Q&A with Finance student Christopher Hockley, the 2019 Excellence in Family Business Student
What is your earliest family business memory?
My earliest family business memory is when we were receiving an award in 2003 and we were taking a picture in our Tigard warehouse yard. I was only 6 years old and completely unaware of what the implications were. The only memory I have is how proud all my family members were about this achievement.
What is the best advice that you’ve received about family businesses?
The best advice that I have received about family business is that it takes a team to successfully run and maintain a company. Not only are family members involved in the success but the non-family managers and the employees are critical for long-term success. Having the right people in the right spots and using their strengths effectively is vital for a company to be able to survive.
What were your roles at Consolidated when you first started working there?
My first role at Consolidated was organizing our companies address books and verifying contact info for customers. I verified info for multiple territories for our outside salesman to make sure that what we had on the books was correct. I worked in this role as I was not able to operate a forklift being under 18 years old for a majority of the summer.
What advice do you have for other family business students?
Some advice that I have for other family business students is to soak up as much information as you can about multiple situations in many types and sizes of business’. You will find that situations from other companies are very helpful in analyzing and improving your own family business. Asking questions and using your resources effectively is also very important.
Which family business author, podcast, blog or books or resources do you recommend?
I would recommend “Managing the Family Business: Theory and Practice” by Thomas Zellweger. This book provides a tremendous amount of insight that can be applied to any family business. I took away a lot of key insights that I have shared with my family to improve our business.
What’s your favorite downtime activity?
My favorite downtime activity is playing basketball or reading books on many different topics. You can learn a lot by reading books that are related to business as well as other topics. Unwinding through physical activity after working in a stressful environment is also critical to maintain balance.
Key milestones in the history of Roby’s Furniture and Appliance
1950: Roby’s was created by Roby O’Bean in Tillamook, OR. The same year, Chet Lewis started CE Lewis appliance after coming back from WWII.
1994: Son, George Lewis purchased the appliance store from his father.
1995: George and his wife, Cindy, purchased Roby’s and merged the businesses together.
2001: Two more stores were purchased in Lincoln City and Newport, and George and Cindy’s kids joined the business. Since then, three more locations have been added bringing the total to six locations.
Present: Our big-picture milestone has, and always will be, bringing families together. It’s what we live for!
Q&A with Roby’s Furniture and Appliance, 2019 Excellence in Family Business finalist in the business renewal category.
What was the origin of the closed on Sunday “Out to Live” policy? How does this longstanding value support the success of Roby’s?
The Bible gave us the origin of being closed on Sundays — the day of rest. The retail world can consume you, but choosing a balanced life with a focus on gratitude, wins over more money any day … especially Sundays.
What are some of the keys to your long-term planning process?
Our long-term planning processes uses a lot of prayer, a calculation of risk over reward and a little luck. We always ask — how will this decision impact our personal lives and the lives of our team members. Our focus is building a business that everyone who has worked at Roby’s in the past and into the future can be proud of.
How has your long-term view of the business benefited the family?
Getting a computer system has allowed us to work from multiple locations … even from home. The computer system has allowed us to work smarter not harder when it comes to accounting, inventory and accountability. Also, a focus on owning our own properties has allowed us to create instant equity.
What’s the biggest challenge that has accompanied the substantial growth of Roby’s Furniture and Appliance?
A: The largest challenge facing the industry is a change in buying patterns by consumers. People are more comfortable than ever to purchase things online. The problem comes when delivery expectations are less than desired. With our website we can show customers our entire line, but narrow it down to in-stock items that can be quickly delivered the “Roby’s” way (it’s the best way) and from a local company that really cares about the customer experience. Because of this change, we understand A LOT about the digital world!
What did the Roby’s legacy business provide to the third generation as the starting point for growth and renewal?
My parents have taught us how to be compassionate business owners, not push overs, but understanding to other’s needs. They also have taught us how to calculate risks … and then how to pray like crazy.
What keeps you up at night?
Staying relevant in a changing world can keep me from falling asleep right way, but we do sleep on great mattresses, so its normally not that difficult.
Q&A with PING Golf / Karsten Manufacturing, 2019 Dean’s Award for Family Business Leadership
What is the best advice you’ve given the next generation?
The best advice we have given the next generation came to us from our grandparents. Our grandfather taught us in life as in golf we must “play the ball where it lies.” We need not bemoan or cast blame for erroneous shots, instead we strategize and make the best shot for the ultimate goal we can achieve in this moment. Sometimes that means making a safer shot away from the hole – one that avoids traps and other potential high score mistakes — but ultimately sets you up to win. And our grandmother gave us a list of verses by which she and Karsten ran the business, including, “[E]ncourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” I Thess. 5:14b-15 (NIV).
Where was the last family vacation destination?
In September, many in our second, third and fourth generations spent a week at the famed Gleneagles golf course in Scotland for the Solheim Cup golf tournament. The Solheim Cup is the fruition of my grandparents’ dream to help grow and advance girls’ and women’s golf, and has become one of the premier competitions in all of golf. We had a wonderful time not only supporting the tournament and meeting with golf industry leaders, but also golfing, visiting a castle, doing archery and experiencing falconry activities together.
What is the family business book that you recommend the most?
We recommend telling the highs and lows and lessons learned in building the family business to the next generation, so they can have the benefit of building on that hard-fought knowledge. We felt the next generation deserved a book that detailed their heritage and provided the stories and details underlying the family’s journey, and so my uncle, our CEO John Solheim, commissioned the writing of our own book. The most important family business book is the one that tells your story to your future generations of workers.
What is the greatest advantage of family business ownership in your industry?
Family business ownership has allowed us to safeguard our brand name such that studies show people consider the name “PING” synonymous with integrity, quality and innovation. Our grandparents and all in our family business have sought to make every decision with the customer’s good in mind, to engineer innovative improvements continually and to build the highest quality custom-made golf clubs to help each golfer play their best. The trust and loyalty we have earned has helped us endure and grow our market share. Plus, family business ownership enables us to make our decisions for the long term rather than for quarterly earnings reports, and our shared values allow us to give to better our community, country and world.
What is the best business decision you’ve made to position your enterprise for fourth generation success?
Living within our means and choosing continually to remain debt-free is the best set-up for future success. We have watched many golf equipment manufacturers rise and decline or disappear altogether over the 60 years we have been designing and making PING golf clubs. Some others could do well during a period of growth, but could not survive recessionary times or unexpected challenges. By continuing to invest profits back into our employees and into growing the business steadily and resisting the temptation to borrow, we help ensure PING can thrive long into the future.
What are the overlooked business opportunities for family owned companies?
Most of today’s biggest businesses were birthed by the hard work of a founder and family, and indeed family-owned manufacturers are the backbone of the American economy. Never underestimate the good that can be accomplished simply by devoting family talents and time to making a valuable product in the USA. And there’s no greater job training program than a family can provide — my grandfather would find the one best route to drive from point A to point B, and my grandmother wanted the bottom of her kitchen sink washed, dried and shined after dinner clean-up or the work wasn’t complete — this perfectionism and attention to detail is naturally in all of our lives now, if not already in our DNA from birth. Finally, paying attention to the gifts and passions of individual family members and employees helps us explore new ways to make products as well as launch entirely new products.
PING Golf parent company Karsten Manufacturing Corporation was founded in 1959 by a Norwegian immigrant, Karsten Solheim. Karsten, while employed at General Electric, used his after-work time to design a putter to improve his golf game. His prototype putter produced a unique “ping” that gave the product its name. Production continued in the garage on evenings and weekends with youngest son John A. Solheim helping build the putters and wife Louise handling customer orders, service, delivery, bookkeeping and sales. GE transferred Karsten to a facility in Phoenix and Karsten stayed with GE until 1967, the same year that professional golfer Julius Boros won a high-profile tournament using a PING putter. The subsequent orders for Karsten’s revolutionary putter required manufacturing to be moved out of the garage and into a small production facility in Phoenix, where building golf clubs finally became Karsten’s full time job.
As demand for PING clubs grew, all of Karsten and Louise’s children eventually joined, each bringing unique skills and abilities. In 1995, when Karsten was 83, his son John officially became president of the company after a unanimous board decision (including Karsten’s vote). John addressed challenges, significantly expanded the golf club product line, strengthened custom-fitting options, and oversaw growth while building on the foundation of innovation, quality and integrity established by Karsten and Louise. John involved the third generation early on. John’s oldest son John K. Solheim became president of the company in 2017, likewise following a unanimous board decision. Several family members hold key roles in the company.
Today this global privately-held enterprise employs more than 1,000 and exports products to about 100 countries. The Solheim Cup, founded in 1990, continues to showcase professional women’s golf at the international level. PING products are still designed, engineered and built at the company’s manufacturing facility in Phoenix, Arizona. The building Karsten and Louise originally purchased is still in use, and PING golf equipment is made on the same campus, expanded to include 25 buildings on over 50 acres. PING maintains a high employee retention rate and attracts a diverse, multicultural team. The Solheim family are strong leaders promoting U.S. manufacturing.
Key milestones in the history of Brown Butter Bakery
2006: My first draft of a business plan. Our community is small, and there was a need for a bakery. I started the business four years later.
2010: Started Brown Butter Bakery when my son Gillis was 10 years old. I certified my home kitchen with the State of Oregon Department of Agriculture and started baking. Gillis would work at my stall at the local Scappoose Saturday Farmers market, helping me launch my business. My mother also helped out on the days needed.
2016: Opened a brick-and-mortar business, and hired my sister-in-law for the front of the house. My son is now being trained in all aspects of operations.
Q&A with Brown Butter Bakery, 2019 Excellence in Family Business finalist in the family harmony category.
What was your greatest challenge in building the business to establish a retail shop?
The biggest challenge was finding a place when there was no commercial real estate space available for a full year. I attended Chamber meetings and gave elevator speeches to realtors for a full year. It wasn’t until my insurance agent decided to move out of their building and called to let me know. I drove to the landlord immediately. I wasn’t the only person interested in the building, but I convinced him to rent to me because it had been over 40 years since a bakery had been part of our town.
It’s an older building with high ceilings and big windows. Many customers have stories about the days when the building was a grocery store. They have a personal connection to this brick-and-mortar place.
How has your long-term view of the business benefited the family?
I have always loved having my family work with me at the bakery. It got my elderly mother out of the house and cheered her up; it gave my sister-in-law employment, and it gave my son skills for life. We found out he had Asperger’s, a form of autism, which made him avoid crowds and caused him problems in school. He has learned how to overcome his fear of people and learned great business skills, which he can use in the future. The best times are family dinners, where we all discuss new products, marketing ideas and how we can improve customer service. This has really brought our family together.
What advice do you have about working with family members in a family business?
Don’t be afraid to hire your family! You can rely on them to have your back, and it makes work more fun. I know I am the happiest when I am at work with my family members.
What has been most rewarding to you, as the founder, in launching a business for your family?
After all of these years the most rewarding part is the daily feedback from my customers. Their personal stories of how a cookie helped their family member feel better or that it was the best cheesecake they’ve ever tasted. It’s a very personal connection to each customer.
Key milestones in the history of Dutch Bros. Coffee
1992: Opening the first location
Roasting our own coffee
Opening the coffee house in Grant’s Pass
Opening the first franchised location
Switching from franchisees to operators
Givebacks – raising over $1 million on one giveback day
Opening our 300th location
Dutch Bros’ 25th anniversary
Development of COACHA the company’s annual culture event
Creating the Love Abounds Foundation, and taking trips to El Salvador
Partnering with TSG
2019: Hiring Joth Ricci as president and bringing on Keith Thomajan as chief of staff.
Q&A with Dutch Bros. Coffee, 2019 Excellence in Family Business finalist in the family harmony category.
This family has persevered through difficult times and through exciting times of significant growth. How does the Boersma family stay connected to celebrate the business and honor the founders while running a large company?
Our family is still engaged on a day-to-day basis. The whole family; those that work at DB actively and those that don’t. We meet on a quarterly basis to discuss the business, and all of the kids are around the same age, so we spend time together at family gatherings and sporting events, etc.
How have quarterly family meetings benefited the family? And the business?
They help us stay aligned with projections, goals, direction and vision. They give us a say and understanding in what’s happening.
They give us an update on what’s happened over the past few months and allow us time to discuss it. There are no punches pulled, we talk about the good the bad and the ugly. We discuss employees that didn’t work out, concerns about structure, coffee bean shrinkage, sales numbers, you name it, we discuss it.
It’s put into a language we all understand, everyone that’s involved on a deep level can fill the gaps for those that aren’t super engaged.
What advice do you have about working with family members in a family business?
Communicate, communicate, communicate. It’s not always easy, but understanding the common goal, outcome, and result you’re after and ensuring that’s still a priority to everyone. If it becomes not a priority to someone then we need to reevaluate. We have to have open ears and eyes and be willing to hear each other out. You don’t want it to be a surprise if something major happens. Everyone should be updated.
What role does the family play in creating the personal culture and connection with more than 12,000 employees?
We hold a culture event twice a year, called COACHA. All the family members live out the culture on a daily basis, and that trickles down. Every member of the family is engaged in Dutch Bros, whether through working for the company, or being a regular “customer” at the stand.
Key milestones in the history of George Morlan Plumbing Supply
1927: George and his wife, Mary, moved from Arkansas to Portland, Oregon. He started his plumbing business with one helper and a Ford truck.
Mid-1930s: The new “electric water heater” was invented and George quickly realized the benefit to Oregon homeowners. He began selling and installing so many water heaters, that he was dubbed “The Water Heater King” by a friend and it stuck.
1965: George’s son Gary joined the company full time and, like his dad, he was a constant hard worker. George married Leone Kramien who, with her son Rick, had accompanied her first husband, a circus owner and magician, on the road performing. When they joined the Morlan family, they brought a major component that shaped the company going forward.
1989: Rick purchased the business and opened the second location in Tigard, doubling the size of the business overnight. The grand opening celebration made national news and over 10,000 people attended the event with a mini trade show, Elvis impersonator, and even elephant rides.
Since then, the business has expanded to eight locations, each with their own unique identity but harnessing the spirit of each previous generation.
Q&A with George Morlan Plumbing Supply, 2019 Excellence in Family Business finalist in the generational development category.
How are the third and fourth generations incorporating the historic values of creativity and entertainment in the running of the company today?
Rick, the third generation, particularly merged his show business background with the plumbing company. He was known in Oregon for major advertising campaigns, which at the time, was unheard of in the plumbing business. The George Morlan jingle “The Water Heater King” became widely recognized in the Portland area. The fourth generation, Rick’s children, Alex and Amanda continue these traditions with specialty advertising campaigns, participation in community events, and exciting customer events.
How has the work of long-term planning for the future of the business benefited the family?
About two years ago, Rick, with the help of Alex and Amanda, wrote a long-tern Business Plan and Strategy. The work that went into that has given us a solid plan for the future that undoubtedly will help us grow and thrive.
What’s the biggest challenge that has accompanied the substantial growth of George Morlan Plumbing and Supply?
Our biggest challenge has definitely been hiring qualified and knowledgeable staff. It has been increasingly difficult to hire anyone with industry knowledge, and therefore, we must hire and train candidates who are completely green. We estimate is takes about three years for someone to learn most of what they need to know to successfully serve our customers. Fortunately, we have many long-term employees with more than 20 or 30 years of history with our company. They are invaluable to us in training new employees.
What is the legacy you hope that the current generations leave for the future owners?
George Morlan created his business on customer service, knowledge and expertise. Customers knew that they could come in with any issue, and he would fix it right at the counter or walk them through their projects. This is the essence of George Morlan that we want to continue in all future generations of the business.
Key milestones in the history of City of Roses Disposal & Recycling
July 1996: Al Simpson Founds City of Roses Dropbox Service.
September 2005: COR Purchases 2 Acre Industrial Site with goal of building own Recycling Facility.
April 2013: COR Receives First Recycling Facility Permit.
August 2013: Founder Al Simpson retires from City of Portland after working for COR and CofP for past 17 years.
December 2017: COR Purchases 12 Acre Industrial Site with goal of getting site permitted as a Solid Waste Facility.
June 2019: Metro Council approves COR Solid Waste Facility Permit which becomes the first-ever privately owned transfer station in the City of Portland.
August 2019: COR begins operations at newly permitted Solid Waste Transfer Station.
Today: COR is now the first-ever and ONLY certified Benefit Corporation Waste & Recycling Company in the entire United States.
Q&A with City of Roses Disposal & Recycling, 2019 Excellence in Family Business finalist in the generational development category
How has your father’s deeply-held value of frugality supported today’s success of COR?
It has become the foundation of COR’s message to the world and the meaning behind our existence “Diverting Wasteful Thinking.”
Mass consumption leads to waste and the Founder Al Simpson always made a point to ask everyone “Why Waste?” We have taken these principals and made it a core mission of the family business.
What advice do you have about for family business successors who are ready to launch new ventures in their industry?
Always respect your elders and predecessors and most importantly learn from their mistakes.
As the business grows, the family is continuously strategizing on how to prepare the next generation for roles and expertise that can be secured in house as opposed to hiring externally. We are adamant about preparing our next generation with education in roles to fulfill Legal, Finance, Land Use & Development, Environmental Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation jobs within the company.
When did you know you were ready to take on the CEO role in the family company?
Once my other family members suggested that title for me…. Which was in the fall 2018.
What does it mean to the family to be leaders in the community’s economic development?
It means ALOT … In a variety of forms, Economic Development is the main vehicle to financial independence. We have a huge responsibility to our community, underserved populations, and, most importantly, our youth of color who are all faced with lack of opportunities that lead to financial independence. This is important to us as those barriers are very similar circumstances from which we originate.
Last month at Portland’s Sentinel Hotel, David H. Sutherland & Co. took home the Generational Development prize at the 2015 Excellence in Family Business Awards ceremony.
The 64-year-old company, a global supplier of composite and specialty products for aerospace and other high-performance industries, traces its beginnings to the agile mind and ambitious nature of the World War II bomber pilot for whom the firm is named.
David Sutherland was a social worker for the Veterans Administration in Portland when he noticed a pile of surplus coking coal briquettes outside the Portland Gas & Coke Building on Highway 30 in Northwest Portland.
Sutherland knew the briquettes were just the sort of material war-ravaged, rebuilding nations like Japan needed, so he started working his connections to see if he could find buyers for them in Asia.
He succeeded, and thus was born the company that last month was honored by the Oregon State University College of Business’ Austin Family Business Program.
The Portland Gas & Coke site, meanwhile, was in the early 1950s charting a much different course. The company, now known as NW Natural, in 1913 had built the plant on west side of the Willamette River, just south of where the St. Johns Bridge would open 18 years later. The Portland Gas & Coke Building, which was used for administrative purposes, and the rest of the facility were shuttered by the end of the decade as natural gas lines reached Portland, rendering obsolete what the plant had been constructed for: manufacturing gas from coal.
The building, which came to be known as Gasco, featured gothic architecture and became one of Portland’s most intriguing and photographed structures; described by its fans as an “industrial cathedral,” it was the last remaining structure from the gasification plant.
Vacant since 1958, abandoned and decaying – and also contaminated inside and out from plant activities – Gasco stood watch over Northwest Portland until this fall. That’s when NW Natural began demolishing it rather than spend roughly $2 million of ratepayer money just to stabilize and clean it (the demolition had been delayed to give a community group a chance to generate funds to save the structure, but the effort fell well short).
While the building itself is now gone, one part of Gasco lives on – and on the same campus that hosts the family business program that honored the company that got its start via surplus coal on the Gasco site. In 1988, NW Natural donated Gasco’s four-sided tower clock to Benton Hall, the first building of what would become Oregon State University.
Eric Allyn, a fourth-generation owner of medical device manufacturer Welch Allyn, Inc., will serve as the inaugural keynote speaker for the Austin Family Business Program’s Excellence in Family Business Awards, being held tonight at the Governor Hotel in Portland.
Allyn has been a strong advocate for family business throughout his career, and recently sat down with AFBP for a Q&A in advance of tonight’s keynote address.
Oldest family business owner: 78, third generation Youngest family business owner: Due December 31 Number of family members working in the operating business: 2 Ownership generations: 3rd, 4th and 5th generations Last family vacation destination: Skaneateles NY
Family business book that you recommend most often: John Ward and Jennifer Pendergast’s “Building a Successful Family Business Board: A Guide for Leaders, Directors, and Families” and any case studies of family businesses, such as the Mondavi family or the Busch family case.
Best advice you’ve given your children: I don’t expect them to be great managers of our business but I do expect them to be great stewards!
Best business decision you made as an executive in the family business: By far the best decision was to insist that we move the governance of our business from family management to family ownership with outside management.
How would you describe your work in family business education: Our company transitioned to a non-family CEO in 2007 and I stayed two years to help the transition. I was elected chairman by our board and now serve other families by speaking to leadership groups and in sit- ting on family business boards in the pharmaceutical and medical fields. What I enjoy doing most is sharing the Welch Allyn story to prepare the next generation, especially how to use succession planning tools to push the ownership down to the younger generations.
Why are you committed to this work?I think family business should be, and need to be, more competitive than public companies. They can make quicker decisions and ownership is close to management. I have no time for the big public markets and excessive regulations but I will always take the time for people of the next generation.
I love to compete against GE, Phillips and Siemens. There’s a big difference than working for these and for Welch Allyn, Inc. that has long term vision, values the brand and thinks generationally, not quarterly. That makes it more fun to compete against GE in winning a hospital bid. If the customer is really buying value and a long-term solution then we will help them do their work and solve their problems. It’s not transactional and it’s not a commodity. Family businesses can do that much more effectively.