Molding a successful family business, 50 years on: Page 2 of 3

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December 14, 2017

“The nice thing is you obviously know and love the ownership. In our case, with six boys in the family, every son has worked in the business,” said Tim.“Only Eric and I stuck it out and made it in spite of our different temperaments. It’s not always easy.”

Tim said that one of the difficult aspects of working with family in the business is that more is expected of family members. “If you have the last name of the ownership, you’re held to a higher level of responsibility,” he said.

When Tim and Eric were coming up in the business, they both enjoyed mold building and were good at it, but Tim had an eye toward ownership. The appeal to Tim was the idea of putting in your time and paying your dues in mold building in conjunction with taking on more responsibility for the business operations. “Our careers just naturally progressed into management as my dad looked toward retirement,” said Tim.

At one point, however, Jack Peterson tried a couple of external people to run the business “as he wasn’t sure about us,” Tim shared. “But by the time he was ready to retire, we were ready to take over the business operations. The ownership had to get to a place where he was confident that we could run the business.”

When Tim and Eric took over, their success was not guaranteed, “but with hard work and faith we were able to succeed,” said Tim.

“My dad was also very hands off after he let us take over the operations. He never came to us wanting us to do it his way,” Tim explained.

Each brother found his own niche when it came to running the business.

Eric tended to be more operations oriented, watching the books and keeping tabs on capital expenditures. Tim noted that he is “more visionary and sales” oriented.

As a result of this recognition, the brothers get along in their own area of the company. “Eric is content to let me be me and I’m content to let him be him, and we each do our jobs,” said Tim. “A family dynamic tends to be somewhat compartmentalized, but we each do our own thing and we each have fallen into our own natural roles in the business.”

Much of the success of a family-owned business involves trust—letting each person do his or her job, trusting that he or she is doing it for the good of the business in a team effort. “We all did a great job growing this business. It’s not a singular effort. You need a team and it goes to the culture of this business of moldmaking. Being a great team from top to bottom and bottom to top and building on team work is key to our success. We don’t have any ‘superstars’ here.”

Interestingly, Tim noted that the cultural change that has taken place in the moldmaking industry over the past decade or so has resulted in a cultural change in Industrial Molds’ business. “It’s not the old moldmaking attitude of ‘I’m the best and I can build the entire mold myself.’ That culture has changed. It was automation that drove us to be more team oriented. There has been an emphasis on a loyal and adaptive workforce throughout the years, as well as God’s blessing and faithfulness.”

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