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Episode 58: The Orchestra of Family Business

In this episode of the Family Biz Show, Michael Palumbos welcomes Robert and Trevor Stephenson from Eastman Machine in Buffalo, New York. The episode delves into the intergenerational journey of the Stevenson family in managing and evolving their family business, which has been in operation since 1888.

Robert Stephenson shares the historical backdrop of Eastman Machine, starting from its inception when it was bought by his great-grandfather in 1890. He narrates his personal journey within the company, starting from working in the factory at 16 to eventually taking over the business in a leveraged buyout in 1988. Robert highlights the importance of understanding every aspect of the business, from manufacturing to sales, and emphasizes the critical role of hands-on experience and mentorship in his development.

Trevor Stephenson discusses his path, which contrasts with his father's, highlighting his late entry into the family business at 27 after exploring other opportunities. His narrative underscores the value of learning from different departments within the company and the significance of adapting to technological advancements, specifically mentioning the shift from manual to automated machinery that now constitutes 90% of the company's production.

The episode also touches on challenges the business faced, including navigating succession complexities and adapting to market changes. Both guests stress the importance of communication, strategic thinking, and keeping the family involved but not to the detriment of the business.

Robert and Trevor's insights offer a comprehensive view of managing a long-standing family business through changing times, balancing tradition with innovation, and the importance of preparing the next generation for leadership.

Episode 58 Transcript


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Michael Palumbos: Welcome everybody to the family biz show my name is Michael Columbus with family wealth and legacy in Rochester New York and today we've got an exciting show for you guys and we're joined by Robert Stephenson and Trevor Stephenson.



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Michael Palumbos: And they have a pretty cool story that i'm going to allow them like we always do, to introduce themselves and give us their kind of their journey and we're going to dive into what you guys do and machine shop and pretty excited about this, so thank you for joining us today.



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trevor stevenson: Thank you, Michael glad to be here.



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Michael Palumbos: So, like we like I said we usually do introductions first and Robert if you don't mind me what we like is you know, give us a little bit of your background.



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Michael Palumbos: What are you doing the company today kind of what was your journey, you know into the into the company and and then we'll turn it over to Trevor.



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robert stevenson: Well, being a generational family business Michael you're in a sense, you're always in the company from the day you were born in a way.



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robert stevenson: You know my great grandfather didn't start the business, but he bought into the business back in 1890 the business actually was started by a guy named eat no relation to the George Eastman of Eastman Kodak but he had the same name.



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robert stevenson: And he was a came from Toronto and invented the way to make a fractional horsepower motor and mounted on a stand to drive over to reciprocate at night to make cloth cutting.



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robert stevenson: actually possible in a mass production setting singer had invented the sewing machine, but before that it was cutting cutting the cloth or cutting out the patterns, with very laborious and my great grandfather was a real estate developer in buffalo.



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robert stevenson: And rented him space and after a few years, the guy said look i'm an inventor not a manufacturer, would you like to buy the business and my great grandfather said yes and that's history, so you know here it is i'm fourth generation and my son is fifth generation.



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robert stevenson: I was always interested in the business I started working there in the in the in the factory when when I was 16 and taking apart machines.



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robert stevenson: When I went to college, I was a Yale graduate and in the summer I worked in a New York City sales office variety of jobs.



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robert stevenson: from calling on customers credit handling phone calls, etc, etc, and I soon became apparent, I really, really enjoyed it enjoyed the business, and when I got out of college and moved back to buffalo in the fall of 73 I don't my father and ready to ready to work.



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robert stevenson: So I showed up at the office in my suit and thinking, where, am I going to be sitting in the Nice corner office.



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robert stevenson: He took me down the hallway and took me into the file room and every little table in the corner and he said there's your office, the file clerk is your boss and you'll do it, she says, and good luck and that was.



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robert stevenson: And that was my.



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Michael Palumbos: Can you read it remind me the year that the company was started.



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robert stevenson: 1888 and.



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Michael Palumbos: wow that's amazing really love it.



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robert stevenson: Well, that was my start and.



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robert stevenson: tracing back in those days, Michael you probably remember.



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robert stevenson: There was no there was no Internet obviously there was no phone calls were expensive so most of the communication man in fact 95% of communication with a company was through the US mail.



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robert stevenson: And so, by telling me to open the mail he knew I was going to read it, and in reading it, I could see where they were some issues where where there are some problems and.



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robert stevenson: got me into delving into it Nice, I assume, was moved into the service department and I had a great mentor their name of Jeff Schwartz and.



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robert stevenson: I said jack I don't I don't know a lot about these machines that people call up with problems and he said, Robert don't worry about that they don't know you're not an expert.



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robert stevenson: He said this a chance to learn, so you tell him so great question, and let me, let me go ask them people make sure I give you the correct answer and you'll learn and and they will know that you didn't know a damn thing so.



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robert stevenson: After a few years, I became quite proficient in that and I kid my son is where now into a much different technology than I learned that the only reason they keep me around is good, I know how the old machines work.



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robert stevenson: So.



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Michael Palumbos: love it.



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Michael Palumbos: Thank you, Robert Trevor tell us about your journey, you know what how did it compare and contrast to your father's.



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trevor stevenson: So my journey was a little more delayed and my dad I did work a few summers here.



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trevor stevenson: When I was in high school actually.



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trevor stevenson: You know, building some machines, or rather painting the fence out in the parking lot with.



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trevor stevenson: Some good hard Labor for a high school kid um I actually joined the company, when I was 27 years old, after working some other companies really around around the country and around the world.



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trevor stevenson: And when I went 27 when I was 27 I didn't think the corner office, but I did you know I told my dad I said why I think I want to be in sales i'd be a good sales guy he goes well.



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trevor stevenson: That you're not going to do that you're going to go into the service department and.



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trevor stevenson: At that point we had gone on to what we call our automated equipment which we started in 1995, which is our large cnc computer controlled machines and we had a.



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trevor stevenson: kind of a burgeoning tech service department, where we go out and install the machines, I was a really a good way to bad news doing it was a good way to learn the machines from the ground up.



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trevor stevenson: So I did that, for a few years and then I got into what we call our applications department, where you do test cuts and demos for customers with their materials.



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trevor stevenson: That I say would probably be one of the most beneficial parts of my of my journey, because I really got to understand machines.



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trevor stevenson: That you know before I was building them and I kind of knew how to run on but learning the applications of them because we're in so many different industries, I mean so many were in from everything from apparel to sporting goods to win blade.



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trevor stevenson: Manufacturing it's it's pretty it's pretty wild the array of companies that we that we sell to but anyway back to the applications I learned all that I learned how the machines that are active all the different materials, I learned how the different files need to work.



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trevor stevenson: I still get called now the President of company, and I still kind of have my heart and applications and text service, and I would say.



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trevor stevenson: Probably four or five times a week i'm called back there to make sure that they're doing it right that you know some of the guys just can't answer and I, and I.



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trevor stevenson: i'm glad I still can.



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trevor stevenson: I haven't I haven't lost those skills.



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trevor stevenson: And I, so I did that, for a while and then I became assistant tech service manager.



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trevor stevenson: And then I kind of saw started oversee the entire department and then I got into engineering that do not have an engineering degree, I went to the University of Vermont and and but I learned what I called my Eastman engineering degree.



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trevor stevenson: You know I think if I knew solid works, I could design some machine.



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trevor stevenson: So I really know how they work, I know how the parts go together know how they need to go together.



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trevor stevenson: I can, I can definitely Oh, you know, look at our engineering drawings in our designs to see what's going to work and what's not going to work so.



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trevor stevenson: that's, but that was very exciting time for me to learn that, and then I got into that got a Vice President and got into sales and now I oversee really.



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trevor stevenson: My hands are and everything so i'm making sure that we're hitting our sales numbers my heart is still in tech service and engineering so.



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trevor stevenson: Most of my day is is it's filled with that, but you know when I work with a really good senior management team to make sure that we're getting the right product out the right quality out and getting it out on time as much as we can.



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Michael Palumbos: love it so Robert You said something that I want to make sure that that I hit on real quick and people here, this is that you are around the business from a young age, you know and watching your father did were you able to see your grandfather in the business as well.



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robert stevenson: Oh yes, Sunday Sunday dinners are always with my grandfather he he his father died at early relatively young age, and my grandfather.



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robert stevenson: colleges, who older Brothers went to Harvard and he started an engineering firm in New York, which he employed.



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robert stevenson: To help the company, but he he became President and ran it starting in 1907 and maintain that position so 1966 and, as a young boy, you know at the Sunday dinner table my father my grandfather would be talking about.



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robert stevenson: The business and and we, we were very big an export for a long time, and we always would be entertaining people from Europe or South America.



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robert stevenson: Though it was always a business environment, in a sense it wasn't totally, but it was always a business environment, my grandfather stayed in the office basically.



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robert stevenson: Until about 1970 and when he couldn't do it anymore, and he died in 1972 you know, and so, so it was he was an integral part of my life and in the business.



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Michael Palumbos: it's interesting because I, you know I hear that story in that thread.



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Michael Palumbos: Often and meaning that you know as a young young person, you know you're influenced by your father and you're influenced by your grandfather and.



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Michael Palumbos: yeah I have another family business that that i've talked to he is you know, a cabbage geneticist.



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Michael Palumbos: And he would go around the greenhouses with his grandfather, and you know you know getting the seeds ready and and you know, creating different varieties and.



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Michael Palumbos: Just you know it was just interesting for him to want to be I don't know if it was interesting.



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Michael Palumbos: about the business, but it was the time spent with his with his grandfather, you know was meaningful and that was the connection point and so that built the interest over time I don't know if that resonates with you at all.



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Michael Palumbos: But it's just like you know we you know we are fathers and grandfathers and grandmothers and grandmothers you know our our influential people in our lives as we're growing up.



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Michael Palumbos: And the respect that we have for them, sometimes is like that the germination of that seed of Oh, I think I might want to do this.



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robert stevenson: I think that's true I think that's true I I thought it was interesting that you know as a young kid you'd see people coming in from all over the world.



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Michael Palumbos: To talk to her how exactly exactly he lived this exciting life.



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robert stevenson: And wow this is fascinating you know that we do this, this this little company, I often you know if I can tell a little anecdotal story.



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robert stevenson: You know, when I interview people for management positions or whatever, I will often my take is they've already been interview, and I just like to let them know about you know how we view the company what the culture of the company is.



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robert stevenson: And I said i'm going to describe the company to you in a way that you might understand and I always asked him I said, are you familiar with the Disney movie dumbo.



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robert stevenson: i'm sure you are Michael i'm sure your kids have seen it and you've watched it with them and.



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robert stevenson: They usually say yes, and I said well there's a scene in the movie where dumbo is very discouraged and he's sitting in his tent and all of a sudden, he sees this.



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robert stevenson: What looks like a monstrous creature actually a shadow and it's walking across the 10 he screamed and oh my God he's terrified and finally a little voices i'm just that mouse.



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robert stevenson: And I said well we're kind of that way we're not a big company, but we cast the giant shadow, and you know we we were worldwide and in our reach.



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robert stevenson: We certainly have some much larger competitors, but you can't go to a continent you can't go to a country that doesn't know the name Eastman.



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robert stevenson: And i'll tell you a further anecdotal story, if I may, my father was asked back in the 60s to go to a trade mission in Russia, which was very unusual and he got it through.



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robert stevenson: His connection with a local Congressman who thought we had an interesting business because we were international.



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robert stevenson: So he's over there, sitting in the Kremlin with the comments are of trade and so on other Russian officials, and this is back in the days of the Soviet Union, obviously.



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robert stevenson: And they're going around introducing themselves and there's a Vice President of standard oil and the head of Xerox and.



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robert stevenson: President of this and they finally get to my father says i'm chuck Stevenson Eastern machine company, and we have a little handheld machine called the chicken and sells for back in those days $450 and the commercials I adopt the chicken D right.



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robert stevenson: And my father's S, and he was the only response, they got from the Russians that do.



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robert stevenson: They do are.



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robert stevenson: So that That to me is is is still That way we when we go anywhere.



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robert stevenson: You know, and he mentioned that a nice meal, we know we know if you're in that industry, we know Eastman we know we spent and and That to me is is certainly something we feel really proud about and if you've done something that you know, makes a difference, you know somewhere in the world.



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trevor stevenson: My God, like to add to that story as well, the first time I went to China was like 2005 2006 and we went to a very large trade show over there is my first time to China.



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trevor stevenson: I was a little nervous, you know definitely about the food and of course the first place, we stopped at a little roadside convenience place, they were serving river crap out of the local river that ran behind the gas station and.



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trevor stevenson: And, thank God, they had some ritz crackers as well, but I got to the ratio was the biggest trade show and it's still the biggest break i've ever been to seven halls.



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trevor stevenson: And I was so impressed I didn't really realize that was young, in the career, I didn't really realize how big Eastman was or you know the name the product and every little booth was either selling our parts or selling knockoffs now in China that's a.



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trevor stevenson: They say that you're depleting you have a very good product and we're knocking you off.



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trevor stevenson: it's a they say it's a compliment to eastern.



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Michael Palumbos: that's okay.



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trevor stevenson: yeah but I mean you could walk you could, I think I walked a few miles in that trade show and every booth had parts that went to our machines.



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Michael Palumbos: that's very cool that's very cool so you've you've given me some of the history of the company.



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Michael Palumbos: One of the things that you know we like to share is it's it's never a straight path you know of success it's there's always an obstacle, or something that's thrown in, whether it be you know.



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Michael Palumbos: Within the business through the years or you know just dealing with family sometimes do you mind sharing with me, you know.



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Michael Palumbos: Since you know the company started what are some of the stories that you guys, you know, have you keep about the hard times, or about the things that you've made it through, because it's always those things that are test the metal.



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Michael Palumbos: To keep you around you know that those are the things that a lot of times I think we're most proud of.



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robert stevenson: Well, let me, let me first go back and say I was always you know when I was in college, I was actually an art history major and my father, he said, look if you're serious about it at least take at least take one management business course and I senior management accounting but.



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robert stevenson: I always thought business is about the people.



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robert stevenson: As long as you will we have a saying, or I have a saying that I say you know you're the ownership is it's like a milk so business like a milk stool is.



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robert stevenson: The ownership is to insert a header is the base of the store, but the most important things are the legs that hold it up, and those are your employees and your community and your customer and if you don't take care of the three of those you're not going to have a very good ownership.



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robert stevenson: My father is interesting story my mother was a very interesting woman she had polio when she was 14.



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robert stevenson: her father died shortly thereafter, this is back in 1933 but he had been a classmate of Franklin Roosevelt, not only in boarding school, but in in Harvard and also Harvard law.



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robert stevenson: Roosevelt called up my grandmother and said I hear you Leo and i'd like her to come down to warm springs, where I have the little White House.



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robert stevenson: And I will take care of her and over the course of the next 10 years he became uncle Franklin and when I Father met my mother in 1942 on a coincidental trip to.



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robert stevenson: Before he went overseas met my mother died in long island to a friend and they got married in January of 43 they spent their honeymoon in the in the Lincoln bedroom in the White House.



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robert stevenson: And I tell this story, because my mother was remarkable woman as my dad was a remarkable man, but.



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robert stevenson: He got very concerned about my mother and what was going to happen in the 80s, I didn't working there and.



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robert stevenson: He may be President at three I was just 32 years old, but I really had been working in the business since 2016.



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robert stevenson: And an ad ad said, I am very concerned about what happens to me if you know we're going to take care of your mother and, at the time I had I was a member of an organizational ipo you familiar with ipo.



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robert stevenson: And we be.



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Michael Palumbos: Presidents organization for those that are listening and.



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robert stevenson: We had a speaker by name of David Burke was talking about family business succession and family business issues.



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robert stevenson: And he got up and he was speaking at a seminar I was at.



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robert stevenson: And he's mentioning all the potential problems with succession and I went up to him after the meeting I said, David I think of the five problems you mentioned, we have, we have all of them.



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robert stevenson: Potentially how to take care of siblings how to take care of my mother what to do about my my dad and we went out and.



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robert stevenson: Had him kind of book to my dad my dad said, this is this could be as live, how do we make make a long story short, we engage with him and in the.



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robert stevenson: December of 88 we completed the sale, where we bought my dad out to a leveraged buyout which was popular at the time.



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robert stevenson: My mother died shortly thereafter, and my father, then became a remarried but, unfortunately, about a year or two after you're married maybe develop dementia.



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robert stevenson: I don't want to get into the whole story, but it was it was a really tricky time where we were just had bought our automated business, we had purchased some things we were going gangbusters we needed to borrow more money from the Bank and the Bank said well.



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robert stevenson: that's great, but the signature is your mother's We need your dad to sign, my father didn't understand what he was doing wouldn't sign it, the bank said well we're not going to loan you any more money.



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robert stevenson: I told my father, I said I can't pay you and again into a real family legal battle and we fought that for five years until we finally settled it got it done but those were those were tough times because I couldn't deal with my dad he didn't understand what was going on.



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robert stevenson: And it took a lot of fortitude on my part to do you know get through it, I had two brothers who are my partners at the time we my youngest brother got very nervous about it.



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robert stevenson: After was all over he said I really don't want to be part of this business anymore, where you buy me and my older brother just said, Robert you're the guy and whatever you decide is good for me, and so, so it got settled.



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robert stevenson: But one of the things you learn I said is is.



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robert stevenson: peep sight of what you're doing and in 2001.



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robert stevenson: I little nervous about the whole thing here, I am just turned 50 years old.



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robert stevenson: I didn't have a dad anymore, he Oh, he didn't know, really, who I was, I felt I needed a mentor and I wasn't too proud to say I need help, I want somebody to come in and tell me what am I doing the right thing.



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robert stevenson: And I found a guy who I known I actually been an advisor to me and I asked him to come on board and he'd been a former.



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robert stevenson: senior executive Vice President for diamond bands in United States, and he said he'd be he'd become a CEO of a local publicly traded buffalo company which he eventually got sold for six times the initial stock price, so he did well for them, and I said to him, Kurt.



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robert stevenson: Do we have a company that we can grow.



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robert stevenson: I say pretend you're going to buy it come in and spend a week with me and he did, and he said he said, you have a great company, but not necessarily the right people and and.



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robert stevenson: And we understood at that time we needed more management depth.



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robert stevenson: So one of my concerns that I always had been in the business is how do we make sure that this doesn't happen again, how do we make sure this had happened with my son.



00:21:30.480 --> 00:21:41.520

robert stevenson: And one of the things i've always worked on, is to develop a management team that is contemporary with him, so I mean i'm 70 i've got a great CEO who's 65.



00:21:42.090 --> 00:21:55.590

robert stevenson: And what we've been developing people around forever who are you know contemporaries of his who got the experience so they think they can grow with him and make me feel pretty good that the businesses in good hands.



00:21:57.990 --> 00:22:11.160

robert stevenson: I always feel do my job now is CEO is is basically making sure that ship steers in the right direction, I don't get involved much in maybe Maybe my son was I get about sometimes too much a tactical decisions but.



00:22:11.790 --> 00:22:21.960

robert stevenson: I think one of the things I learned from that from that mentor was you want the business to make good music, if you understand, they said you're the conductor.



00:22:22.560 --> 00:22:29.400

robert stevenson: And you have various parts of your orchestra your manufacturing team your engineering team your sales team your accounting team your marketing team.



00:22:29.970 --> 00:22:42.420

robert stevenson: He said, they need to work synchronously so they work together and just that's your job make make sure you're conducting it so they work together well, and so I take a lot of pride that we, I think we do that, and so.



00:22:42.840 --> 00:22:51.510

robert stevenson: When we have visitors who come and visit us from the company, whether they are they they they like what they see and I think that's being a big part of our success.



00:22:51.990 --> 00:22:53.070

Michael Palumbos: that's great yeah.



00:22:54.720 --> 00:23:04.500

Michael Palumbos: it's brilliant that you know, one of the things I say to people when when they meet me and we're talking i'm like my my biggest genius.



00:23:05.160 --> 00:23:17.040

Michael Palumbos: is knowing that I don't know everything and and that's Robert what you just said was I didn't know everything and I found somebody that could help me think through these things differently.



00:23:17.400 --> 00:23:24.840

Michael Palumbos: And, and that is just the the true you know colors of a leader nice nicely done that.



00:23:25.110 --> 00:23:32.040

Michael Palumbos: was well done, I really appreciate that because it's so hard for a lot of people to let go because they want to do.



00:23:32.310 --> 00:23:43.170

Michael Palumbos: All the time and they want to run everything and control and the smartest thing you can do is build yourself with some great people around you and you did, and you did that well.



00:23:44.460 --> 00:23:57.060

Michael Palumbos: The other thing I want to you mentioned the orchestra, and so, when i'm when I coach the family businesses that I work with we you know utilize a system called metro nomics.



00:23:57.450 --> 00:24:12.510

Michael Palumbos: And and it's comes from the metronome which helps you to keep time right and economics and so you put those two pieces together, and you know there's the metronomic some of the business so that's that's pretty cool that you said, the orchestra.



00:24:13.080 --> 00:24:25.440

Michael Palumbos: immediately that should ring true for people, you know when you hear all those different you know departments and getting them to work in unison, I say that management team or that leadership team that you built.



00:24:26.130 --> 00:24:36.810

Michael Palumbos: They need to be responsible and in tune with each other, more so than the teams that report to them you right, you need that absolutely.



00:24:38.520 --> 00:24:39.210

Michael Palumbos: Another.



00:24:39.420 --> 00:24:39.990

Michael Palumbos: Oh go ahead.



00:24:40.380 --> 00:24:41.640

robert stevenson: Oh, I don't want to take all the.



00:24:41.640 --> 00:24:48.960

Michael Palumbos: Time yeah I just want to you know I want Trevor to talk about you know some of the things that you know he's most proud of.



00:24:49.320 --> 00:24:55.800

Michael Palumbos: Through the years you know and made that those you've been around you know there's been some transition and the world is different today.



00:24:56.100 --> 00:25:06.870

Michael Palumbos: You know if you compare how the company made money years ago versus what you do today what's the same what's different you know what does that look like and then maybe you know.



00:25:07.410 --> 00:25:15.390

Michael Palumbos: If there's tell us other other family members in the business, and you know what's what's good about being in a family business and.



00:25:15.510 --> 00:25:17.400

Michael Palumbos: Would maybe some of the struggles.



00:25:17.820 --> 00:25:22.590

robert stevenson: let's go back to that, but let me talk a little bit about what he what he sees okay yeah.



00:25:23.190 --> 00:25:32.250

trevor stevenson: Oh wow Well, first of all I answer the last question so there's there's No one on my generation in the family business, so you know I really rely on my dad and my uncle.



00:25:33.360 --> 00:25:38.190

trevor stevenson: To be my my ears and kind of sounding shoulder for family matters.



00:25:39.870 --> 00:25:46.950

trevor stevenson: You know, but sometimes sometimes that can be a lonely island, you know with different generations talking to each other, sometimes they don't see eye to eye.



00:25:47.760 --> 00:25:58.230

trevor stevenson: But I also have a very good team as my dad said we built a are we have built a team of really strong peers for me here at the company.



00:25:59.310 --> 00:26:00.630

trevor stevenson: that those are kind of my.



00:26:01.710 --> 00:26:11.610

trevor stevenson: Years and my brains and that I can rely on and talk to, and I think a lot of them, I would say, most of them have the same kind of vision that I do.



00:26:12.450 --> 00:26:24.060

trevor stevenson: For the business going back to what my dad said is that we're a people business, we really are, I think that there's a lot of lot of competitors, they sell basically the same thing.



00:26:24.420 --> 00:26:42.330

trevor stevenson: But, most people buy from us because of who we are and the way we interact with people we're fast we're flexible because we're still relatively small company, even though we're growing kind of by leaps and bounds, but we still we still own really own that family atmosphere.



00:26:43.500 --> 00:26:50.250

trevor stevenson: People feel that when they come to see us people feel that when they see as a trade show people feel that, in a way we get back to people quickly.



00:26:51.390 --> 00:26:57.960

trevor stevenson: You know you've got to be quick in today's world as well, especially younger generations, they lose they lose their attention quickly.



00:26:59.250 --> 00:27:03.030

trevor stevenson: you're not giving them what they want, they go on to the next thing extremely fast.



00:27:04.710 --> 00:27:17.880

trevor stevenson: Some things that i've seen you know over, especially over the past five six years it's just tremendous growth, especially in our automated division, you know going, I mean really double digit growth over here for about five years.



00:27:18.960 --> 00:27:28.140

trevor stevenson: You know, we had except for that small recession we had in 2020 we still did very well so i'm proud of that, you know i'm proud that my people.



00:27:28.560 --> 00:27:41.550

trevor stevenson: At the company contained have to push through the kind of the codec pandemic we stay flexible we stayed adaptable and we stayed to task we didn't we didn't.



00:27:42.780 --> 00:27:46.290

trevor stevenson: Know use the word freak out but we didn't we didn't stress out about it right.



00:27:47.310 --> 00:27:59.400

trevor stevenson: We continue to focus on the task at hand, I proud of it, you know i'm proud that we have such a strong dedicated group of people here that they saw us through that.



00:28:00.870 --> 00:28:12.210

trevor stevenson: You know another one was the financial the great recession 2009 you know, I was pretty young at the company anyway i've been here about five years when I started recently married.



00:28:12.690 --> 00:28:21.750

trevor stevenson: And, and that was tough again, we were able to pivot you know, we were able to make changes become much more lean.



00:28:22.650 --> 00:28:36.930

trevor stevenson: It taught us a lot during that you know how can we run this company, the most effectively and efficiently, that we can and we grew out of that seeing seeing what we you know we we had a lot of I guess fad that we didn't need laying around that.



00:28:38.130 --> 00:28:48.450

trevor stevenson: We still kind of employee that strategy today that we we run very cost effectively, but also to make sure that we have enough resources.



00:28:49.980 --> 00:28:51.810

trevor stevenson: treat our customers, the way they need to be treated.



00:28:53.220 --> 00:29:01.950

Michael Palumbos: love it I love it it's um it's interesting you know the what do they say tough times you know, sometimes come and go, but tough.



00:29:02.460 --> 00:29:09.810

Michael Palumbos: Tough people tough businesses last right, you know and and I think you know, one of the things and i'll share this with you.



00:29:10.590 --> 00:29:21.150

Michael Palumbos: A lot of family businesses don't know this, but they just live it, and so you just talked about how people know that we're a family business and we treat everybody as part of the family.



00:29:21.570 --> 00:29:34.260

Michael Palumbos: um I tell family businesses, you ever want to always make sure that you're telling everybody that your family owned that you know be proud of that generational stuff because it is rare to be a five generation business.



00:29:35.190 --> 00:29:45.360

Michael Palumbos: And so you've done something you know pretty incredible what I would say, you know is there's something out there, called the element trust barometer and it's a.



00:29:45.810 --> 00:29:55.380

Michael Palumbos: think tank that measures trusts and they do it in all different areas, but I remember, they measured it for family businesses versus non family businesses same industry.



00:29:55.800 --> 00:30:06.090

Michael Palumbos: family businesses across the board got a 20% bump in trust from both customers employees and you know that what else can you ask for.



00:30:06.360 --> 00:30:09.210

Michael Palumbos: So, making sure that you are living that culture.



00:30:09.360 --> 00:30:17.700

Michael Palumbos: Being that you know it's important I share with my team and we're small you know we've got a small team.



00:30:18.180 --> 00:30:29.550

Michael Palumbos: And we've been growing leaps and bounds, and as a business owner, I put my business owner hat on sometimes instead of my family hat on.



00:30:29.880 --> 00:30:41.790

Michael Palumbos: And so I have the conversation my employees That said, if I ever talked like a corporate employer, you have the right to remind me that the name family is in the name of our business.



00:30:42.480 --> 00:30:57.840

Michael Palumbos: And so it's it's it helps to keep me humble, we have our first girl and a woman is pregnant and so she's going out on maternity leave, and I have to you know between the three of us, nobody else is listening to this.



00:30:57.840 --> 00:31:11.010

Michael Palumbos: Right um you know we didn't have a maternity, I had never, never had to deal with that before, and so we sat down and I said, you know what do you want, and we just crafted it together we work back and forth.



00:31:11.430 --> 00:31:18.990

Michael Palumbos: And she was really happy with with it at the end, I think that we ended up with something that's better than many, many companies would have done.



00:31:20.190 --> 00:31:34.890

Michael Palumbos: And not so painful that you know we can't afford hey paid for six months and we'll take care of your kids you know we started a business to run so that's I think you bring that to the table on a regular basis, it sounds like that's pretty awesome.



00:31:35.040 --> 00:31:35.190

trevor stevenson: We.



00:31:35.220 --> 00:31:45.600

trevor stevenson: Are we do we do I mean every every customer that buys machine from us, I personally reach out to them and I don't think until the order, I think, and tell them, you know, welcome to the family.



00:31:46.200 --> 00:31:51.420

trevor stevenson: You know we're we're so glad you joined our family, and you know you'll be treated as such, going forward.



00:31:52.800 --> 00:32:00.360

trevor stevenson: We have we have a lot of people that have gone from our competitors to us because of that, and then they stay with us.



00:32:01.440 --> 00:32:06.090

trevor stevenson: And I think that's why that, obviously, we have a make we make a very good product to.



00:32:06.300 --> 00:32:07.710

robert stevenson: Of course, of course.



00:32:08.130 --> 00:32:15.510

trevor stevenson: yeah when when they feel like they're buying from an extended family member it's it's a little easier yeah.



00:32:16.260 --> 00:32:22.770

robert stevenson: and Michael I just to talk about your your night we my father and my grandfather we've always had women in executive.



00:32:22.770 --> 00:32:24.930

robert stevenson: positions and up.



00:32:25.980 --> 00:32:35.040

robert stevenson: executive one is runs our European sales in his Vice President European sales and marketing and the other one is Vice President of domestic sales here both young women in their.



00:32:35.820 --> 00:32:43.920

robert stevenson: Early 40s and during the Kobe time obviously when schools were closed and so on, I am very responsive to their.



00:32:44.430 --> 00:32:51.900

robert stevenson: You know, for a lot of men who had that problem they say, well, the wife stays home i'll still go to work well, they can't they have to they have a multiple children.



00:32:52.350 --> 00:32:55.470

robert stevenson: We worked it out, we said look I know you've got to take care of your kids.



00:32:55.890 --> 00:33:04.350

robert stevenson: And as long as you can do the job at home i'm very happy to have you stay home and do what you have to do, I mean try to make it in the office once in a while, maybe your husband can stay home one day and.



00:33:04.680 --> 00:33:15.900

robert stevenson: And it worked out and they're very appreciative of it and they both been with me 17 years and they both want to make it their full time career, because you know we understand that and that's what we try to try to try to do.



00:33:16.950 --> 00:33:27.330

robert stevenson: is make sure that our employees feel that we are concerned, for them, and we will do what it takes to make sure that they have the best opportunity I always say that.



00:33:27.930 --> 00:33:37.710

robert stevenson: You know, as I said, my job is to make sure that everyone has the right assets in the right environment to do their best they're the professionals I just am the guy who tries to organize it.



00:33:38.970 --> 00:33:39.810

Michael Palumbos: You conduct it.



00:33:39.840 --> 00:33:41.220

Michael Palumbos: you're the conductor.



00:33:41.490 --> 00:33:44.820

trevor stevenson: Instead we're all trying to keep it together.



00:33:45.210 --> 00:33:58.740

Michael Palumbos: yeah I love I love it um you talked about transition with your with you know from your dad Robert and that was a I want, I want to just say thank you for being vulnerable and sharing that with us because.



00:33:59.190 --> 00:34:14.310

Michael Palumbos: that's the kind of story that could save somebody else and that's why we do the show and and so you know, we had another episode, where I had consultants on who talked about That very fact of what happens when dad.



00:34:14.880 --> 00:34:27.840

Michael Palumbos: You know his head gets dementia and so you know we went through that whole process, and so there you know, there was an episode so For those of you who are listening right now and heard Roberts you know story in that.



00:34:28.110 --> 00:34:43.230

Michael Palumbos: You know resonated go back and find the other episode that we did, where we had the consultants on I don't remember the name of it, but we talked about you know what happens if, as you know, dad dad or mom is getting older and they won't let go.



00:34:43.830 --> 00:34:54.480

robert stevenson: Right, you know what, why did that one of the factors I learned from David Borg and was that you know the failures of family business it's not that the business fails, is that the family fails.



00:34:55.380 --> 00:35:03.900

robert stevenson: And so, how do you prevent that and how do you how do you manage a family business to in the extent that you have a good family, and you have a good business and one of the things he said it's.



00:35:04.410 --> 00:35:13.290

robert stevenson: Not all families are sort of work in the family business, and you have to make that decision and I, my my son has three sisters.



00:35:13.860 --> 00:35:22.890

robert stevenson: And I told him at the third I said i'm not going to bring siblings in just because they're your siblings I said when I go if you want to hire them that's your problem, not mine.



00:35:23.610 --> 00:35:33.120

robert stevenson: But i'm going to make sure they're taken care of equally that we treat everybody equally in terms of my estate work, but I don't want to crowd the business with people just because their family.



00:35:34.380 --> 00:35:42.960

robert stevenson: I have, I said, my youngest brother who finally decided that he didn't he was didn't want to be part of it anymore, and I said fine and we bought him on my older brother.



00:35:43.320 --> 00:35:49.260

robert stevenson: Who was an equal equity partner, but he has no responsibility, besides running our international business he can't sign a check.



00:35:49.920 --> 00:35:56.010

robert stevenson: And I tell a funny story about it that years ago when we were getting into the automated he wasn't I mean here we are selling.



00:35:56.790 --> 00:36:06.330

robert stevenson: 10s of thousands of our manual machines and it looked like we're having a great year and why are we getting into this new automated business, are we going to be successful it's going to cost a lot of money, and I said, if their future.



00:36:06.750 --> 00:36:09.510

robert stevenson: which proves to be right 90% of what we sell now is automated.



00:36:09.900 --> 00:36:12.840

robert stevenson: Right, he said I don't know if I want to assign this.



00:36:14.520 --> 00:36:24.570

robert stevenson: directors okay to purchase this business and as a way to you you've got to sign it well, I don't know if I want to sign it, so if you don't sign it then there's always for you to work here you're fired.



00:36:25.680 --> 00:36:31.620

robert stevenson: And he looked at me said well you can't fire me I said yes, I can, and I brought in our control if he doesn't get a paycheck this week.



00:36:32.190 --> 00:36:39.090

robert stevenson: And we tend to look at and I walked out and i'm sitting in my office and i'm like I just started my brother what am I doing and.



00:36:39.660 --> 00:36:45.480

robert stevenson: Finding about a couple hours that will fix it wait saying the guy damn document backscatter language signing documents you said oh.



00:36:46.470 --> 00:36:56.070

robert stevenson: And they lived happily ever after and now he thinks that that automated business was his idea which is okay that's Okay, but, but my point is.



00:36:56.880 --> 00:37:04.650

robert stevenson: You know you you, you have to sort of separate family and business, and you know, sometimes, if you do what's best for the business the family is going to be okay.



00:37:05.040 --> 00:37:08.820

robert stevenson: Right, if you think what's best for the family, the business isn't going to be okay.



00:37:09.420 --> 00:37:10.410

Michael Palumbos: hundred percent.



00:37:10.500 --> 00:37:21.870

robert stevenson: All right, take care that the family will will will prosper in a way, because you know we're all basically shareholder in a way, your family's always a shareholder in the business but they can't run the business.



00:37:22.200 --> 00:37:26.130

robert stevenson: And it's important to recognize who could who could run it and who just you know.



00:37:27.270 --> 00:37:36.750

robert stevenson: shouldn't be involved and I take that very seriously and I think that's one of the reasons we've been successful, to get the five generations is that philosophy has been continued.



00:37:39.030 --> 00:37:41.370

robert stevenson: it's not continue but it's been passed on.



00:37:41.850 --> 00:37:42.690

robert stevenson: You know down the.



00:37:43.350 --> 00:37:49.380

robert stevenson: grandfather had two brothers who were older and he could have invited him and he said no, I i've got this my father.



00:37:50.130 --> 00:37:59.730

robert stevenson: didn't want to have you know he had a younger brother didn't want him yo involved and that's the way the way it goes, and I think that's been the way we've been successful, is that.



00:38:00.720 --> 00:38:15.150

Michael Palumbos: Well, in and i'll throw to you, you know, one of the things you use the word because it's it's it's pushed upon us in the family business space so i'm a second generation family, you know my father started the business.



00:38:16.650 --> 00:38:25.950

Michael Palumbos: Failure and it's the failure if you don't move it from one generation to the next it's a failure, and I would and I caution people.



00:38:26.160 --> 00:38:33.180

Michael Palumbos: Against thinking that way, because the average company on the s&p doesn't last 15 years.



00:38:33.420 --> 00:38:40.470

Michael Palumbos: So if you're just one generation, my father ran a business for 40 years he was successful, regardless of whether.



00:38:40.680 --> 00:38:47.550

Michael Palumbos: I came and did anything with that business or not he's somebody would have bought that business and that might have been what was right for the family.



00:38:48.180 --> 00:38:57.450

Michael Palumbos: I just happened to be you know I had a degree in economics, I didn't know that I was going to like you know this this world and I got into it i'm like.



00:38:57.870 --> 00:39:06.540

Michael Palumbos: Oh, my gosh you know, for me, this is easy, because I just geek out about it and I love business and I love families, and you know just just fun.



00:39:06.930 --> 00:39:18.990

Michael Palumbos: But it's not a failure and if I don't have a child that decides to come into the business we don't you know have that opportunity, it will be fine you know i'll.



00:39:19.980 --> 00:39:29.190

Michael Palumbos: i'll drip something out real quick, we have the great grandson of one of my father's first clients interning with us right now.



00:39:30.390 --> 00:39:34.050

Michael Palumbos: So that's a pretty cool story i'm like if one of the one of my no nothing.



00:39:34.230 --> 00:39:53.130

Michael Palumbos: it'll happen, but it's just you know the people that we serve, here we are three generations later right 1234 generations later and one of the you know great great grandsons of one of our first clients wants to you know work with us that's pretty telling about who we are so.



00:39:54.000 --> 00:39:56.250

Michael Palumbos: alone and it's fits the same.



00:39:56.280 --> 00:40:00.840

trevor stevenson: The same, we had the same here to we have we have multiple generations have an.



00:40:00.870 --> 00:40:02.520

trevor stevenson: office in factory workers that.



00:40:04.140 --> 00:40:04.470

trevor stevenson: yeah.



00:40:04.740 --> 00:40:05.640

Michael Palumbos: It love that.



00:40:06.120 --> 00:40:20.910

Michael Palumbos: yeah when you talk about you know you're right now, where you sit today Trevor and you're you know you're meeting you know, Robert and Trevor you're meeting with the leadership team, the management team, what are the top three.



00:40:22.110 --> 00:40:31.650

Michael Palumbos: biggest you know things that you're working on today the pains the obstacles, the frustrations, what are the things that you guys are faced with today in this environment.



00:40:32.130 --> 00:40:38.430

trevor stevenson: Well, I mean immediate pains is what you know, most of the world is saying you know we're seeing pretty severe supply chain issues.



00:40:38.880 --> 00:40:52.860

trevor stevenson: Okay, so we've had to adapt to that and make make some pretty serious and involve engineering changes to do that so most of 2021 was doing that in terms of.



00:40:53.280 --> 00:41:07.590

trevor stevenson: My engineering team really had to pivot to make basically new products with with new components in there to run it because of the the current ones that we had you know we get 26 week lead times 52 weekly it just continues to grow.



00:41:07.650 --> 00:41:09.390

trevor stevenson: You know I mean that that put us out of business.



00:41:09.630 --> 00:41:18.960

trevor stevenson: Right and so that that would say that's one of the bigger challenges that we're dealing with now and it's getting better it's still it's still kind of week to week.



00:41:20.040 --> 00:41:31.260

trevor stevenson: But again, like I said we're very flexible and adaptable, so we kind of get through it, but, but it has been very stressful for for the invoice, especially for the production team.



00:41:31.920 --> 00:41:38.700

trevor stevenson: And really the sales team, because I mean we want to make sure that we're promising our customers and delivering to our customers what we what we tell them.



00:41:40.260 --> 00:41:50.820

trevor stevenson: I say that's one of the bigger things people you know I think this covert pandemic, especially on the younger generation has shifted their mindset on how they want to work.



00:41:52.170 --> 00:41:58.680

trevor stevenson: You know you read about everyone wants to work from home or at least partial from home it's very tough in a manufacturing company.



00:42:00.060 --> 00:42:14.610

trevor stevenson: I know my dad likes everybody here, and you know I don't know if that's an old school thought or not, but i'm kind of the same way, I want people here at the moderate the brainstorming sessions that take place it's very hard to do that through Microsoft teams.



00:42:15.660 --> 00:42:21.840

trevor stevenson: You know it's very hard to quickly go pop into somebody's office and discuss an idea or were to talk about an issue.



00:42:23.280 --> 00:42:27.600

trevor stevenson: But we're getting more and more pushback from the younger generations and.



00:42:28.470 --> 00:42:43.290

trevor stevenson: You know a lot of offices do offer that you know they offer these flexible hours they come when they want to work till they want to, you know as long as they kind of get their hours and but it doesn't necessarily work in a factory in a manufacturing setting.



00:42:45.090 --> 00:42:46.320

trevor stevenson: That that's that's tough.



00:42:47.490 --> 00:42:48.180

trevor stevenson: and



00:42:49.530 --> 00:42:58.200

trevor stevenson: I would say that we're somewhat flexible to that and somewhat open to some flexibility but it's not it's not a free for all, like some of these.



00:42:59.550 --> 00:43:01.950

trevor stevenson: Maybe technology companies that you see that.



00:43:04.320 --> 00:43:05.940

trevor stevenson: You see anybody you don't want.



00:43:06.090 --> 00:43:09.300

Michael Palumbos: easier when it's when you're on a computer all day long anyways.



00:43:09.360 --> 00:43:16.590

trevor stevenson: yeah yeah yeah you're stuck in a cubicle and you don't get off your computer and you know you're a service company or software company, by all means.



00:43:17.730 --> 00:43:20.250

trevor stevenson: But it's different it's different for manufacturing.



00:43:21.210 --> 00:43:27.510

Michael Palumbos: yeah Okay, I appreciate it when you when you look at those things, and you guys have probably talked about it so either one of you can chime in but.



00:43:28.050 --> 00:43:32.070

Michael Palumbos: How are you, you know what are the plans, how does the team.



00:43:32.760 --> 00:43:42.840

Michael Palumbos: operate to think through those things I was how has that been working what are some of the things that you look back and say, because you know the team was able to do X, Y or Z or.



00:43:43.170 --> 00:43:55.980

Michael Palumbos: You know we're still working on plans to overcome them I don't know if that makes sense, but you know what would you say the strengths of Ben that have allowed you to survive and to be thinking through this stuff.



00:43:56.670 --> 00:44:01.950

trevor stevenson: Well, I think we communicate very well as a team and senior management team we meet regularly.



00:44:03.060 --> 00:44:04.470

trevor stevenson: which I think is very important.



00:44:05.460 --> 00:44:05.910

Michael Palumbos: To me.



00:44:06.870 --> 00:44:09.840

trevor stevenson: The senior management team needs every two weeks together.



00:44:10.470 --> 00:44:10.770




00:44:11.970 --> 00:44:22.410

trevor stevenson: Sometimes more kind of ad hoc meetings again for a smaller company, but there's a dedicated staff meeting with senior management every two weeks to discuss these types of topics.



00:44:23.250 --> 00:44:23.820

trevor stevenson: yeah.



00:44:24.720 --> 00:44:34.950

robert stevenson: Go ahead i'm in constant you know I i'm not in buffalo right now, obviously down in Florida take a little time off and I don't take time off I just work in a different location.



00:44:36.450 --> 00:44:46.140

robert stevenson: I should say when I work from home, but I try to you know I talked to my coo I talked to my son, I talked to our head of sales and marketing almost every day.



00:44:46.650 --> 00:44:52.710

robert stevenson: and stay in touch with that and, of course, with the ability to look at what's going on, I ask.



00:44:53.040 --> 00:45:05.730

robert stevenson: That every email sent to a customer I get a copy of so I can keep a finger on that by and if I see something that's not right or I have a suggestion i'm happy to make it to say how can we improve our service, as I said, for us.



00:45:06.750 --> 00:45:15.630

robert stevenson: it's it's it's continuing we don't have a set thing where we're only going to discuss strategy every two weeks, I know we have a meeting we discuss strategy every day.



00:45:16.200 --> 00:45:27.000

robert stevenson: we're always we're always thinking of what we can do we, you know Trevor mentioned it earlier and I like to say I can't say I this originally idea I think I.



00:45:27.570 --> 00:45:35.940

robert stevenson: read it in some management book that is not the big fish that eat that survive it's the fast fish the fast fish in the in the ocean or.



00:45:36.450 --> 00:45:42.990

robert stevenson: survive so it's it's not the big that beat the little it's the fastest beat everybody and we try to be fast and if you're going to.



00:45:43.560 --> 00:45:59.190

robert stevenson: have to be continually discussing what you can do to improve it's it's not something well we'll that's kind of wait till the next management meeting to discuss it no it's it's head on with get it done let's figure it out right away there's always something happening and they're always.



00:46:01.980 --> 00:46:10.800

robert stevenson: A situation where we want to sit down and discuss what we could do better, what are we going to do if this doesn't work let's Plan B and plan B doesn't work, we have a plan see.



00:46:11.190 --> 00:46:20.070

robert stevenson: we're in the middle right now have an expansion we're adding 10,000 feet, to the factory, we also bought a Jason building to to add to so we're adding a lot 30,000 square feet.



00:46:20.430 --> 00:46:36.780

robert stevenson: To our facilities, we have 140,000 square feet, right now, so not only are we dealing with is Trevor said supply chain issues we're also dealing with handling this construction which has been a little behind schedule, getting that or get a bringing in more people to find them.



00:46:38.070 --> 00:46:44.790

robert stevenson: You know it's a continuing process and people, you know it's, as you probably aware, Michael is hard to get people to work today.



00:46:46.080 --> 00:46:50.400

robert stevenson: You know adjusting salaries to compensate people, but in this changing environment.



00:46:52.140 --> 00:46:58.770

robert stevenson: And and making sure we still meet our financial goals and we continually survey that.



00:47:00.150 --> 00:47:05.910

robert stevenson: So I would say, you know i'm talking about strategy it's an ongoing process.



00:47:07.110 --> 00:47:20.310

robert stevenson: We don't formally sit down once a month or something so okay let's review our strategy process it's, as I said, it's a continuing work in progress, and I think the successful companies do that, and this is my son said communication is key.



00:47:21.720 --> 00:47:27.690

robert stevenson: And I like the fact that we're all able to communicate successfully and everybody understands understands the goal.



00:47:28.560 --> 00:47:30.660

Michael Palumbos: that's great so when.



00:47:32.010 --> 00:47:46.680

Michael Palumbos: 100% agree strategy is not an event it's not a conversation it's always has to be happening, do you, you know you, you had this pivot back in I guess it was the 80s, when you went to the automatic or was it the 90s sorry.



00:47:47.460 --> 00:47:49.260

robert stevenson: 1995 is when we purchased a.



00:47:49.260 --> 00:47:49.590




00:47:51.840 --> 00:47:59.940

robert stevenson: Little company in San Francisco that's sort of a funny story and they they they were making sales for the america's cup racing teams.



00:48:00.390 --> 00:48:12.270

robert stevenson: Okay, fails, and in I didn't i'm not a sailor, but, for I understand is that the sales are basically big wind, you know wink wink their their wings.



00:48:12.360 --> 00:48:13.050

Michael Palumbos: their 40s.



00:48:13.590 --> 00:48:17.730

robert stevenson: And they're not made of canvas anymore they're made of synthetic materials and.



00:48:18.930 --> 00:48:26.850

robert stevenson: Based upon the wind conditions they from one day to the next, they need a new sale and how do you make it fast and this little company figure out a way to do this cnc.



00:48:27.330 --> 00:48:35.760

robert stevenson: And they thought that it was an idea how to commercialize it and they started their own little business and was called you know North sales automated cutting systems.



00:48:36.150 --> 00:48:41.100

robert stevenson: And they were doing about $600,000 a year, and they approached us and said, would you like to distribute our product.



00:48:41.490 --> 00:48:55.560

robert stevenson: And I said well you're a sale, making company where manufacture I tell you what why don't we just buy it will give you will give you a royalty for a few years to pay for it and we've turned that from $600,000 your business to a $40 million business.



00:48:56.220 --> 00:48:58.320

Michael Palumbos: Bravo guys.



00:48:59.100 --> 00:49:09.180

robert stevenson: we're still growing it and it's been a fun fun thing and, as I said when I bought the business for my dad in 1988 we didn't have any of that.



00:49:10.980 --> 00:49:23.820

robert stevenson: 90% of what we manufacture we didn't make back in 1988 so it's a completely different it's same business cutting as our business, but where we cut and who we sell to is totally different and it's been fun.



00:49:24.300 --> 00:49:32.910

robert stevenson: And it's kept me kept me energized because it's it's fun to see the growth it's fun to be there and it's fun to learn about all these you know my son knows far better about it than I do.



00:49:33.300 --> 00:49:44.970

robert stevenson: But it's fun to see all the diverse industries we're now into, for example, just for your listeners spacex and blue origin and NASA they all use our machines Aerospace is a big market of ours.



00:49:48.360 --> 00:49:49.800

robert stevenson: Military is a big market.



00:49:51.300 --> 00:49:59.760

robert stevenson: The Marine industry, the sleeping free the glass into three I mean the furniture industry goes on and on, so are.



00:50:01.350 --> 00:50:11.250

robert stevenson: Our possibilities are endless I mean I think for my son I if I if I still around in 30 years and he's still around and 30 years he'll be he'll be getting to be my age.



00:50:12.480 --> 00:50:14.130

robert stevenson: Of to see what the business looks like then.



00:50:15.690 --> 00:50:16.230

robert stevenson: I think it's gonna be.



00:50:16.950 --> 00:50:33.990

Michael Palumbos: that's pretty exciting so Trevor, you know as you as you're meeting with the management team your leadership team today, do you guys have a vision for you know how far out does your vision go 10 1520 years are you went that far when you're thinking about things.



00:50:34.380 --> 00:50:43.410

trevor stevenson: I a little bit you know, in terms of you know my my kids but I tend to think more 510 years.



00:50:43.590 --> 00:50:46.080

trevor stevenson: Okay, what what's the business going to look like what how.



00:50:46.110 --> 00:50:58.710

trevor stevenson: How do we need to continue to grow, what do we need to continue to grow, what are some technologies that we need some acquisitions that we might need to make that more vertically integrated for the company.



00:50:59.910 --> 00:51:01.830

trevor stevenson: or even some compelling or.



00:51:02.940 --> 00:51:06.870

trevor stevenson: competing products that we would add, you know, like to add to our life.



00:51:08.460 --> 00:51:08.790

Michael Palumbos: Great.



00:51:09.240 --> 00:51:15.480

trevor stevenson: You know what one of the things that we didn't really touch on much as you know, soft software is a very big part of the automated industry.



00:51:15.930 --> 00:51:23.670

trevor stevenson: Okay, and that's something that we want to continue to grow and improve on there's a lot of.



00:51:25.080 --> 00:51:37.740

trevor stevenson: there's a lot of push into more automation in terms of what can the software do for you, what can the software do for the customer, a lot of data driven analytics obviously industry 4.0.



00:51:38.790 --> 00:51:47.670

trevor stevenson: But also getting getting to the point where automation is truly truly automation where you have robotics running the machines.



00:51:48.780 --> 00:51:52.830

trevor stevenson: Right now we're at the point where you can have a robot pick off pieces off the machine.



00:51:53.130 --> 00:52:03.180

trevor stevenson: But no one has made a robot yet to run the machine, you know the lay up the material and and push the go button, but we're getting close that's.



00:52:03.270 --> 00:52:16.620

Michael Palumbos: It is really you know everything is changing its even in our industry, you know they talked about the robo advisor you know and so it's it's it's out there and it's coming and.



00:52:17.790 --> 00:52:32.790

Michael Palumbos: I would say that the robots the Ai will never replace creative thinking that we bring to the table and and how to take all these pieces and put it together, but it can definitely make things easier faster and better sometimes.



00:52:32.850 --> 00:52:33.930

trevor stevenson: As we as we're doing things.



00:52:33.930 --> 00:52:39.990

trevor stevenson: yeah and we're seeing that to also you know, not just in the products that we make, but also trying to automate our factory.



00:52:40.410 --> 00:52:40.980

Michael Palumbos: sure.



00:52:41.190 --> 00:52:57.540

trevor stevenson: You know it's a you know when you're around for 135 years some things are hard to change you've got people saying, well, we could not do that because, or we you know we've done this, the same way forever and it works, but i'm always thinking well how can it work better.



00:52:57.990 --> 00:52:58.350

trevor stevenson: You know.



00:52:58.380 --> 00:53:13.620

trevor stevenson: What can, what can we do to make it improve, and we do have a we have a pretty robust machine shop, we have some very antiquated old drills and lays and and mills they're actually painted war war two colors you want to know how old they are.



00:53:15.000 --> 00:53:30.720

trevor stevenson: Great great machines that produced a product, but we also have started to transition into automated cnc machines, to make our parks as allowed us become much more efficient and deliver parts to our to our factory tour quicker.



00:53:31.500 --> 00:53:31.980




00:53:33.120 --> 00:53:36.960

Michael Palumbos: So I want to say thank you both for joining us today.



00:53:38.220 --> 00:53:40.350

Michael Palumbos: I wrap up with you know.



00:53:41.550 --> 00:53:46.890

Michael Palumbos: Is there anything that you didn't get to say that if you were talking to another family business owner.



00:53:47.280 --> 00:53:56.100

Michael Palumbos: And just kind of offering your best advice or training that you've gone through that somebody else or a book or you know.



00:53:56.610 --> 00:54:04.980

Michael Palumbos: In family employment policy, just something that you know POPs into your head, what would you want to what is your two cents of advice that you'd like to share with them.



00:54:06.150 --> 00:54:06.810

robert stevenson: Do I go first.



00:54:07.560 --> 00:54:13.620

trevor stevenson: Sure um well being the younger being the son, I would say communication is key.



00:54:14.640 --> 00:54:21.120

trevor stevenson: You know communication with my father is key and understanding, where his head is at and.



00:54:22.500 --> 00:54:25.470

trevor stevenson: The kind of the vision that he continues to have as a CEO.



00:54:26.580 --> 00:54:39.450

trevor stevenson: You know the plan for myself and plan for the business, but with with with me now helping to steer it as well, I think that continuously communication, but I really think that's, the key to business.



00:54:40.560 --> 00:54:47.130

trevor stevenson: You know, not having as dad alluded to, you know not having too many family members in the business I think that's.



00:54:47.670 --> 00:54:58.260

trevor stevenson: One reason, a lot of family businesses fail, as you know, you have a starter, and then it just grows and it kind of the family, the whole family tree is involved in the business you got it you're paying way too many people.



00:54:59.160 --> 00:55:07.740

trevor stevenson: That really dilutes the profits out of the business and obviously we have a lot of inner turmoil and family fighting that I think that.



00:55:08.280 --> 00:55:23.580

trevor stevenson: can really ruin a business, so I think that that's one reason Eastman has succeeded from a family business standpoint is having a minimal amount and just the right amount of family members business to continue the business to grow.



00:55:24.660 --> 00:55:25.800

Michael Palumbos: love it Thank you.



00:55:26.370 --> 00:55:33.960

robert stevenson: I would say to a to another family number one understand that not all members of the family do business, the same way.



00:55:35.070 --> 00:55:38.640

robert stevenson: And you know, for example, my brother loves to be at work.



00:55:40.950 --> 00:55:57.000

robert stevenson: He really takes vacation he doesn't really enjoy it and he's there all the time he's there all the time he's also a part time author and he loves doing other stuff and we made a we made a family business document that basically says.



00:55:58.290 --> 00:56:05.550

robert stevenson: let's let's not judge each other by our work habits let's judge each other by our results.



00:56:06.060 --> 00:56:12.720

robert stevenson: And if we have good results I don't care if he's there eight hours a day or two hours a day, as long as the business gets done, you know that's fine.



00:56:13.260 --> 00:56:19.740

robert stevenson: And I think that's important for us to understand that we all don't show up at the same time, at the same ideas.



00:56:20.220 --> 00:56:29.010

robert stevenson: And you know, make sure you have a shareholders agreement or whatever that that recognizes that and and also.



00:56:29.520 --> 00:56:38.490

robert stevenson: That you communicate with the other family members are not involved in the business, I mean what the expectations are and what you know we're thinking of, and I think that's that's important.



00:56:39.180 --> 00:56:52.800

robert stevenson: In terms of in terms of running a business, as I said just make make sure you understand that you know, taking care of your people taking care of your Community or your customers if you do that, and you think you're going to be successful.



00:56:55.140 --> 00:57:00.930

robert stevenson: continue to advance to you know be be sensitive to what's going on in the world, I think, no one is.



00:57:01.440 --> 00:57:07.560

robert stevenson: We all don't have the ability to see a head, but I think we do have an intuitive sense of what's happening.



00:57:08.070 --> 00:57:17.670

robert stevenson: As they said, my decision to get into automated was a sense back in in the 90s, was that apparel is increasingly production was moving overseas.



00:57:18.450 --> 00:57:27.090

robert stevenson: We weren't going to be able to compete a successful overseas, but there was a growing industry what's called a composite or text technical textile business.



00:57:27.420 --> 00:57:38.070

robert stevenson: That was going to grow up and we ought to be involved in that so choose your sandbox wisely and play in it and don't get out of it, you know, we made a mistake, back in the 80s.



00:57:39.270 --> 00:57:50.910

robert stevenson: Mid 80s, we had a customer who is making jackets in town and they were varsity jackets you see kids were you know with their name and blazing and the name as a school this guy or this a lot of money and.



00:57:51.450 --> 00:57:57.840

robert stevenson: The sales guy for that organization, you know why don't you just tell me oh by the business, let him get walk away.



00:57:58.170 --> 00:58:06.780

robert stevenson: And we're going to sell a lot of jackets week there's a market for they just went sky doesn't make them fast enough, I said wow this is pretty good why why don't we do that.



00:58:07.770 --> 00:58:20.970

robert stevenson: we're in that business, well, we did we invested quite a bit of money we ended up losing it all, and as an advisor said he said you got your you paid for your MBA.



00:58:23.700 --> 00:58:26.670

robert stevenson: You paid for it to learn stick to what you know.



00:58:27.330 --> 00:58:38.520

robert stevenson: You you know something but stick to what you know so i've always said, you know people come to us and say gee why don't you do this or do that it's not it's not it's not our business, we understand cutting let's stick to that.



00:58:38.940 --> 00:58:45.240

robert stevenson: And we've been pretty successful at doing that, so I would tell any other family stay in your lane, you know try.



00:58:47.490 --> 00:58:52.710

robert stevenson: and be as competent, as you can in that area, it will be successful.



00:58:53.130 --> 00:59:02.250

Michael Palumbos: I love it and there's nothing wrong, you know it's I always hold up my hand and people that are listening can't see this, but if your thumb is your core business.



00:59:02.550 --> 00:59:16.980

Michael Palumbos: The moment you move two fingers away anything further than two fingers away from your core starts to get really, really, you know out out there and right to exactly what you're saying Robert you need to stick as close to your core as you possibly can.



00:59:17.520 --> 00:59:24.990

Michael Palumbos: Right Robert Trevor Stephenson from East machine and buffalo New York, thank you both for joining us.



00:59:25.680 --> 00:59:29.790

Michael Palumbos: This has been you know enlightening and I really appreciate everything that you've shared.



00:59:30.180 --> 00:59:43.260

Michael Palumbos: My name is Michael Columbus, this is the family biz show on with family wealth and legacy in Rochester New York, thank you for joining us and we look forward to having you listen to next up some of the future episodes have a great day, everybody.



00:59:43.320 --> 00:59:44.040

trevor stevenson: Thank you, Michael.



00:59:44.460 --> 00:59:46.410

robert stevenson: Thank you bye go YouTube bye bye.



00:59:46.800 --> 00:59:47.070


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