For those of you old enough, like myself we remember a trip to the local hardware store. The owner usually waited on you or his son or daughter. When you needed an appliance you went to the local appliance store. Your prescription was filled by your local pharmacy. The small grocery store on the corner was a definite weekly stop. We shopped with locally owned mom and pop stores. You dealt with the owner and knew the people who waited on you.
Then came the giants! Depots, Mega Stores, Warehouse stores, HUGE chains. Mom and Pop disappeared. Now I’m not a giant store hater. Home Depot is one of my favorite places. I love Walgreens (especially since I worked their for 31 years). The mega stores generally have everything I’m looking for and at incredible prices. But I do miss Mom and Pop. I nostalgically envision window shopping in the crisp air and looking at the stores Christmas window displays. I miss knowing the owner personally and hanging out talking about cars at the local auto parts store. It’s all gone.
Ebsco is a third generation, family owned business. My wife, Cheryl’s grandfather started the company. We all have a lot of pride in that. Cheryl personally hands out paychecks every week. She is out in the shop talking to employees and making sure quality parts get out the door. She knows most of the employees families and they know all about hers (most of us work there). After 31 years working for a fortune 100 company I really like it. The sense of pride drives me to be my very best.
This too is under siege. The trend is investment companies buying up several independent spring manufacturers to create one large company. Ebsco receives emails and calls every week looking to add us to these corporate hybrids. They infuse cash to buy equipment and bring in the benefits of the corporate world. It can be difficult to compete with. But there are still several companies that have pride in their heritage and just say NO, like Cheryl. Cheryl’s vision is handing the business down to her son to see Ebsco’s fourth generation take off.
The question is “How do we compete?” Ebsco is doing it. In a day of dealing with big corporate conglomerates there is something refreshing in dealing directly with the owner. When the employees feel a sense of belonging to the family there is a pride and a quality that big corporations can’t attain. Without the corporate red tape, Ebsco can react faster and satisfy customers needs in a way the big boys just can’t handle. The lack of red tape and corporate BS actually reduces costs and allows us to be very competitive.
So when you feel a sense of loss over the locally owned independent small business, know we are still out there. Standing tall and going toe to toe with the big guys and winning every day. We’re not going anywhere!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I brought some work home with me I need to do.