Working with your father isn’t always something you grow up thinking you are going to do. And sometimes taking over your dad’s advanced manufacturing company wasn’t always the plan either.Dennis Tully, current president of MTD Micro Molding (Charlton, Mass.), was involved with the contract manufacturer from his high school days. He cleaned the machines and ended up operating some of them by the time he got to college. When he got out of college, he worked for a couple of other companies until his father called and asked if he was interested in joining the family business full-time.
“The desire to help the family business was pretty intriguing and that was the challenge that I couldn’t say no to,” said Tully.
Until Tully was the plant manager, he never saw himself running the company and taking over for his father.
“I just went with the flow. Eventually, it became obvious that there was an opportunity further down the road to buy my dad out,” Tully said. “That pretty much evolved over time, but it certainly wasn’t the plan from the beginning.”Tanya DiSalvo has a passion for sales, and that’s her forte. She never thought that down the road she would be running precision machine shop Criterion (Cleveland), started by her grandfather who passed it to her father who eventually passed it on to her.
“My dad moved into a new facility in Brookpark [Ohio] and wanted to expand his sales capabilities, and I sent in my resume.”
She started off working in sales and, as part of her training, learned how the machines worked. Sooner or later, there was an opportunity for her to buy out her dad when he decided to retire.
“We made a conscious decision that my dad was going to retire, and I was going to buy him out,” DiSalvo said.
Leadership at Sil-Pro – a Delano, Minn.–based medical device molding, maching and assembly company – has also been passed from father to son. Kevin Carver was involved in the company since its inception, when he joined the company as the VP of operations. In 2006, his father started to retire, and Carver then had the opportunity to become president.
One of the things that drew Carver to join Sil-Pro was that he could work with his dad.
“I could partner with my dad in business. My dad and I have a great relationship and I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity in life to be able to be alongside my dad as we venture out into this new endeavor,” Carver said. “I wanted to be there to support my dad later in his career.”
Contract manufacturing presidents who have taken over from their fathers have learned many lessons from the previous generations. What their dads taught the helped them continue to build their companies and specialize in increasingly advanced manufacturing, including in the medical device space. Here are 5 lessons that these presidents have learned from their dads.