Sometimes working for your dad seems like destiny, but taking over the family business wasn’t always the plan. There are many second- and third-generation medtech manufacturers run by executives following in their dads’ footsteps. Here’s what they learned.Eric Crainich, president and owner of Design Standards (Charlestown, N.H.), was told from a young age that it was essentially his destiny to take over the company his father founded in Connecticut in 1971.
“Nothing would make him prouder or happier, and in the back of my mind, I knew that’s where I would land,” Crainich said.
As with many second- and third-generation business owners, though, Crainich didn’t take a straight path to the top of his dad’s company. He forged his own path — even as he kept lessons learned from his dad Larry Crainich close to his heart.
For two summers in high school, Eric Crainich went to work for a carpenter. His father was upset that he went to work for someone else, but he ended up getting experience from different markets outside of Connecticut in Manhattan and Germany as he went on to attend Northeastern University. When he graduated, he went to work for U.S. Surgical in Germany, much to his father’s dismay. But, after talking it through with him, they came to the agreement that working for other companies and gaining experience would position him to be able to take on a leadership role at Design Standards.In 1988, Design Standards opened its second facility in New Hampshire. By 1994, the market uncertainty during Clinton-era healthcare reform forced consolidation, resulting in the closing of the Bridgeport, Conn. facility.
Crainich joined the company in 1994 to work alongside his father, who made him work his way up through the ranks.
“He put me in a sales role which quickly turned into an inside sales role because we communicated like a small company, yet we were working with very large organizations,” Crainich said. “At that point, we did not put a premium on communication. It was just something that we needed to do, and we’d get around to doing it.”
By 2002, Crainich was handed the responsibilities of running Design Standards. His father Larry Crainich retired in 2006.
Oscor was founded in 1982 by Thomas Osypka’s father as a sister company of its main Germany-based company. Originally a manufacturer of finished implantable pacemaker leads, Oscor is now a finished device company with its own regulatory approvals and with larger device companies as competition.Osypka never knew he was going to work for his dad. He wanted to have his own company.
“I never knew I would be working for my dad or taking over his company,” Osypka said. “In the end, once I started working for my dad, I fell in love with medical devices and was falling in love with the business.”
Osypka’s dad sold the company in 1996, but Osypka bought it back in 1999. Upon getting the company back, he realized that instead of competing with the larger companies, he should be treating them as customers.
“I soon realized that better than competing in this industry with a finished device against larger competitors, it is much more profitable and fun to change your competitors to customers by offering turnkey finished devices and accessories they don’t like to make themselves,” Osypka said.
Over the last five years, Oscor has grown an average of 20% and is expected to reach more than $60 million in revenue this year.Acme Monaco (New Britain, Conn.) has been a family business for three generations. Lucas Karabin’s family purchased Acme Spring in 1965. Through the years, Karabin’s grandfather, uncle and father have had a chance to run the company. Now, Karabin and his sister Rebecca Karabin-Ahern are co-presidents of the company.
Acme Monaco is a manufacturer of medical guidewires stampings and springs and uses a number of materials including nitinol. However, the company started off as Acme Spring making miniature bearing ring enclosures for aeronautics, defense, motion controls and rapid advances in small machining. Acme Spring later bought Monaco Spring in 1972 and merged in 1984 to become Acme Monaco.
The company has since expanded and has three manufacturing facilities in the U.S., two of which are located in Presque Isle, Maine.
Karabin sort of knew he would end up working for the family business. He started working for the company at the age of 14 by just going in and cleaning up different areas and sweeping the parking lot.
“I kind of had it in the back of my mind for a better portion of my life,” Karabin said.
Even though it was a family business, he still had to work his way through the ranks. Karabin’s interview for Acme Monaco was done by his uncle and his dad.
“Going through the interview process with your uncle and your dad is kind of a memorable experience,” Karabin said.
They gave him tasks like working in sales processing, working in customer service and driving grandma to the post office every once in awhile.
Here are 5 lessons these manufacturing company executives have learned from their dads while taking over the family business.