By Wanda Lenoir
Working in the family business requires compromise and accepting the decisions of those in leadership. That’s not always easy when the department’s manager is a close relative. However, the Burch family at Sashco has operated a thriving business for over 85 years. There have been ups and downs, but sheer determination and clear vision go a long way. There is an opportunity in the home improvement industry for entrepreneurs to share ideas and learn from each other. Sashco has created a culture that celebrates people, products, and performance. Find out what it takes to make that happen.
Sashco Builds on Its Past to Shape the Future
Working in the family business requires compromise and accepting the decisions of those in leadership. That’s not always easy when the department manager is a close relative. However, the Burch family at Sashco has operated a thriving business for over 85 years. There have been ups and downs, but sheer determination and clear vision go a long way. There is an opportunity in the home improvement industry for entrepreneurs to share ideas and learn from each other. Sascho has created a culture that celebrates people, products, and performance. Find out what it takes to make that happen.
What are some of the significant challenges of operating a family-owned business?
There are challenges in running every small business. Being family-owned adds to its uniqueness. Family businesses must understand the need to separate ownership from ’employeeship –yes, this is a made-up word, and we want it to be made-up!!] More disruption comes from this than any other factor. As employees, family members should be treated as any other employee who fits the job. This includes performance expectations, salary range, hours worked, and benefits. Problems arise when family members expect employment or special treatment regardless of job type or performance. When this happens, companies often lose good people who suffer the consequences of workarounds and become discouraged. The opposite can also happen. The family leader can expect higher loyalty, more hours, and less pay than given to other employees. Indeed, in the early stages, family may step up to this knowing that their sweat will one day yield equity. But this cannot remain a habit as the company grows.
Is the hiring process different for family members?
Owners build equity through time and distributions if any are made. Employees get market-based compensation and benefits. The two should not be confused. To do this, families must set these ground rules before employment begins, whether it is a daughter, a cousin, or an aunt. Everyone must know they will be hired for their skills, work ethic, and cultural fitness. The pain of growth will be that family members that ‘got you there’ may not be able to take you to the next level.
You have a new building. How does the design support your culture?
Our building was designed to create a place for Sashco members to interact and guests to feel welcomed. Our vision for the new space was ‘One Company’. By this, we mean that we are proud of being a manufacturing business. Every Sashco member comes in the door on equal footing. When you walk in our front door, our manufacturing facility lays out before you through large glass panels and doors. Everyone is expected to come to work through the front door. There are no side entrances, and no one is a second-class citizen.
The company’s shared values are people-oriented. Why is that important?
Culture is everything; it is ‘how we do things around here ‘ Most important are our Relational Values of truth, trust, care, forgiveness, and respect. These are the guidelines for how we treat each other, our customers, vendors, and visitors off the street. When aligned on these, we are free to work on our goals and not on each other. We hope to maintain a non-political environment, making our decisions for the good of the functional team or the larger organization in contrast to self-promotion.
Identify innovations that are driving change in the caulk and sealant industry.
The last decade has seen an increase in the quality of offerings in the industry. The lowest-performing technologies of old are, by and large, unavailable. New hybrid technologies also combine traditional urethanes and silicones, which are getting substantial traction. Even in the last few years, the performance of these hybrids has seen an upward trend.
Name a few of the company’s best-selling products.
Big Stretch is a popular product due to its flexibility and durability. It’s used for various applications and can expand and contract with weather conditions.
Lexel is known as the “duct tape of all caulks,” Lexel is well-loved for its clear finish and strong adhesive properties. It can seal just about anything and can be used indoors and outdoors.
Through The Roof! is specifically designed to stop and prevent roof leaks. It’s long-lasting and stays clear and flexible.
What role does customer feedback play in research and development?
We highly value our relationships with our end users and retail partners, recognizing them as integral to our success. By inviting these key stakeholders to participate in workshops, we seek to cultivate an environment of collaboration and shared expertise.
Feedback on product performance, building and remodeling processes, and retail support needs is essential for us to align our efforts with the real-world demands of our customers and partners. This information gives us direct insights into what is working well and what needs improvement, allowing us to refine our offerings and improve the overall customer experience.
This feedback is crucial for our research and development process. It enables us to create innovative products and solutions that meet our customers’ specific needs, ensuring that their products and services remain competitive, effective, and relevant.
By fostering this feedback-driven, participatory approach, we ensure that our relationship with end users and retail partners goes beyond a mere transactional interaction. It becomes a true partnership where mutual growth and success are prioritized.
In essence, these workshops serve as a testament to our commitment to customer satisfaction and collaborative innovation, driving us to deliver better products and services that truly resonate with our customers and partners. We like to call it delighting the customer in a better way.
Briefly explain the purpose of the #Skiplunchchallenge.
The #skiplunchchallenge was born out of our drive to support the trades. We want to partner with high school trades teachers to bring awareness to these great programs that interest students in building careers in the trades. The idea was to challenge our #Sashcommunity on social media to skip going out to lunch, instead donating the money they would have spent to the trades program being promoted in that quarter.
Supporting the trades, or skilled trade jobs is crucial because these careers are essential to our society. Trade professionals, including electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters, and many others, provide services that keep our infrastructure running. Despite this, these jobs often face a stigma and are frequently undervalued compared to other career paths.
Moreover, the trade faces a labor shortage in many parts of the world, including the United States. This is due to several factors, including an aging workforce and a societal push towards four-year degrees at the expense of vocational and technical education.
We’re supporting the trades by promoting vocational education and apprenticeship programs, investing in training and equipment for these jobs, and spreading awareness about the importance and value of these careers.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs launching a business in today’s economic climate?
Ensure you have a product or service that is decidedly different from that being offered. And have a passion to deliver that difference to your target customer. You must provide a value the customer is not now getting. Watch Shark Tank.
What is the one essential thing retailers should know about Sashco?
Our brand approach is two-pronged. First, we make one high-performance product for each project and use it. We are after the “I Care” end-user. This gives rise to our second advantage for the retailer. We greatly simplify the consumer’s choice and reduce what we call ‘caulk confusion.’ We don’t fill retailers’ shelves with ‘good, better, best.’ For instance, if a DIYer or contractor needs to fix a roof leak, we offer one brand, ‘Through the Roof. It is the best we make, and it really works.