Multi-generational companies were once the norm in the cleaning industry. But over the last couple of decades, there appears to have been a shift, with the younger generation opting not to accept the torch from their parents by either not participating or selling off the family business altogether. One company that is bucking this trend and prospering is Haviland Corp. The Linn, MO-based manufacturer of squeegees and other janitorial equipment is not just a third-generation family business, it’s one led by a mother/daughter team, a true rarity in the industry.
Under the leadership of Jan Haviland, president and chief operating officer, and her daughter Alice “Ali” Andrews, executive vice president, the company is thriving in an era where many family firms are facing divestment and consolidation.
“It’s really grand having my daughter here, with her new ideas and enthusiasm,” said Haviland. “And not just because of her love of the business, but her love of the people in the business. It makes coming into the office every day extremely special.”
Growing & Growing up
Family has always been a pillar to the success of Haviland Corp. The company was founded in 1946 in St. Louis, MO, by Warren Haviland. Starting out manufacturing floor squeegees, the business grew exponentially over the years as the product line was expanded to include replacement blades for wet/dry floor vacuums and later, a paving division. Warren’s son, Randy, joined the firm full time in 1969. In 1974 after nearly three decades in St. Louis, Haviland Corp. moved to its current location in Linn.
“My husband’s family has had property in Missouri’s Osage County since 1914,” said Haviland. “Every weekend it seemed we were out there enjoying the area. So, when we outgrew our St. Louis facility, an industrial park in Linn made an offer my father-in-law could not refuse. We packed up and moved two hours west of St. Louis, and we’ve been here ever since.”
Andrews remembers being a part in the family business almost all her life. “I feel like I’ve always been involved with Haviland Corp.,” she said. “On every trip to my grandparents’ house as a kid, there was always some sort of business conversation. When I was about three or four years old, my father, Randy, would bring me into work with him on Saturday mornings to help distribute interoffice mail to everyone’s desk. I went to my first ISSA show when I was 12 and that was amazing. I was blown away by the size and the scope of everything that was offered. Once I turned 16, I made it my mission to start working part-time for the family business. I’ve been a full-time employee since 2005.”
According to Haviland and Andrews, ISSA has been a consistent influence in Haviland Corp. “Even when I was a kid attending the ISSA show, some of my favorite people there were the ‘old-timers,’” said Andrews. “They had ideas and insight that they were happy to share with me. And in all honesty, some of those principles I learned back then, I still hold close in my mind with business dealings. They really made an impact on me, my business sense, and my love of the industry overall. Those classy older guys really knew how to do it right!”
It wasn’t just the industry veterans imparting wisdom on Andrews at the ISSA trade shows that impacted the success of Haviland Corp. According to her mother, ISSA has been intertwined with the family business almost since the start. “We’ve been involved with the association in some way since the beginning,” said Haviland. “We joined a year after we manufactured our first squeegee, becoming a member in 1947 of what was then called the National Sanitary Supply Association. As a company, we really felt like ISSA was an organization that cared about its members and always tried to help participants grow throughout the years. It is not just the trade shows ISSA puts on that are important to us, it’s the ongoing education the association offers with its seminars and webinars.”
Andrews agrees with her mother’s sentiment that ISSA is more than an annual trade show. “We try to take advantage of what ISSA offers to boost our knowledge and our employee’s skills,” she said. “In addition to the educational offerings, we have the opportunity to meet and network with members from around the world and work with them on shaping the cleaning industry.”
ISSA membership has never been a one-way street for Haviland Corp. The family has been an active participant in the organization almost from the get-go. “My father-in-law, Warren, was secretary of ISSA in 1954, served as a district director in the 1960s, and was a member of the ISSA Foundation board in 1990,” said Haviland. “Following in his father’s footsteps, my late husband, Randy, was extremely active in ISSA in the 1990s.”
In fact, anyone active in ISSA in the 1990s probably recalls interacting with Randy. He was ISSA treasurer in 1991, was elected vice president-president elect in 1994, and in 1995 served as ISSA president. In 2000, Randy received the ISSA Jack D. Ramaley Industry Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.
Andrews and her mother have seen quite a few changes in the jansan world over the years. One welcome change has been an increase of women in the industry, especially in leadership roles.
“Over my time with the company, I’ve seen the entry of more and more women into our workplace,” says Andrews. “And it has been extremely positive for everyone. I think they can bring in some new and interesting ideas that are maybe less obvious. For example, since females are more often the users of sanitary supplies, having them look at design and function from their point of view is beneficial. As far as Haviland Corp. being a women-owned business, that’s something we really don’t think about. We simply focus on putting our customers first while empowering our employees and manufacturing our products in the United States.”
Making a Home
Familial bonds at Haviland Corp. go beyond the executive offices, permeating throughout the company’s culture and organizational chart. “We look at employees as part of our extended family,” said Andrews. “We want them to feel at home here, that Haviland Corp. is more than a place to come and collect a paycheck. We have a scholarship program for our employee’s children to further education beyond high school, offer part time jobs to their teenagers during the summer, and create a sense of security with insurance benefits. The way we look at it, one less thing our employees have to worry about at home is one less worry they bring in the door with them when they come in to work. And it makes our people feel like they’re part of something bigger.”
Haviland Corp. seems poised to continue to carry that something bigger on for many more years. “There has been some disruption in the industry with the rise of consolidation and segmentation,” said Andrews. “But while that can be frustrating for some, I also think it is a positive for the industry as a whole. The competition brings in some new energy and life into product development that really benefits all of us.”
For her mother, the future of Haviland Corp. is something even more personal and closer to home. “Watching my daughter develop further within the company has been its own reward,” said Haviland. “Seeing her blossom as the company continues to grow tells me we’re going to be in good hands for the next few decades.”