Sunday, August 1, 2004

Family-owned firms show us how it's done

The Daily Grind

John Eckberg
Some companies have all the luck. Others create it.

Four family-owned companies have grabbed top honors, winning an annual University of Cincinnati Goering Center Tri-State Business of the Year Award.

Rumpke Consolidated Co. took the top prize as Company of the Year among companies with more than 100 employees.

This family-owned waste-management company is run by aunts and uncles as well as nephews, nieces, cousins and all relations in between.

For the Hundreds of thousands of Greater Cincinnatians count on Rumpke to pick up refuse each week.

The Flottman Co., a Crestview Hills firm that specializes in printing and folding services for the pharmaceuticals industry, was founded in 1921 and is in its third generation of family ownership.

The firm received the Goering Center honor for best company in the region with fewer than 100 employees.

Sue Flottman Steller, president of the company and in charge of sales and marketing, said the firm has worked on succession planning to bring future generations of Flottmans into leadership roles. Flottman also embraces technology.

"We've never been afraid to look at what's new, what's changing, and to move forward with it," she said. Evidence of that strategy is $250,000 spent recently on a computer-to-plate printing technology and a $2.5 million six-color press.

The third Goering Center award went to Modern Office Methods, a Blue Ash family-owned firm that employs 140 and is in its 46th year. Modern Office Methods was honored for its innovative approach to business practices.

The bigger picture

A fourth award went to Aveda Fredric's Corp. of Fairfield for its community service.

While the three other honors are certainly significant, the community service award has to be the first among equals.

Why? Because companies do not have to consider the greater good. In fact, it's probably better for the bottom line if a firm doesn't ponder the plight of those who are less fortunate.

About 250 family-owned firms competed for this designation. While those firms doubtless had worthy programs, it's tough to top Aveda Fredric:

• Project Daymaker, a mobile salon created from a Winnebago recreational vehicle, visits social-service agencies throughout the region and offers free haircuts and massages.

Frederic Holzberger, founder of Fredric's Corp., recognized nearly a decade ago that his company could do more to help the needy with free cuts to boost self-confidence and self-esteem.

His children, Nikki and Daniel, have taken their father's spirit to heart and continue to donate time aboard Project Daymaker.

• Two Habitat for Humanity houses were built entirely with donations from Holzberger - licensed cosmetologists, estheticians and students were volunteers, and a third is on the way. More than $150,000 will be spent on Habitat Housing by 2005.

• The company also has given support to Pyramid Hill Art Fair, University of Cincinnati College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning, Buckett Boyz, Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts, Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy and the annual Independence Day fireworks for Fairfield called Red, White & Kaboom.

No company has to build houses for people who are less fortunate, create a mobile salon to bring self-esteem and self-confidence to those who need it most, offer grants and scholarships to ensure a future awaits some dedicated student.

But it's nice to know that some do.

The banquet is Aug. 24 at Music Hall at 6 p.m.

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