Up and down the line at Grand River Rubber & Plastics Co., employees echo one theme when discussing Richard D. Selip and Joseph A. Misinec: both have a unique, caring and creative management style.
For decades, Selip, the firm's president, and Misinec, its executive vice president, have been successful entrepreneurs and hands-on, dedicated, innovative leaders, employees said, adding that they've kept the business in the black during the most difficult times, relying mostly on organic growth, new products, upgraded offerings and a creative work force to forge new paths to success.
That held true for the manufacturer of flat drive belts, cut washers and tubular gaskets again in 2014. Sales for the year should close out at about $47 million, up about 7 percent from 2013.
There have been many firsts in their lives at Ashtabula, Ohio-based Grand River. The latest is being named Co-Executives of the Year by Rubber & Plastics News for 2014, principally for their consistent leadership in guiding Grand River from a speck on the rubber industry radar screen decades ago to the highly successful business it is today.
It's the first time two top executives have received the top honor since the award's inception in 1989. And Selip joined Stanley E. Gault—who won first at Rubbermaid and then at Goodyear—as the only two-time winner of the award. Selip previously was Executive of the Year in 1997.
Misinec, 71, and Selip, 65, plan to retire in March. In early 2011, they sold the business to their employees in an employee stock ownership plan—or ESOP—and financed the deal. They remained on board in their present positions at the employees' request to help guide the company.
They have a unique philosophy. “We've never made decisions based on the bottom line,” Selip said in a recent interview. “It distorts everything. It's just the opposite. You make decisions based on everything else in life. That's where the bottom line comes from. Some companies don't succeed because they don't take a long-term view.”
“Ric and Joe have been the driving forces of innovation at Grand River,” said Kristin Marchewka, accounting and IT services supervisor and an employee at the company since she graduated from college in 1996. “I believe they complement each other very well. Their management styles exude both honesty and confidence.”
Both have demonstrated genuine care and concern for the company's employees, and “decisions made over the years of being privately held were not solely made for their benefit but for the long-term benefit of the employees,” Senior Vice President Donny Chaplin said.
They don't make corporate decisions and walk away, nor do they manage from afar, he said, adding that “this mentality shows the employees that Ric and Joe are working with them side by side.”