AKRON—As a young boy, Michael Hochschwender remembers his father teaching him how to tie his shoes while he sat on a step in his dad's office.
Nearly 50 years later, Hochschwender continues to tackle new challenges as well as look for other opportunities from an office within that same company.
As president and CEO of the Smithers Group Inc., where his father, Herman, once served in a similar position, Hochschwender has overseen a flurry of diversification over the last 13 years. The company, celebrating its 90th year in business this year, has transformed into a global entity with a highly educated work force that caters more to the tire industry than ever before. Through several acquisitions, Smithers has six business groups and facilities in England, Japan and China.
“The global tire companies were always our clients,” Hochschwender said of the company, founded in 1925 as Smithers Laboratories. It eventually merged with Hochschwender & Associates Inc. in 1972 to create Smithers Scientific Services.
“(Before the diversification), we did not have facilities in Europe. We didn't have a facility in China. So we served our global client base strictly from America. Today we clearly serve our clients from facilities on three continents: From Europe, from North America and from China.”
The Smithers Group remains a global testing, consulting and information service company that is committed to its customers, Hochschwender said.
“We believe it's our job to support our clients in their success, not so much to brandish our success,” he said. “We truly value the success of our clients. It's what we're all about. We don't want to take the focus off of that. It's not what we're going to do.”