Founder: Charles Robert Samples.
Number of employees: 96-plus and growing.
Key family members active in the company: Neatzie Samples, member, board of directors; Mac Wilborn, vice president, new business development; Tim Samples, CEO; Debbie Samples-Coffee, manager, administrative services, industry reference materials; Susie Adaska, research librarian; Dusty Samples, assistant manager, chemical services department; Toby Samples, research engineer; Marchelle Simms, administrative assistant; Greg Simms, director of innovation and sustainability; Jenni Isom, research librarian assistant; Katie Kelley, research librarian assistant; Nick Wilborn, compound mixing lab technician.
What it does: ARDL provides independent testing, development and problem-solving to the rubber, plastics and textile industries. We answer the toughest polymer questions, whether physical, chemical, optical or process-related.
Markets served: ARDL serves anyone who touches polymers, i.e. end users, manufacturers, researchers and developers, litigators and quality investigators.
Number of generations involved in the business: Four.
What are the strengths of a family owned business? We enjoy a strong sense of loyalty to each other and to the organization. We are naturally held to a very high standard of ethical behavior. And we have a shared compassion for employees, customers and their problems.
What are the challenges of a family owned business? We minimize conflict by appointing one leader, with the understanding that our leader keeps us informed through weekly meetings and seeks the input of the rest of the family when making more impactful decisions. We work closely with our CPA and our attorney on matters such as financing and succession planning. We are very fortunate in that the family members involved in ARDL are generally amiable.
How are issues resolved involving non-family members in executive roles? (Non-family members) have been with us for many years and understand the dynamics of a family business and fully support us. We think of them and all of our employees as extended family members.
How does the younger generation influence decisions? The younger generation of family members brings new thoughts, experiences and ideas to the table and helps the older generation keep up with the times. The older generation provides the calming stability of experience. Together, we are able to sustain and grow the business.
Something you may not know about the company: Our founder fired his own mother at one point.
What advice would you offer a young entrepreneur who wants to start a family run business?
If your business is your passion, you will love it and you will succeed. In doing so, you will leave a tremendous and lasting gift to your family. Make sure to leverage the parts you love, your talents and gifts, with a solid administrative and organizational backbone, so you will always continue to love your business. Ask your employees if they are enjoying their work. If they aren't, either think of a way to help them enjoy it, or, if that isn't possible, lovingly encourage them to find other work they will truly enjoy, to find their passion.
And one more thing: Our family strives to surround itself with the best and most inquisitive people, whether they are within the organization or support it from the outside. We are fortunate to get along pretty well, and we love each other very much. We also love our much larger and growing extended ARDL family.