In recent years, Doug Johnson has turned the company's day-to-day business decisions over to the next generation, and he has let those managers heavily influence the firm's future plans and investments, according to Andrew Johnson.
He said if the younger generation of managers want to continue to build the business and put it on the proper path for the future, “they must be given and take an active role in company decisions,” especially when it comes to looking for new revenue streams, developing new competitive advantages and planning around future technology.
Today's technology is extremely important to the second generation at O-ring Sales & Service. “Even though the first generation (Doug) doesn't understand all of today's technology, he has embraced it and championed the second generation's efforts to develop custom tech solutions for our family company,” Andrew Johnson noted.
It is now as much a technology company as it is an industrial distributor, he said. “We write computer code and develop custom software and hardware solutions for our company. We started by developing custom inside office processes and reporting, allowing us to operate the entire company in a paperless environment.”
After that, the firm automated several shipping processes, including integrating its UPS WorldShip system with its distribution software. The company then created software to automate custom shipping documents, and finally it invented a database capable counting scale that is intertwined with its distribution software. That has allowed it to boost sales without expanding its infrastructure, keeping overhead low.
“We just recently filed a patent on a new wireless vendor machine inventory system we invented in-house,” Andrew Johnson said.
While it only employs 19, because of its new technology it was able to ship about $7.2 million in seals during 2015 comprised of 25,000 individual pick ticket line items with only three warehouse employees, a receiving clerk and two shippers.
Equally important, a succession plan is in place at O-ring Sales & Service, ultimately passing the company from its founders, Doug and Judy Johnson, on to the next generation: Andrew and Suzanne Johnson, Adam and Amy O'Hara, Jay and Jessica, and Evan and Julie Clark. Andrew, Adam and Jay currently work full time for the company.
Doug Johnson admits “there has never been any effort to keep the business out of the home or the home out of the business. In a small business, it all bleeds together. When the family is all together in a home setting, the business is usually one of the chief topics ... and we enjoy it.”
The same holds true at the office, he said, where “we have a bouncy house for the kids and battery powered cars in the warehouse.” At the end of each month, the company makes an effort to bring the entire family unit together for dinner, “where we all share a meal and discuss current business topics,” he said.