KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—French Oil Machinery Co. has been run by a member of the French family since its founding in 1900.
For Tayte French-Lutz, named a vice president of the Piqua, Ohio-based machinery maker in June and daughter of current Chairman and CEO Daniel French, the succession plan is in place for her to become the fourth generation of the clan to lead the firm.
Of course, when she entered the work world out of college in 2002, French-Lutz never would have envisioned walking in the same shoes as her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather and great-grandmother.
She had a different path in mind, and it didn't include heading an industrial machinery company that designs, makes and supports hydraulic press systems for molding rubber and composite materials, rubber mixers, de-watering and drying presses for synthetic rubber production and oilseed processing equipment.
In her previous life, she lived in New York City, starting out with Bloomingdale's in their buyer training program. She was working toward becoming an assistant buyer, making decisions about the clothing selection that goes into department stores.
"They had stores all over the country, so it was important to know that a tube top will sell better in Miami, and a leather jacket will sell better in New York City," she told Rubber News at the ACS Rubber Division's International Elastomer Conference in Knoxville. "I lived in Manhattan right out of college. In my early 20s, it was fabulous."
And as Daniel French always told them: "If you're good enough, we'll hire you back."