PIQUA, Ohio—Fifty years is a long time to stay at any one company, but Daniel French hasn't worked just anywhere.
As CEO, French now has been with the family-owned French Oil Mill Machinery Co. in Piqua for a half century, working his way up from the shop floor.
And while the 77-year-old continues to lead the company that makes machinery for the rubber industry, he does allow that the family's third generation of leadership soon will give way to a fourth.
French Oil was started 121 years ago by the CEO's grandfather, Alfred French Sr. And you guessed it, the original business made machinery to extract vegetable oil from seeds and nuts.
An expansion into rubber-related machinery came in the 1950s and 1960s with the growing popularity of synthetic rubber. These days, the rubber business represents the majority of business for French Oil Mill Machinery.
Rubber mixers, screw presses and hydraulic presses all are key products made in Piqua for the rubber industry.
While French has spent most of his adult life at the family company, that was not always a given.
As a teen, he spent summers doing what teens often do while working in the family business, dipping his toes into the water. But after college graduation, French decided to take a different path, enlisting in the U.S. Air Force, where he spent five years, including time in Vietnam. That experience, he said, taught him lessons he never would have been able to learn in Piqua. These experiences inform him to this day.