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Last Update: Tuesday June 19, 2018

Key Idea: Pass Leadership On

Lowell Miles started his firm and now his daughter Lori is growing it.

Key Question:

A: 

Give them opportunity to learn knowing that you can only take your company so far.  You need to find fresh talent and energy so that your business will grow without you.  The key to turning the leadership job over to the next generation is trust.  The inability to place trust in another person is probably the biggest reason entrepreneurs fail to put a leadership succession plan in place.

Most companies die with their founder or they die when the founder decides to quit working. Some would throw these types of companies into a category called "lifestyle companies." In other words, the company was a vehicle for the founder to live a certain kind of life. We disagree.

Most small businesses would-could-and-should have a life separate and apart from the founder. If the founder would first learn to trust, it opens the way so the founder could find people in which to place that trust. And the business, with all its customers, suppliers, and employees, should continue to perfect relations, systems, and their contributions to their community and world.

Q: What prepared Lori for leadership?

A: She came to work for her dad to earn her college tuition and was surprised that she loved working at Miles Fiberglass. 

Think about it

Who do you have on your team now who could take over the business if you decided to move on to your next idea? What keeps you from passing the torch? Do you have someone you are training that can move into your place soon? Are you nervous that if you pass the torch, you won't have anything to do? Do you think your life might feel empty if you don't have to be in the office everyday? Should you hire some college students or create an intern program to find talent?

Clip from: Miles Fiberglass

Portland, Oregon:  New materials can stimulate the imagination.  In 1956, fiberglass had such an impact on Lowell Miles.  Fiberglass is a composite and today, there are thousands of composites that are literally revolutionizing construction of every kind.

Meet Lowell Miles and his daughter, Lori Luchak, and see what the imagination can do and how a family enterprise has emerged. 

With over 50 employees, they are making products that will keep the environment cleaner and other products that will make our military safer.

What an extraordinary future they have!

Miles Fiberglass & Composites

Lowell Miles, CEO / founder

8855 S.E. Otty Road
Portland, OR 97266
503 775 7755

Visit our web site: http://www.milesfiberglass.com

Office: 503 775 7755

Business Classification:
Manufacturing

Year Founded: 1963

Pass Leadership On

HATTIE:(Voiceover) Meet Lowell Miles.  He is founder of Miles Fiberglass and Composites in Portland where he has 50 employees.

LOWELL: In 1956 I went to a boat show in Portland here and they had one fiberglass boat in the boat show all the rest were made of wood and I looked at the material and thought it was really fascinating material and that there was a lot of potential there.  A lot more things than boats could be built from it and that got me interested.  

HATTIE:(Voiceover)  Today Lowell’s daughter Lori Luchak is President of the company.

LORI: What we do here is we make composite products for other companies. Component parts for other companies out of fiberglass or other types of composites.  We also make our own products such as the environ lube for truck stops and we also are inventing and creating Humvee reinforcement panels for the military.  

LOWELL: We’ve had some ups and downs over the years like a  lot of people who start out in their own business do. In the 1970s when the gas crunch hit we were building a lot of RV component parts and that business died for 8-9 months so we were scrambling at that time just to stay in business.  Then when the spa business went sour we were scrambling because we had a lot invested.  You always seem to come back and do bigger and better when things are tough like that.  

LORI: So we’ll find a problem and we’ll come up with a solution.  We have a great team here. A great design team.   

We have a lot of employees who have been here 10 years and more.  A lot have been 15 and even 20 years.  I contribute that to we’re a family business and we try to create an atmosphere of family. We do a lot of training.  I feel like as long as people are learning they want to come to work.  

It ups the quality and makes us more substantial.  I think that we can rely on our products more because our employees know more and we try and give them a birds eye view of the whole company not just the little part that they work in. They are not just doing part of the product day after day they understand what the whole product looks like at the end.

LOWELL: It’s a little hard to let go but you have to think about that and realize that you can’t always be here and I won’t be.  

LORI:   In the beginning I didn’t think I would stay.  I was working here so I could get my way through college and I fell in love with it and I think it may have been my Dad’s plan the whole time.  

LOWELL:  So you have to start working on that pretty hard and make sure you’re not stepping on people’s toes that  need the freedom to go ahead and do things their own way.
 
LORI:  But it was like I just loved it and I never thought I would love working in a fiberglass company and I always thought it was a man’s world but I really get excited about coming to work every day.

LOWELL: I think we’re just getting started frankly.  There are some great things coming along for us and some opportunities that we haven’t had before.  

LORI: I think that we’re very excited about being innovative. It’s a real craft for people to get into it’s not just a boring job.    These guys come to work every day and  invent and make things and we have a blast doing it.

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