Supply Chain Now Episode 501
Manufacturing, farming and mining are the only three areas on the planet that actually create new money.”
– Jeff Picken, CEO of Beaumont Products
It can be tough to be part of a family business, but one of the most challenging dynamics these companies deal with is the notion of ‘unconditional love.’ And while those feelings may persist outside the four walls of the operation, every member of the team – family or otherwise – has to earn their keep every single day, and year over year.
Hank Picken and Jeff Picken are the father-son team leading Beaumont Products, a leading manufacturer of premium, eco-friendly consumer products designed for air care, general cleaning and personal care. If there was a business to be in during the pandemic, it was the cleaning supplies business. Fortunately, the Beaumont Products team was operationally ready to seize the opportunity for growth.
In this episode, Hank and Jeff tell Supply Chain Now Host Scott Luton:
· What it is really like to be a family member working in a family-owned business
· How corporate culture is as much about the relationships between employees and teams as it is what they are able to achieve together
· The advantages available to the few CPG companies who are also wise enough to manufacture their own products and keep their supply chain under control
It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world. Supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things. Supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.
Scott Luton (00:28):
Hey, good morning, Scott Luton here with you here on supply chain. Now. Welcome to today’s show today’s show. We’re continuing our today in manufacturing series in partnership with the Georgia manufacturing Alliance. This series is brought to you by HLB gross Collins, a top 25 Atlanta CPA firm, specializing in manufacturing, logistics, and supply chain operations. Hey, stay tuned. As we worked hard to increase your manufacturing, leadership IQ, quick programming note, you don’t want miss conversations like this and find, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. All right, with no further ado. I want to welcome in our guests, our hosts, special cohost and our guests here today on supply chain. Now leading off Jason Moss, CEO of the Georgia manufacturing Alliance. Jason. Good morning. Good morning, Scott, and glad to be here. Hope you are well looking forward to these great conversations and I think we’ve got another great one teed up here today.
Scott Luton (01:19):
Now, Jason, we couldn’t do it without the one and only Laura Matta, juicy principal and leader of the manufacturing, distribution and supply chain practice at HLB gross Collins. Laura, how are you doing? I’m doing great, Scott. Thanks so much for having us this morning. And I can’t wait to dive into our conversation today. Um, I, with Jeff Nang agreed and you’re letting the cat out of the bag. We’ve got to go. I’m sorry. I’m too excited. Sorry. No, the worst thing to do, but we’ve got to do have a great story teed up today. A story based here in Georgia and, and uh, um, I think something we’re all gonna learn a lot about leadership, about manufacturing and about successful business growth. So on that note, let’s welcome in Hank pickin chairman of Beaumont products. Hey, good morning, Lauren. Great to see ya. And you’re joined by Jeff Picken CEO at Beaumont products.
Scott Luton (02:09):
Good morning, Jeff. Good morning, Scott. Thank you for having us. You bet. All right, so we’ve got a great conversation teed up. There’s a lot to tackle in and of itself as it relates to Beaumont products. But for starters, let’s get to know both of y’all a little bit better. So Hank, let’s start with you. W where did you grow up and give us an anecdote or two about your upbringing? Dirty little secret. I I’m a native new Yorker really born in born and raised about, uh, 20 miles away from the empire state building youth was spent, uh, in and around New York city. I was born back in the Eisenhower era, grew up in the Eisenhower era and, uh, that was a very different environment to grow up in. And of course, as I progressed through, uh, uh, uh, high school and on into college, we were as
Hank Picken (03:00):
A generation faced with a terrible thing called the draft. And, uh, in, in, in my day, one went to college, one stayed in college or one got drafted. So there wasn’t any of this stuff about them taking a year off and wandering through the, uh, the mountains in Europe to find oneself. One stayed in school to avoid, uh, uncle Sam. Part of that was, uh, during my college days, um, uh, my school offered an ROTC program and, uh, given the alternative of risking the draft at a point in time, or, uh, going in as an officer, I upped to, um, uh, sign up for the ROTC program and, um, and ended up, um, being commissioned upon graduation from college. And then, uh, went on to graduate school, got a master’s degree in business administration during that time, my time and grade in the military accrued.
Hank Picken (04:02):
So I went in the service, uh, called and the active duty September of 65, right after graduation from business school. And, um, ended up, um, in Fort Benning, Georgia at the infantry school, and then Fort Riley, Kansas, and watched the first infantry division, uh, head off to Vietnam. I stayed in Fort Riley for a period of time. And then I ended up going over to Vietnam in the ninth infantry division and serve for nine months in basically 66 and 67. So a defining, defining moment of my, um, my career. Um, the good, the good news is I spent the two years in graduate school before going in the service. And, um, that, that certainly helped, um, my, my MOS and my training, although I was an infantry officer, um, I was able to, um, use some of my managerial skills and leadership skills that I had learned in business school.
Scott Luton (05:11):
I appreciate you sharing all of that. It’s helpful to put that perspective on, because a lot of folks haven’t, haven’t had to endure that right, and be thrusted into a really tough conflict, tough time. When you think about the folks you serve with one follow up question, before we get over to Jeff, if you can point to one that really impacted how you shaped your worldview, shaped your view about leadership, or, or you know, how to lead your life. What was one really big lesson learned from your time in Vietnam?
Hank Picken (05:38):
I would say, um, the couple of, couple of individuals, but first on the list would be the commanding general of the ninth infantry division. His name was George S Eckhart and, um, Eckhart made all of his staff wear a little pin initials. I can’t remember the exact, the initials, but the phrase itself that was memorialized in that pin was your troops do best what you inspect most. And I, I think there is a tremendous meaning behind that, not just in the military, but in, in, in managing and leading a business. And I think that has led me in, in, in many ways to, to make sure that things that we we look at on a regular basis are in shape. I think the term in, in, in business is very much management by walking around one of the joys of managing and leading a Beaumont products is the plant is right here.
Hank Picken (06:41):
You don’t have to go through layers and layers and conversation and buffers to have a communication with a plan. If you want to know what’s going on, you get up from your desk and walking, walk next door and wander through the plant. I think the same thing is true in managing a sales department and actually getting out in the field and, and working with customers and working with salespeople. And I, I do think the focus on your troops do best what you inspect most and inspect as, as a different meaning in the military, obviously, but certainly, uh, checking and confirming. I can trust the verify, but you, the term,
Scott Luton (07:18):
I love it. I’ve already placed an order for a thousand pins. I’m going to steal that from you blatantly. I appreciate that.
Hank Picken (07:26):
They’re pretty rusty by now. That was 50, 55 years ago, but
Scott Luton (07:31):
Well thank you for sharing and really appreciate your service and your combat service and great to have you here with us today. Okay. Want to switch over to Jeff? Picon Jeff, good morning. You know, same questions, you know, fascinating story. We would love one of my favorite parts of this. Uh, Jason, Laura is here in kind of the story behind the story, right? What leads to the success or y’all been experienced in that Beaumont products, especially about the people and the leader. So Jeff, give us a little background. Where are you from and give us an anecdote or two about your, your journey.
Jeff Picken (08:01):
Yeah, so also guilty of being born in New York, um, schooling in New York, uh, up until high school with a short stint in Italy, we, uh, Hank was working for Colgate Palmolive. We got stationed over in Rome, Italy. So I got to do three years of schooling and the American oversee school of room, which was a, obviously a huge impact on, uh, on an eight year old guy. Um, being over there, coming back. Another startling moment was going from, uh, schooling in New York to starting high school at Georgia at, uh, at North Cobb. And that was a bit of a culture shift. I had, I had no idea what a Leonard Skinner or Dale Earnhardt was. So I had to learn real fast. Um, but I, I learned to love it and I would never go back. And then after two years at North Cobb, they opened up a new high school in Cobb County called Harrison, Carl Harrison high school, and, uh, decided to move over there as the first class. So I was actually the first person ever accepted to college from Carl Harrison
Jeff Picken (08:56):
High school. Uh, and I went and was going to Georgia tech, uh, did Georgia tech and all that tech did the co-op program. And co-op, um, with a company called M and M Mars out in Waco, Texas. And I got to do industrial engineering out there helping out making Skittles and Starburst. So that’s a, a quick recap of my formative years. Okay. So I’m going to though Jason and Laura curveball, because Hank and Jeff had shared a lot already. What, what’s your favorite key takeaway before we dive into a little deeper in their professional journey and, uh, Laura, let’s start with you.
Laura Madajewski (09:28):
Let’s see. Well, you know, I, I do have a slight chance of knowing Jeff and Hank beforehand. So I have to say, you know, I’m a little proud of those Northern roots as well as, uh, our, our Southern points here, but, you know, um, I think overall it was great to hear, um, both of them share about their experiences. And I have to say that one of my favorite candies is, is the ones that, uh, Jeff mentioned that he was involved in the process of making. So I’ll be giving those out for Halloween this year.
Jason Moss (09:56):
All right. Thank you, Laura. All right, Jason, what about you? Well, I think people will be very surprised to find out that I’ll also inform New York, but well, maybe not, that would shock our audience. I don’t know that I can pull it out but day. Uh, Hank. I really appreciate you sharing your experience there in the military. Scott and I are both veterans and, and, um, I, I too, I’m taking that away, but I think I’m on like a t-shirt out of it that you, your troops do best what you inspect the most. So you can count on that. That’s really good stuff. And it helps us really redefine and refocus what we as leaders need to be doing in our community and, and, and, um, and what our people need to expect from us. I think that’s another piece of it. Um, but I didn’t want to pitch a question over to you. Hank, what would you say was one of your, uh, Eureka moments? What is something that really just stands out for you in business and then leadership put some of the things we need to that? What else can we be taken away from?
Hank Picken (10:50):
I think, um, the, the big Eureka moment of my career, it goes back to getting out of the service. When I, I graduated, as I mentioned before, with a master’s degree in business administration and to make matters even worse, it was from an Ivy league school that was the Amos tuck school, Dartmouth college Hanover, New Hampshire. So, um, I’m a double whammy Yankee. So, uh, I had majored in marketing and, uh, had every intention of becoming a product manager and, uh, working my way up the, the route to management through, um, uh, marketing channels. And, uh, in those days after I got out of the service, went through the interviewing process and talk to, um, the big sobers and the big food companies in those days, uh, general foods, as an example, was a standalone, uh, company. And, uh, I came very close to going to work for, um, general foods, went through series of interviews and all of a sudden the moment was I couldn’t find anybody in a marketing position at general foods over the age of 40.
Hank Picken (12:00):
I thought to myself, you know, what do older, uh, product managers do the rest of their lives? And as a result, I said, I’m going to take a little bit longer, look at this. And, um, decided to go to work in a public accounting firm, went to work for Pricewaterhouse and worked for them for two and a half, almost, almost three years long enough to go to night school and get the required classes of courses for my CPA exam, sat for my exam and basically got my notification from the state of New York. The past exam walked into my boss’s office resigned and, um, started my career in, um, in product management at lever.
Scott Luton (12:45):
Hey, if I can interject just for a second, I’m always curious about when folks spend time early in their career at a, at a great firm, like a PWC that it exposed to a variety of industries and sectors and business models that, that helped you later in your career.
Hank Picken (13:00):
Absolutely. I mean, uh, the, the, the other little piece of that story, and, uh, I’ll, I’ll finish it and then come back because I think it will help address that is in my infinite wisdom. I said, okay, now I’ve got my CPA. I’ll just go and find myself a marketing job. And because I have that financial background, um, I will be on a fast track management, and it was incredible the number of companies that turned me down for, uh, interviewing for a product management position, because by definition, an accountant was not creative enough to be a product manager and, and ran into that on several different occasions. And then of course, as truth be known, uh, arrived on scene as a lowly assistant product manager and was given keeps, uh, paperwork and analytical stuff to do. And here’s your brand P and L and all that stuff.
Hank Picken (13:52):
And we’re, we’re guys sitting, sitting around, um, struggling with the numbers. Um, I was able to blow through them and matter of a matter of minutes. So it, it stood me very well at the time. But in answer to your question, I think the, the beauty of working for a, um, uh, a public accounting firm early is exactly that is the exposure to all kinds of businesses. One of the Eureka moments of that is you realize, um, every, every corporation has some sort of financial toy that, um, they are able to play with. And these huge fortune 500 companies that I was inside of looking at you realize what the toy was and a decision could be made at the end of the quarter that could influence, uh, earnings per share a couple of cents one way or the other since since general foods is, is not in business any longer. I, I think I can tell, tell the story that one of the games they played was when does the sugar truck or sugar barge, uh, come on board into the U S from, um, the Caribbean based on, uh, import tariffs and the amount of sugar that was being imported for the likes of jello and, and, uh, Tang and all the other products that we use so much sugar just determining when that ship was going to come into port or not coming to port get influenced earnings per share 10 years. Wow.
Scott Luton (15:22):
It’s interesting. It all goes back to sugar because the world runs well. I appreciate you setting. I want to circle back on the Eureka question, Hank. I know there there’s a lot more, we could dive into your journey, but let’s bring Jeff in here. So, Jeff, you, you alluded to some of your, your career journey earlier, as we were getting to know you a little better and getting to know you, how you had to adapt a new citizenship as you move from New York to Georgia, Leonard Skinner, and Dale Earnhardt loved that line. Jeff, tell us a little bit more about your, your, what you learned early in your career and some of the roles you had
Hank Picken (15:54):
As far as Eureka moments. I was really fortunate to have one even before starting on a career. I was in the summertimes in high school. I would actually work in a plant here at Beaumont filling bottles and working with, uh, with our men and women who are producing product every day, really had a good time with them. And then later on, I actually went back to New York for a family, a family get together, probably around Thanksgiving and was talking to one of my older cousins. We were walking across our town of Bronxville, which is about a mile mile wide. So we were walking from one parent’s house to the other, and he was at UMass studying mechanical engineering. And I was, uh, you know, in high school, not knowing what I wanted to do. And I was explaining to him how I liked working in the plant and how I would look at what we were doing and figure out ways to make the machines run better, or to be able to do this with less people or do that.
Hank Picken (16:45):
And he goes, that’s industrial engineering. That’s what you need to do. And I said, Hey, wow, that’s great. And, um, I knew right away while still in high school, before even applying to Georgia tech, that I wanted to be an industrial engineer, which I think, you know, if all of us could spend time and find just one young person and help them, uh, understand, you know, when you’re in high school, you don’t know what all these professions are. And if you could just find one person, help them find out what their passion is and tell them what that is. As far as the profession, I think it would be a huge help to all young people out there to find out what they like before they go off.
Scott Luton (17:20):
Well said, Jeff, uh, I can tell you just from my experience, I never set foot in a manufacturing plant until after college. And that opened up my eyes and my granddad retired from Kimberly-Clark as a machine operator in his second career. And it’s the same that I didn’t get a chance to sit down and, and talk many factoring with granddad, and that’s such a missed opportunity. So I really appreciate you sharing that. Jeff, Jason, Laura, before we dive fuller into Beaumont Beaumont products, I’m sure what Jeff and Hank have
Jeff Picken (17:50):
Shared resonates with you. Jason Key takeaway. Yeah. I tell you, um, you know, talking about Eureka moments when I was in the first grade elementary school, they took a group of us to the Ford factory in Haynesville. And I walked through that factory and they were rolling in steel and rolling out cars, and I was fascinated and that fascination has never ended. I mean, I love being, being able to hang around really smart people that are coming up with amazing solutions to tough problems that in a million years, I would have never figured out. Right. I mean, I just love the industry and see people that make things. I mean, those are some of the pieces, that’s the thing I’m so excited about in the manufacturing space and encouraging more people to come hang out with us, come get involved, come at least learn about what it takes to make things, because, you know, I mean, if you don’t mind it and you don’t grow it, Nelly other way to generate wealth is to manufacture it.
Jeff Picken (18:43):
Right. I mean, you know, it’s manufacturing, farming and mining are only, only three areas on the planet that actually create new money, create things. So, so I think that that all of us pull them together. And that’s one of the things I love most about supply chain that radios is making sure that we tell the story and we get people engaged that otherwise might not understand the impact of manufacturing in our economy. So, you know, again, hats off to you guys, what you guys do every day. And, and I think we just need to keep banging that drum well, put bang it, like who’s the drummer in the Beatles. I can’t remember his name right off, but yeah, begging, Hey, Jeff, we’re going to keep playing on your music thing and started once you laid out Leonard Skinner and make it a lot more of that in today’s show. Alright. So Laura, give us your key takeaway from what Hank and Jeff had been sharing about your Eureka moments and then let’s move right into learn a lot more about Beaumont product.
Laura Madajewski (19:35):
Absolutely. Well, I think what I picked up from, from their conversations, what they just shared was, um, first of all, I, you know, it’s near and dear to my heart for what Hank had to share from the public accounting side, you know, and that exposure from that side. But I, I see where people continue to be successful in their careers, regardless of whether they stay in what I’m doing and what Hank has gone on to, to grow and develop, um, is that you’ve got to focus on, uh, you know, understanding all the aspects of it. You know, you want to understand the financial piece to understand how to make that piece and then how to make it to be successful. So I think those components together as huge, and the people that get that, um, from, from those different avenues, they understand the hands-on and then the other components that are going to make happen that that puzzle piece together there is, is big.
Laura Madajewski (20:24):
And then touching on what Jeff had to say about, um, getting to understand what it was that he was really how to define what it was that was, he was passionate about what he wanted to go after in school. Um, I, you know, I think that’s phenomenal because there’s so many, um, young people, this next generation that are out there and we continue to try to get them aware of the, uh, awesome opportunities in the things they can do out there, the ideas, all of that stuff that, that just pings with them, that we are kind of, you know, I don’t, I don’t want to call it us like old set in our ways, but you know, we’re at that point now where we’re, we’re continuing to absorb at our level, but what they have to bring to the table. I mean, just barn on it’s fantastic. And it really kind of blows you out of the water on what they can do to bring innovation and ideas, to continue to grow the business. You want things to continue to succeed. You want to see that, that path down the line there. So I think what they both had to share was it was really just touching home there on those points. Well put, so now we get the chance to dive into the story
Hank Picken (21:27):
That is Beaumont product. So Laura take it
Laura Madajewski (21:29):
Away. Well, um, I’d like to kick this off with you, Hank. Uh, can you tell us a little bit more about Beaumont products, just how it was created, what the company does there. Um, and then, um, I’d love to also then kick over as well to Jeff to add any insights and share what your roles are. What is it you’re doing day to day to continue to bring the Beaumont product name out to your customers
Hank Picken (21:52):
We’re working backwards. I think you’d probably get a different answer from me than you will from Jeff. We’ll start at the beginning. Um, I had come down to, uh, Atlanta in the late, late eighties to take, uh, take over an ill-fated leveraged buyout. And, uh, that, that company was in the specialty chemical business here in, uh, in Marietta. It became painfully obvious that that was not going to be a good longterm, uh, career move for me because as I mentioned, it was an ill-fated leveraged buyout, and anyone who has not had that kind of experience realizes that when you wake up one day and reporting to a bank, as opposed to being reporting to a, uh, a normal board of directors, um, it’s an unusual business situation where you do not get on the same page at all as to what is what’s required to turn the business around.
Hank Picken (22:52):
So it became painfully obvious that I was going to leave and, um, in doing so, I did what I had called my career creative shopping, and I was going around to different retailers and looking at products on the shelves to see if there was something there that local manufacturer or whatever that might be interested in. Uh, I’m a marketing guy and, uh, ended up picking up this product on the shelf in a hardware store, a true value store here in Kennesaw called citrus magic and, uh, looked at the bottle and I turned it over and it said manufactured in Peachtree city, Georgia, um, PRH company. And, um, when went through a series of phone calls and got this guy on the phone, his name was Paul are hurting son and PRH. And, um, I talked to Paul and he said, funniest thing just last night, I was talking to my wife about selling the business who knows, who knows how truthful that was, but that began a, uh, uh, a dialogue that took place over a three or four month period of time.
Hank Picken (24:03):
And we ended up, uh, acquiring the business in may of 91. It’s sneaking up on our 30th anniversary. And it, there was some uniqueness in there and a good marriage to my personal background being consumer packaged goods and that being a consumer packaged good. And plus the fact coming out of the specialty chemical business, I had some idea of the packaging and the chemistry involved, although I’m not a chemist, but I thought it would be interesting. I don’t know whether you guys have ever, ever seen this or not, but, um, the container itself is a non aerosol container and 30 years ago, and aerosols were a dirty word. And, um, and I think in many, many ways still are. So we were able to, um, marry a concept that was, uh, tight in the consumer products business, but also very timely from a natural presentation.
Hank Picken (25:03):
Not only was the ingredients a hundred percent naturally, but the package and the delivery was a non aerosol system. This is a standard aerosol can, and this is what we call a bag on bow. And what we do is we fill this can twice, this, this is a Mylar bag. That’s fused the STEM of the aerosol Val, and it’s placed inside this container. It goes into the first station and compressed air, ambient air, not gas or anything in the store, but Andy and air is forced into the Canon. Then this cap comes down and is print, and we actually inject the fluid through the dip tube. And what happens is that bag that’s attached to the Val inflates, increasing the Ambien pressure inside the camp. So then when you push the button down, you’re not releasing any gas into the atmosphere, but the pressure inside the can is squeezing the bag and the juice is coming out.
Hank Picken (26:07):
So what’s coming out is a hundred percent pure citrus oil. And that is, uh, an absolute, not only does it smell great, but it destroys odors on contact. So that’s, that’s the magic of the citrus magic. So around that basic product, which was acquired in, um, in 91, um, we have built, um, what is now Beaumont products? I think we tripping, tripping down memory lane, uh, not too long ago. We were in business for about four or five years before we were, we were clicking in and about, uh, a decent median telecom annual rate. We at that in those days, um, had five employees. And, uh, we are now, um, in four buildings here in Kennesaw, 125 employees doing on a, a monthly basis, what we used to do on an annual basis in sales. So it’s been a, it’s been a fun ride. The other part of the equation that I would put together, I know you talked to Jeff in a minute is obviously, um, when I started this company, I felt very, very comfortable in the two key areas.
Hank Picken (27:24):
And that is, um, sales marketing, as well as finance and accounting, but I had never run a manufacturing facility, um, until I came to Atlanta. So, uh, this was all new news to me and Jeff in his early days. And college days express some interest in getting involved in, uh, in Beaumont longterm. And that was the, the one piece of the equation that was badly missing. And of course the other piece, um, that has come back and helped tremendously in Beaumont’s growth growth is not only, uh, Jeff’s knowledge of, um, manufacturing, but you did not go to tech without being an, an it wizard. Uh, and I, and I got to tell you that I I’m totally gapped from a it standpoint. I learned to program in Fortran with compilers and, and, um, uh, punch cards and the like, but all, all of that is, uh, what Jeff brought to the party. And I think so much of that, um, particularly the it experience and knowledge, uh, has, has really propelled our growth in to what is the professional, uh, retail today. The beginnings of our business was selling them on pod and we were selling, uh, case cases, almost piece goods, um, onesies and twosies to a small drug store or a small hardware store or the like, and, uh, you know, today where we’re shipping truckloads and pallets. Now that’s the big, the big change is time, blah, blah,
Scott Luton (29:03):
Love that. And of course you can’t make that conversion without those gaps or filling those gaps. You’ve identified Hank and gosh, how fortunate to fill in those gaps with a sharp industrial engineer from Georgia tech within the family
Hank Picken (29:18):
That was to have this beam last name. That’s amazing. Yeah.
Scott Luton (29:22):
Well, so Jeff, tell us more about your role at Belmont products, where you saw the role you played, especially in growing from those five employees to now 125 employees, four sites and, and not shipping piece goods, but shipping pallets. Tell us more.
Jeff Picken (29:42):
When I joined Beaumont in 2001, I had just come off a consulting gig, uh, a local consulting firm called Kurt Solomon associates. I joined them out of college and was fortunate enough to be, um, as a young consultant using abused to send around the country. Um, my first stint was back up in the Northeast, I guess they knew I was a native and they stuck me up in the near, near Newark and reared in New Jersey working in a Macy’s furniture, depart, uh, distribution center. So that was, uh, a good time. And then, uh, obviously we were doing a performance, uh, paper performance kind of study is looking at how to make everybody more efficient and then work harder and get paid for it. Then got shipped out to Northern Idaho, uh, working for Coldwater Creek. So another culture shock there about 90 miles away from Spokane was the nearest airport.
Jeff Picken (30:30):
And then, uh, after that, got shipped down to LA, uh, to go work for a duty-free stores coast to coast, yeah. Coast to coast. Um, you put a lot of miles on my, my Maxima. So, uh, but had a fantastic time, learned a lot in a short period of time and was able to bring all that back to Beaumont bowed out of consulting when, uh, internet mobile hit and, uh, early 2000 2001 was offered a gig up in, uh, near Buffalo, New York. And then talk to him, talk to Hank and said, Hey, dad, it’s either you or Buffalo. And it was a pretty easy sell to come back to Kennesaw and start working for Beaumont. And actually as a, an engineer with a whole bunch of logistics experience, uh, I started off working in, uh, indirect marketing to, uh, to our consumers and doing mailings.
Jeff Picken (31:16):
So that was my first taste of marketing, which was interesting, putting an engineer in marketing, let alone an accountant and then marketing. So we kind of had a similar path there and then kind of worked all through the business and regulatory and development, product development. And then eventually, uh, my true calling went out to the plant and started to run the plant eventually came over to, to the corporate side and started learning about more accounting and the marketing and the like, so all of that, it’s interesting working in a family business as a family member. There’s, I think there’s two ways to do it. You can either be the family member and just kind of earn that paycheck. The other way is you have to prove to everybody every day that you deserve to be here, not because of what your last name is, but because of how hard you’re working and you almost have to work twice as hard as anybody else to prove that you are here and belong here.
Jeff Picken (32:06):
So that was the challenge. And, uh, it was a welcome challenge. And I, I feel like, um, everybody recognized that from time to time, I would have people tell me, you know, I don’t envy you having to do this. We all persevere through whatever we’re going through and eventually got to be in a place where I’m running the company. And, you know, so thankful that Hank and, you know, my dad, Hank, it’s hard working for your father. So sometimes I call him, Hey, sometimes he’s, Popsie’s my daughter’s grandfather said a whole bunch of stuff going on, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be here and running the company, him with what he created. And it’s just, uh, as a second generation family business member, kind of shifting the culture from a, a family business to a medium-sized company that is shipping those full trucks and pallet quantities to retailers.
Scott Luton (32:54):
Perfect, perfect segue. It’s like, you know, you know where we’re going next, Jeff. So thank you for that. But real quick, before we get Jason to, uh, talk about culture with you, both congratulations own got 30 years in a manufacturing family run. Now medium-sized business. That is an incredible feat hope you’ll have a huge party planned. Hopefully we can get out in person and celebrate person by then, but, but really kidding aside. Congratulations. What a, what an outstanding story. All right. So Jason, one of our favorite topics is culture, right?
Jeff Picken (33:26):
Yeah. Culture, man. I mean, culture, culture is key and everything we do. And I really appreciate you guys, both sharing sort of your experience and, and having a family run business. And my son helps me here. Um, he had been helping he’s, he’s still in college, he’s in GGC and Lauren he’s taken a five-year plan, but he’s almost on may. He’ll be, he’ll be done with that piece. And it has been, it’s been fascinating for me to see the dynamics. I worked with my dad in construction, but that’s a different deal because you’re out on the job site doing stuff, right. But working in an office environment is a father, son team growing a business. It has been, it has been really interesting to see how that worked. And you touched on it a little bit, Jeff, about the expectation of a, uh, a family member working inside a family business. Um, but what is, what are some of the other things about the culture of Beaumont that we could take away that we can, that we could empower some of the other leaders that are on this call with, what do you see that’s working and maybe one thing that you could, uh, you had and encourage folks to avoid as, as it relates to culture is working for your father. Yeah. Yeah. Other than that
Jeff Picken (34:32):
Culture wise, a Eureka moment I had, uh, later in life was, uh, I’m fortunate to be a member of a young president’s organization. YPO joined them about 10 years ago. And during my stint there, I went to a talk and heard from the CEO of, I think it was sports authority. And he was the first non-family member to be the CEO of that company. And one thing that he said that rang true to me was that, um, he, he scrubbed the word family from the business and he said, you know, he told everybody the reason we’re doing this, we’re going to call ourselves a team and not a family because family has unconditional love. You can never not be a family member, but a team you have to earn your spot every day. And we’ve been trying to instill that here at Beaumont so that everybody understands that you’re not going to be here just because you’ve been here, you have to continue to perform, um, every day, every year, prove yourself.
Jeff Picken (35:23):
So I think that was a huge, but other than that, I mean, our culture here is, um, work hard, play hard. We, we like to sell our products. We’d like to get new distribution. We’d like to get citrus magic up against Glade and Clorox and win at retail. And we do that. Um, but at the same time, we’d like to have fun. We’re very casual environment. I’m wearing shorts right now. And that’s not just because we’re on zoom. That’s my standard outfit every day. My, uh, my friend next in the next office over who works with us, he says, you look like you could go play golf on the drop of a dime. And, and that is true. And if anybody wants to play golf, I will go play at the drop of a dime, uh, yeah, four o’clock every Friday. We, uh, we stopped work and, um, go next door and grab some beers from dry County brewing, which is two doors down and bring it back to the office and hang out with each other, just kinda unwind the week and, uh, see how everybody’s doing and check in. So very, a very non-bureaucratic office environment. And we have, uh, like to say, we have a lot of fun.
Jeff Picken (36:22):
That’s cool. That’s cool. I love it. Jeff. I love that perspective. I, hang on, we’ll toss this over to you. I mean, what, how did you, how did you, um, uh, form this, this culture? What was, what was your, uh, commitment when you launched the organization? I mean, did you ever imagine going from five to 225, I mean 225?
Hank Picken (36:41):
No, not, not five to 125. I can, I can tell you that in the early days there was a lot of, not a survival since, since you and Scott, they’re both, both vets. You’ll, you’ll understand the, the phrase, uh, last, last one through the channel on, I think that was very much a part of the early days. Um, uh, that’s not just the chow line, but it’s also, uh, last one through the, through the pay window. And many, many, a Friday would go by and, uh, my paycheck would sit, uh, in industrial and wait until two or three weeks later until I could cash it because, um, everybody else got, got theirs first. So you, you, you understand the concept of, um, last one through the child line. And I, I think that was, uh, early, early buying binding of the, of the company. The other thing that we did, um, early on, um, is we hired a number of, um, folks from the Tommy Nova center that had had some disability.
Hank Picken (37:44):
And I think there was a, uh, uh, to work in, uh, in the manufacturing, um, area. I think that also helped, uh, develop the culture where people T team members, employees call them what you want, started to care about one another. And I think that was an important piece or a personal standpoint believed very strongly in the golden rule. The good golden, you know, there were two golden rules in business. One is, do, do unto others, which is the, the right golden rule. The other golden rule is he who has the gold rules. And you run into that in, in a lot of, um, relationships, business relationships too. But, but I think the golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated, goes a long, long way in kind of, uh, leadership, um, situation is, um, no matter whether you’re leading somebody in, out there on manufacturing one or leading somebody in the executive team.
Hank Picken (38:50):
Um, so I think that’s part of the culture. The other, other thing we did, I think the second year that we were in business, we shut the business down on a given Tuesday or Thursday afternoon, uh, hired a bus and took all the employees down to, um, the Braves game and had a outing at the Braves game. Of course, the first year we did that, um, I think we, we, we had a couple of station wagons take us down last year before the Corona virus. Uh, we had two buses take, take employees down, um, and that’s a, that’s a good time had by all, everybody has a chance to, um, have a beer and root root for the Braves and, um, and, and talk to one another. So a good bonding opportunity
Scott Luton (39:37):
Love that. And I love that the visual you painted initially it was two station wagons. And then last year it was two buses love, hopefully next year, it’s two, two Amtrak trains. We’ll see
Hank Picken (39:49):
This would be our 30th anniversary. So it’s going to be a, it’s going to be a biggie
Scott Luton (39:53):
That is such a great story and an outstanding accomplishment. All right. So let’s, let’s go broader now that we’ve kind of gotten, uh, appreciate you all sharing about Beaumont products and, and the journey and the growth and, and the challenges and the hurdles and the successes. Let’s, let’s, let’s go broad let’s let’s. Um, when you think of the global manufacturing industry, global supply chain global business, you know, this era that we’re living in this historically challenging year of 2020, what’s one thing, and Jeff, we’ll start with you. What’s one thing when trend news story development, you name it that you’re tracking more than others here lately.
Hank Picken (40:28):
Yeah, it’s been fascinating. Um, not to, um, be too excited about a pandemic. Um, we were in the right place at the right time, uh, when the sprung up and we were fortunate enough to be able to help, um, with the fight against the virus. One of our products that we have that we’ve had for a long time is a, uh, a germicidal cleaner it’s hospital grade under our citrus two banner and early on in January, February, I, I, I buzz the, uh, VP of operations, and I said, let’s buy up a whole bunch of, uh, the active ingredient for that germicidal cleaner, cause this is not looking good. And, uh, we, we bought a little bit, but, uh, not nearly enough. And, um, I think, you know, on a global basis, we were basically playing whack-a-mole with outages of different materials. Uh, first it was being put on allocation by the active ingredient supplier saying, you know, we can only give you one drum a month where we needed four or five and eventually talked him into three. So I, on that,
Jeff Picken (41:34):
And then, uh, later on, I told all my friends don’t don’t ever throw away a trigger sprayer for the next six months. Cause it was pretty obvious that trigger sprayers were now the next bottleneck. Um, and then bottles themselves became a bottleneck. I think one of the, not eye-opening, but one of the takeaways. And it seemed like every time a newspaper article was getting closer and closer to getting it right, is that a lot of companies that are marketing CPGs don’t manufacture their own products. And we were so fortunate that we have our own supply chain under control because where, you know, some of the bigger players, they’re all sharing the same filler and that fillers are running 24 seven already before the pandemic, they had no ability to increase the capacity and throughput. So you started seeing outriggers on shelves of major national brands, meanwhile, little, all Beaumont products here in Kennesaw, Georgia.
Jeff Picken (42:26):
We had super capacity and we’ve actually, um, we’re up seven times on our volume of, of German solid cleaner, that one cleaner. And so we were able to go to Publix and Walmart and target and say, Hey, we know you can’t get this product from this manufacturer. We’ve got it. And, uh, very quickly we took our medical product out to retail and were able to get a retail placement and out to consumers for our germicidal cleaner, that is rated to kill, uh, the coronavirus. Um, and we got it out there and short, short time and, uh, put everybody in line and we’re taking orders and shipping. And then on top of that, we found another company and, uh, with technology for a hydrogen peroxide based germicidal cleaner disinfectant, and they actually had a partner with capacity to fill. So we quickly launched a disinfecting under the citrus magic brand and a natural disinfected with a hydrogen peroxide and were able to get that to market in three months during the pandemic. So we, you know, Rose to the challenge and did we could to make products to satiate the demand out there from the consumer during the COVID time. So very fortunate. Um, and we’ve been, I think I have a few more gray hairs and when I started, but, uh, we, uh, we’re uh, trying to meet the demand that’s being placed on us.
Scott Luton (43:43):
Yeah. Two quick observations there. Number one, the fact that you had your, your supply chain, at least your operations are inside the four walls of, of four sites, but, but inside the four walls, you know, there’s a ton of vetting as we’ve seen in 2020, because counterfeit products less than authentic products, supplies we’re entering global supply chain. So that’s a great a business advantage. And then secondly, you know, Hank, you mentioned a couple of big players, uh, five, 10 minutes ago. I love stories where small companies are out NuvaRing and outperforming the large players. I think that’s testimony to where the last few years have been in global business. And it’s such a great thing cause that that didn’t happen 20 or 30 years ago, but here in the era, the information age where we’re so much at your fingertips, that’s one of the great byproducts of the age we’re living in. So Hank, uh, what would you add to that when you, when you look at global business global manufacturing, you name it, what’s one big thing that you’re tracking more than others.
Hank Picken (44:42):
Well, you know, on a, on a day-to-day basis, Jeff is far more into it than, than I fully, uh, all the obvious reasons, but from a global standpoint, clearly us manufacturing is going to become less and less dependent on China. Uh that’s by, by definition, no matter what business you’re in, whether you’re in, in the drug business or you’re in the protective gear business. But I do think that’s something that, you know, the ma made and made in China is not going to be a prideful note notice on the back of a label of a package, uh, tomorrow as, as it was a year or so ago. The other piece of that global business that’s near and dear to our heart is the, as the citrus oil business to, um, because it’s important as a, um, as a raw material in one of our products.
Hank Picken (45:38):
So that’s something we track, but I think the, the other piece, and, um, I’ll, uh, say, say a couple of, couple of things historically is that the supply chain going in the other direction has changed so dramatically as to what the major retailers are expecting from their vendors today versus what it used to be. And, um, fortunately Jeff was, Jeff was here with the experience he had in the consulting business and the it experience out of tech that he was aiming to be the point person in making that conversion. I had, no, I hadn’t even heard the term EDI. And all of a sudden the whole world is on an EDI system where the orders are coming in electronically. When we started this business, we had two or three ladies sitting out there in the bullpen, writing orders, taking them off the telephone and the differences of the impact on that and the needs from little old Beaumont products, being able to respond and react and play and play their game, uh, was extremely important in our, in our growth. And I, I think Jeff could share a little bit of the fact that, uh, he was kind of the poster poster child and Bentonville when w went down and talked to the folks down in, um, in Bentonville about that whole setup in the introduction and how, how that system is to be used.
Scott Luton (47:05):
So Jeff would talk
Jeff Picken (47:08):
Last fall. Uh, we were fortunate enough to be invited by Walmart, to come out to Bentonville, to a corporate event for, um, veterans day. And obviously Hank being a veteran and us being a veteran owned small business. And we were recognized as a Walmart’s veteran and supplier of the year. And during that talk, they were asking me about my experience with Walmart. And I told him, you know, I go to every time we have a sales call, I fly out with our head of sales to see Walmart. And it’s not because I don’t trust our head of sales it’s because I learn a lot by going to Walmart. And I said it to them and you know, it rings true. If you can get Walmart, right, you can get everything right. And my going out there talking to them and seeing their world-class logistics and how they’re working, you can kind of see the seams on the fastball and know what’s coming next and logistics.
Jeff Picken (47:55):
And, you know, they’ve gone to the point now where they’re expecting their shipments to arrive in a one day window. And if you don’t hit that one day window, you’re going to be penalized for your whole week’s worth of shipment. So learning how to supply Walmart, if you can, like I said, if you can get Walmart, right, everybody else is really easy. And, uh, I’ll do a quick call out. If, if, if there are any Georgia manufacturers that are new to supplying Walmart and need a hand, please reach out. Because if I had had that help 10 years ago, and we started with Walmart and had these issues, um, I would have really appreciated it. So I’m happy to, to pay it forward with anybody out there that, um, is now supplying Walmart that is having a tough time. I’d be happy to talk to him
Scott Luton (48:35):
There. You know, it’s, it’s been really interesting to watch the e-commerce battles and, and Walmart changing its game and getting more and more competitive to challenging the 800 pound gorilla that’s that’s in, in that industry. And we, we need more competition there. So I love to hear what you are doing with Walmart. I love to hear the emphasis they place on working with veteran owned businesses and, and congrats on that honor. What a, what an incredible honor hits keep on coming for the Beaumont products team. All right. So for the sake of time, as much as I hate to do it, uh, we gotta start to wind down. Let’s make sure. So Jeff, you threw a, a great value for our audience out there. Let’s make sure folks know how to connect with you and the Belmont products team. Uh, Jeff.
Jeff Picken (49:17):
Yeah. I mean, the best way to find me is I am on LinkedIn, Jeff picking on LinkedIn and Beaumont products. If you just search either of those on LinkedIn, you’ll find me pretty quickly,
Scott Luton (49:26):
Danny. Well, we’ll make it even easier. We’re going to put those links in the show notes. We’re all after this one, click one click, make it really easy for the audience. All right. Hank, same question
Hank Picken (49:35):
Again. Jeff is in a far better position to feel those kinds of questions. And I, my, my, uh, information and knowledge is pretty much, uh, uh, dated, but, uh, um, you know, I, I think you guys have my email address. That’s probably the best way to get hold of me on, um, on, on the, on the road a lot. I actually a legal resident of, uh, Panama city, Florida, and, uh, come up here to Kennesaw about one, one week a month, um, to check in and referee. But I, I, I think any, anyone who wants to reach out and talk to someone, not look Jubal about the, uh, supply chain. Uh, I think they’re better off talking to Jeff’s and they are talking to me, although I’d be, I’d be happy to help in any
Jeff Picken (50:28):
Way I can. Hey, don’t be surprised if you get a couple of inquiries about doing some voiceover work. You’ve got a walk in here. I can hear a, uh, Jason, one of your audio books narrated by Hank pick. And can’t you. Yeah, no doubt. No doubt. That’s my New York city upbringing. Right? Very proper. I love it. All right. So let’s, uh, as we start to wind down, want to get Laura, you and Jason to weigh in on one thing that you are tracking while we still have Hank and Jeff here, and Lauren, let’s start with you, you know, as you’re surveying global business global manufacturing, what’s one thing that you’re tracking more than others right now
Laura Madajewski (51:03):
Tracking on what’s really going on with a supply chain. Uh, what are the future’s looking like right now? Where are companies having to look out to how far they’re having to project out too? So I’m kind of helping from the backside of that from the financial side, when we talk about budgets and, and, uh, customer demand, it’s really, how quickly are we going to get the product in? We’re seeing shortages. We’re seeing people at lower levels on inventory than they’ve had before for the past X number of years combined. So that’s really kind of where my, my time is being spent right now is keeping my eyes and ears open on what’s happening with products that are coming in across the country and, uh, from internationally and to the country right now and how it’s impacting companies.
Jeff Picken (51:46):
It’s the same question. I know your fingers on the pulse, across the manufacturing industry. What, what’s one thing you’re tracking right now, I’m going to combine two little pieces, cause you always like to get one plus a bonus, right? The technology trends, you know, as companies have to face what’s going on with the coronavirus, the way we’re engaging with our customers, our employees are in and our community technology, trans man, it is, it is amazing to see how businesses are responding and loving, to be able to serve their customers and produce the products that they need. But to tie that back to, to kind of our organization, our foundation is to help support and grow manufacturing in the state of Georgia. We’re ready to get back to regular networking. Last year, we did 120 live events all across the state. We toured things from Caterpillar to Coca-Cola to Bluebird bus, to Daniel defense.
Jeff Picken (52:37):
And, and, and we, we, we love going in and seeing factories live Jeff, like you were talking about going in to Bentonville to see what’s going on out there, put your eyes on it. You can do some really great things. So that’s what we are ready to get back to right now. We’re, we’re filling up our schedule for plant tours and trying to get things teed up for the end of this year and really kicking off 2021. We’re expecting that. Um, I mean, nobody knows what’s going on with the pandemic or if we’re done with it, or if we’re close, I think I’m ready to be done. Anybody else ready to be done? I’m completely ready to be done with the pandemic, but we’re getting geared up for, cause we got to continue to grow. And I think we need to continue to learn from each other and learn and best practices through other connections and being able to do some of these tours, I’m ready to get back to normal networking.
Jeff Picken (53:23):
Hopefully we’ll be able to do that soon mask free. Like Hank said, you know, we’re going to soon, soon we’ll be able to be in that spot. But you know, our goal is to, to make sure that we continue to serve the manufacturing community and, and the technology. Some of the things that we’ve done is, you know, we’re, we’re doing this, uh, lessons in leadership series. So Jeff, I may want to pick your brain and have you have you engaged with us a little bit and give us some insights on that. So, um, and, and that’s, that’s what I got. And guys, you guys knocked it out the park, you’ve done a fantastic job and really appreciate y’all sharing those best practices. And, uh, I know that our, our listeners are going to really appreciate the lessons that they learned today. Agreed. And we’re just scratching the surface. We know Hank and Jeff, there’s so much more to the story. We’ll have to have you all back as we continue to expound on a successful growth story. So congrats again on 30 years, Hey, Lauren, let’s make sure folks know how to connect with you.
Laura Madajewski (54:14):
Absolutely well, as, uh, Jeff echo, uh, said, um, reach out to me on LinkedIn is my name, Laura Mehta do ski under HLB gross Collins. I’m also on a couple of other social media channels or, you know, my email address Scott will make sure to drop in there. Um, our website is HLB growth, collins.com.
Jeff Picken (54:32):
Perfect. And Jason, um, everywhere you check out LinkedIn, if you, if you type in the words, Georgia manufacturing in a Google search, you will pop up Georgia manufacturing Alliance, Georgia manufacturing alliance.com is a website. LinkedIn, Facebook love to connect with anybody out there for sure. Outstanding. And we try to make it just that easy. So big, thanks to each of you. We really enjoy talking with Hank, picking Jeff, picking both with Beaumont products, outstanding story, thanks so much for joining us and a big thanks to our cohost and the folks that make it possible. Jason Moss, with the Georgia manufacturing Alliance and Laura Madejski with H lb gross Collins on that note to our listeners. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this conversation as much as we have. Hey, you can find more about interviews and stories like firstname.lastname@example.org same challenge that we challenge ourselves with that we challenge you with our audience, say, do good, give forward and be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next.
Would you rather watch the show in action? Watch Scott welcome Jason, Laura, Hank, and Jeff to Supply Chain Now through our YouTube channel.
Jeff Picken is the Chief Executive Offer of Beaumont Products. He started at Beaumont in 2001. He has worked in several departments and positions including; Marketing, Regulatory, Research, Operations and Accounting. Prior to joining Beaumont, Jeff was a consultant in the Retail Logistics space.
Hank Picken is a senior executive with proven leadership skills gained through 50 years of successful line management experience in General Management, Marketing and Finance/Accounting. He has an AB degree in Liberal Arts, a Masters Degree in Business (MBA) and he is also a CPA. He is a Vietnam Vet (US Army Infantry Captain). Hank taught both Marketing and Accounting at the AMA in New York and Austin Texas. After my service he joined Price Waterhouse where he earned his CPA and then transitioned to a Consumer Packaged Goods career with Lever Brothers, Pfizer and Colgate Palmolive. He formed Beaumont Products in 1991 and has been active there since then.
Jason Moss is Founder and CEO of the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance (GMA). The organization is the fastest growing community of industry professionals in the state. Since 2008, GMA has provided the premier platform for manufacturing leaders to form strategic alliances, share best business practices, and make profitable business connections. GMA now has six chapters across the state that are facilitated by volunteer chapter directors. The organization’s staff and Chapter Directors work together to identify quality manufacturers, coordinate plant tours, and provide educational workshops in their regions. Each month GMA provides at least 5 plant tours where others can learn best business practices from their peers. Learn more about the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance here: https://www.georgiamanufacturingalliance.com/
Laura Madajewski, CPA, MBA is a Principal in the Audit and Advisory department of HLB Gross Collins, P.C. She leads the firm’s Manufacturing and Distribution Practice, as well as the ERISA Practice of the firm. She has extensive experience helping clients improve controls, strengthen management, enhance governance roles and oversight and streamline operations through diligence to facilitate positive changes and growth for her clients’ operations. As a trusted advisor, she gets to know each client in order to provide a customized approach to their assurance and accounting needs. In her spare time, Laura enjoys charitable and volunteer roles throughout the Atlanta and North Fulton communities supporting various initiatives. She also is an avid barbeque fan and enjoys judging contests as a Kansas City Certified BBQ judge. Learn more about HLB Gross Collins here: https://hlbgrosscollins.com/
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