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IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC. CEO shares company growth strategies

11/03/2016

(Taken from daily-chronicle.com)

By Stephanie Markham - smarkham@shawmedia.com

DeKALB – For a company to see success as has Ideal Industries, the Sycamore-based manufacturing company that turned 100 this year, its leaders must be open to two key factors: change and risk, CEO and chairman Jim James said.

James shared strategies for company growth Wednesday during his keynote speech at the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp.’s annual State of the County address.

“Before we really could grow, one of the things we had to do was make sure our foundation was strong,” James said. “When we talk about foundation, it’s not just about your process, your procedures, your operational abilities, but your foundation includes things like your willingness to change.”

J. Walter Becker founded Ideal Industries in 1916 in Chicago and moved it to Sycamore in 1924. Members of his family still are in charge of running the company today.

James said Ideal Industries is at a point where it may need to transition again for continued growth while its products have high market shares, and for that to happen, everyone from the family to management and employees need to be on board with mixing things up.

“An organization needs to be able to change,” James said. “When you’re a 100-year-old company, over that hundred years, you’ve had to transform a couple of different times.”

James said taking risks also is important for a company, but those risks need to be calculated and thought out.

“People think that’s an easy thing to do, but it’s not,” he said. “People don’t like change. They don’t like risk, and we still have parts of our organization that don’t like risk. The ability to take risks is so critical, but you can’t just be out there willy-nilly and free-flowing. You’ve got to have the ability to take the opportunities and seize them and move forward.”

Paul Borek, executive director of the DCEDC, said the organization has been giving State of the County addresses for 29 years, but members decided a few years ago to include significant keynote speakers as well.

Borek updated local business representatives and city officials in the audience on various developments within the county, such as the DeKalb County Jail expansion project and new businesses opening.

He also spoke about the importance of collaborations and internship programs with Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College in creating a productive workforce and talent pool.

“Partnerships with our outstanding educational and leadership institutions are critical to economic development,” Borek said. “Northern Illinois University is the most significant economic engine in DeKalb County. It’s economic impact on the northern Illinois region is estimated at $895 million; it employs over 9,000 workers, and another 12,000 jobs depend on the university.” 

Borek said James was chosen as the keynote speaker because Ideal Industries is a “world class company” within the community that is committed to innovation and new product development.

“It’s just fascinating how Ideal has grown, and how the community can potentially grow with Ideal,” he said. 

For original article, click here.

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