Ultimately, however, the brothers did return to the family business, where they worked in each department over time to better support the company as future leaders. “Our parents, in particular our father, were pretty adamant about making sure we worked in different areas of the business,” Balogh says. Coming from sales, he worked in sales and engineering at Mar-Bal for about six years, then took on responsibility in finance administration, ran a plant for a number of years and later supervised all the plant managers.
For Balogh, the product engineering unique to the composites industry proved to have the steepest learning curve in this educational process. “I had never studied engineering, so learning the part and mold design, that was hard,” he says. “Materials engineering – understanding the base building blocks of materials, the chemistry, all the different things that you can and can’t do with these materials – that was also very hard.” Tackling this engineering role early in his training proved beneficial and provided a strong support for the rest of the roles Balogh undertook.
The Value of an Outside Perspective
Balogh says that by the time the succession process began, everyone was ready to move on. “My dad started working on his own when he was 13 years old, so he was working for a long time,” he points out.
But what helped the company reach the next level was the objective perspective of an outside advisory board. “It helps you to take out some of the family dynamics that have existed since you wrecked your brother’s bike or you stayed out too late and didn’t get home for dinner – the family stuff that affects people,” he says.
John Lauseng, CPA, says, “An outside advisory board can provide perspective and expertise that may not exist within the management team because they bring a wide variety of experience.” Lauseng is audit partner for Aldrich Advisors, an accounting and consulting firm serving the manufacturing industry and others. “An effective advisory board will provide value through leveraging the multi-disciplinary capabilities of its members in an objective fashion,” he says. “They can provide specific guidance, helping to anticipate and identify opportunities and obstacles based on practical experience with other successions.”