Posted on Apr 20, 2015
Now & Then: Nyco Products Bob Stahurski (front) celebrates his purchase of Nyco Products with Bob Stahurski Jr., Jim Shea, and Bob Houston., 1985.

From bottles you could drink, to chemicals under the sink.

Nyco Products Company has come a long way from its original roots as Chippewa Water distributor, which sold bottled water in Chicago during the 1920s. Vincent Nyad (thus the origin of Nyco) saw the need for this product due to Chicago’s notoriously unpleasant drinking water in those days. Eventually, Vince started selling a powdered cleaner known as Beck Cleaner to some of his best customers. Luckily for Chicago, the water purification systems improved around the same time Beck Cleaner was being sold by Vince. He quickly found the cleaner more profitable to the business than bottled water, thus Nyco Products was born and began selling cleaners only.

ChippewaWaterIn 1954 Vince sold the company to Alex Evans and the business opened a new location at 1801 S. Jefferson Street in Chicago. Meanwhile in 1963, Bob Stahurski Sr. and two partners had started a company, Service Chemical, which unfortunately went out of business in its second year of operation. Shortly after this, Bob Stahurski Sr.’s experience with chemicals and cleaning products appealed to Alex who asked him to come join Nyco Products.

Ten years later, Alex sold the company to his brother-in-law, Ray Novy. Ray was a retired accountant for the railroad, but his knowledge about chemicals and cleaning products was limited. Luckily for Ray, Alex structured the sale to include Bob having a minority interest and keeping Bob’s formulation and product knowledge with Nyco. By 1984, Bob Stahurski Sr. reached a decision to purchase the majority stock position or leave and start a new company. Bob structured the purchase deal along with the Sales Manager and Production Manager, purchasing Nyco from Raymond in February of 1985.  During this purchase, they created a highly structured buy-sell agreement. Sadly, tragedy struck at the very same time as Bob Stahurski Sr. was diagnosed with terminal cancer that same year. In April of 1986, Bob Stahurski Sr. passed away at the age of 54.

At a shareholder meeting shortly before Bob Sr.’s passing, it was decided that Bob Stahurski Jr. would become President of Nyco upon his father’s passing. The shareholders had named Bob the successor to his father, but Bob Jr. was never made aware of this decision. Over a weekend, Bob Jr. transitioned from leading Nyco’s marketing and graphic design department to presiding over a company he had 10 years of experience with but no succession or management training. Within the first two weeks of being President, Bob dove right into the role, including refinancing the business from the initial shareholder buyout. Having no family estate or succession plans in place he also was challenged to transition stock shares from his mother, Mary Ann.

With Bob Jr. at the helm as the first second generation president in the company’s history, Nyco was now truly a family business and looking forward to the future.

Overcoming tragedy to become a leading cleaning brand supplier.

Bob demonstrated from the start that he was a capable leader as he confidently guided the team at Nyco Products. To strengthen his leadership, Bob surrounded himself with resources and fellow leaders by becoming involved in several outside organizations. Eventually, Bob was able to buy out the other two original partners, but he also ensured that any of their family working in the business maintained shareholder status. Bob’s open door attitude with his experienced employees and willingness to adapt in changing times allowed Nyco Products to flourish.

In 1999, Nyco sold its master wholesale division, ReDex, which represented over 30 companies in the janitorial/sanitation industry. At the same time, the company moved its manufacturing facility from Chicago to a building adjacent to Nyco’s Countryside, IL distribution center. These two changes caused Nyco to take a hit on revenue, but it allowed the business the opportunity to shift its focus back to its sweet spot: specialty chemical manufacturing and helping companies build better brands. With a degree in marketing from DePaul University, Bob was able to bring his expertise to this aspect of the business and drive the business forward.

Nyco Products not only helps companies with formulating their cleaning products, but also creates the marketing strategies behind them. This includes everything from marketing materials to launching products into the marketplace. Nyco believes these marketing strategies increase the shareholder value and builds a better brand. In recent years, the marketing details have been fine-tuned and strengthened even more, and this attention to detail continues to elevate Nyco brands.

On September 26, 2012 Nyco Products launched Ownership Thinking. This program creates a culture and process for building profitability by providing financial disclosure within the company. As Bob explains, there can often be a disconnect between owners and employees. The Ownership Thinking platform provides both shareholders and employees complete transparency in how the company is performing. Nyco has made it a priority to allow their employees (some with up to 45 years of tenure with the company under their belts) to prosper when the company reaches its defined profitability goals. By measuring critical KPI’s, Ownership Thinking increases communication for the entire team at Nyco and ultimately keeps them working smarter. The program also helps employees find creative ways for both the company and all employees to make more money, even when the economy isn’t at its strongest.

Nyco Products' newest product line, OM1.

Nyco Products’ newest product line, OM1.

Nyco’s most recent product launch project involved working with a brand new molecule known as Omnia™ which was developed by Eastman Chemical. As the first company to formulate with Omnia™, Nyco has created a new series of safely responsible cleaners called OM1. Working on this project has given Nyco an ‘innovator’ position in the industry and Bob describes the OM1 Series Cleaners as the most fun he and his team have had in his 34 years at the company.

Bob isn’t the only family member to work in the family business since his father’s passing in 1986. Both of Bob’s sisters have worked for Nyco Products, but only his older sister, Jeanne, is still involved in H/R and administration. Additionally, his mother, Mary Ann, worked on the A/R team until she was 78 years old. Today, Bob’s wife, Colleen, works on the strategic planning team along with running process improvement implementation. John Wunderlich, Executive Vice President of Sales, and Mark Houston, Purchasing Manager, along with Bob’s sister Jeanne all own shares in the company. Nyco has multiple plans in place for worst-case scenarios to avoid pandemonium in the event of one of the Four D’s: Death, Disability, Divorce or Disruption. And to further ensure Nyco’s continued success, Bob remains very involved in other charities and communities, which gives him motivation and passion to bring back to the business.

Chicago Family Business Council: A sacred forum with a sacred team.

Bob has found a special place in the Chicago Family Business Council (CFBC). Bob describes his Forum as sacred, and finds great value in the shared experiences he receives from his Forum mates. Not only that, Bob says that being involved in the CFBC has improved his relationships and made him a more objective and better person. All of this is carried back to Nyco with him, and it really shows when he talks about his passion for his team members. In addition to the CFBC, Bob has also been heavily involved with the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) and Cleaning for a Reason.

Today, when you ask Bob to tell you about Nyco Products, he first speaks of the people, not the buildings or the equipment. At Nyco, everyone is treated equally and it is clear to see Bob’s passion for his team. So what’s next for Bob and the team at Nyco Products? Bob has no intention of leaving the business anytime soon. None of Bob and Colleen’s three children are actively involved in the business, although they all worked summer jobs at Nyco during college. It’s uncertain if Nyco will remain under the family name. Nyco Products is looking at potential opportunities to relocate to a larger facility and exploring acquisition possibilities as well. As the company continues to grow, processes evolve and the team is constantly working to become more efficient.

No matter what challenges Bob faces in the future, he is confident in Nyco Products’ five-year Strategic Long Range Plan and strives to reach the goals that are included within that document. What is the biggest plan of all? Bob remarks, “To stay humble, stay focused and continue to serve Nyco’s customers and employees.”

Jeanne Wilson (Bob’s sister/Administrative Services Manager), Bob Stahurski Jr.(CEO/President), Mark Houston (Purchasing Manager/Bob Houston’s son), John Wunderlich (V.P. of Sales)

Jeanne Wilson (Bob’s sister/Administrative Services Manager), Bob Stahurski Jr.(CEO/President), Mark Houston (Purchasing Manager/Bob Houston’s son), John Wunderlich (V.P. of Sales)

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