In 1967, John Carman and his wife, Pat, had five children and one on the way. To many, this might sound like the worst time to leave a steady job and consider starting a business. Yet, to an entrepreneur such as John, this seemed like the opportune time to create StandFast Packaging with his business partner, John Morrice. And much to her credit – even expecting their sixth child – Pat agreed.
StandFast Packaging would grow over the next three decades to become a strong family business. By 1993, three of John’s sons, Jay, Keith and Scott, were working for StandFast and John bought out his partner, Mr. Morrice. The business enjoyed unprecedented sales for three years following the buyout. But as the company grew, StandFast faced new challenges.
In 1996, the company expanded from a 35,000 square foot facility to a 65,000 square foot facility. This move, along with the growth it represented, caused chaos in the company as well as the family. With the future of StandFast Packaging – and the Carman family – at a turning point, what would be the key to getting both back to a positive place?
In 1998, John Carman Jr. joined the business on the production side of the company. As a former officer in the Navy, John was accustomed to strict processes. Together, the second generation was able to see that the family business would benefit from an analysis to improve the company’s manufacturing side. Each of the brothers, Jay, Keith, Scott, and John, brought in outside resources to help bring StandFast to a stronger state of operation. The brothers also began to see the need for empowering the men and women who worked at StandFast to create a more valuable and seamless team-based company.
Change is never easy and with the help of a family business consultant, Dr. Ed Hoover, the Carmans were able to design a family business policy. This was a vital first step to set guidelines for the family to operate within the business. It opened the door to communication and stopped the “bickering around the family dinner table”. With the help of AFE (the Architecture for Excellence developed by Mr. Lynn Wright), the Carmans were able to increase production and efficiencies while giving responsibility of the tasks to the employees. And, with the help of the team-based system, the Carmans empowered and trained their employees to have a voice and sense of responsibility within the company. If you visit StandFast Packaging today, you’ll see the impressive systems and processes in place which allow the company to operate smoothly, all while supporting each individual and the entire team. What you don’t necessarily see is that though the process of transferring ownership was challenging and emotional, it was done with honor, respect, and dignity. The Carman family is whole and the business is thriving.
Seeking outside resources proved to be a valuable solution for StandFast when they faced tough times. As John and Keith reflect on the history of their company today, they recognize that being in a family business is an experience like none other. They instantly know when they meet another family business, as there is an immediate connection and feeling of commonality. By being open to others’ experiences and having a willingness to learn from advisors, they would counsel that you allow yourself to grow as an individual, as a business and, most importantly, as a family. This is what the CFBC has given the Carman Family and StandFast Packaging – connections to others and the mindset that above all else, it is the people that matter most.