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‘Financial success of the family is at stake’

Current chair of the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Gary Champlin, heads a family owned tyre recycling business in ‘fly-over state’ Kansas.

Read the full ‘family business’ feature here >>

Five million scrap tyres pass through the hands of Gary, Corey, Alec and Chase Champlin each year. Based in Concordia, a small town west of Kansas City, Champlin Tire Recycling services six US states. It also manufactures park benches and picnic tables.

Managing director Gary Champlin has been in the recycling business since 1992. ‘We continue to grow and expand our end market product lines. We have been very resilient as we all are in this industry long term,’ he says.

Recycling is a people’s business. Or, as many in the industry often say, it is a business of relationships and recyclers could not see themselves working in any other sphere. Gary: ‘I feel exactly the same way about our family’s recycling business. The sense of accomplishment is shared by the entire family and not just as an individual performing at work. The success of a family business will be enjoyed beyond the business itself.’

Sunday dinner

Even so, Gary agrees, family run scrap companies have their specific dynamics. ‘Family businesses can be streamlined in the decision-making process, even over Sunday dinner. It also can be challenging that decisions stay in the best interest of the company when personal family dynamics are involved. Crises like coronavirus will show the strength and weaknesses of any company or industry. Families are truly in this together.’

A lot of what we may see as challenges in family owned and family run businesses become strengths, according to the tyre recycler. ‘Communication with family members tends to be more direct in nature but the success of the company can ultimately benefit the entire family even beyond those members that work together. Your sense of direction becomes even more pronounced because you literally have the financial success of your family at stake.’

Asked to name one disadvantage, Gary says you are always at work even when you are away on vacation. ‘This is because the business is part of the family dynamics. It also becomes one of the great advantages if managed correctly.’

Make a plan

What about the next generation to lead Champlin Tire Recycling? Succession can be handled in as many ways as there are family businesses, says Gary. ‘Having a sense of upcoming generations operating in the business gives you long term hope and a vested interest beyond the financial. You are truly blessed if all the talent and knowledge needed to pass on for the continued success of the company exists within the family itself. The most important aspect is to have a plan in place long before it is needed; too many of us wait too long. ‘

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