2010 Hall of Fame: Gene Chaiken, Chairman and CEO, Almo
When Chaiken started at Almo, there were two parts to the company: a private firm with 13 small branches in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland that sold replacement parts, and an industrial electronics business, which was public. In 1968, both were sold to a third party and operated as a freestanding subsidiary, but two years later, the family bought the company back. "I was 29 years old, and figured out how to do it as a leveraged buyout for $65,000 in cash and a lot of notes - and it was about a $6 million company," he recalled. Ever since, Almo has been all family, all the way. The company now includes an extended family of generations of loyal employees and their children and grandchildren.
"From a business standpoint, the first thing I'd mention is Gene's integrity. His word is his bond. If he said he'd do something, it got done," said Ed Sachs, managing director of Associate Marketing Partners, a friend and business colleague of more than 20 years going back to when Sachs dealt with Almo as an executive at Pioneer's Mobile Electronics Division. "He's a very family-oriented guy - family comes first. He has compassion, and a passion for living and for life."
Sachs also commented on Chaiken's ability to successfully bring together family and work. "It was fun for me to stand back and watch, because I've seen in so many family-run operations difficulties between the family members and the employees of the company," Sachs said. "I don't think I've ever seen a company where those who work there who are not family members feel as much about their participation in the company as I've seen there. It's an incredible molding and blending of family, entrepreneurial spirit and employee relations."