FAMILY BONDS TAKE CENTER STAGE
“When we were asked to partner with the industry’s oldest and most respected garage door brand, we jumped at the opportunity,” says Jim [Stumpf, CEO of Overhead Door Company of Portland]. “Overhead Door Comp. invented the original overhead door back in 1921 and the garage door opener system in 1926. They’re kind of like the Ford of our industry.”
When Jim took over Overhead Door Co. of Portland, he started with six or seven staff members. Now, there are around 40 employees – and many have been with the company for decades. One of the longest-standing employees might actually be Jim’s son, Ryan, whose first “official” job consisted of counting nuts and bolts in the warehouse at nine years old.
“I grew up I the business,” says Ryan. “During high school, I washed the fleet vehicles on weekends and helped maintain the inventory, and worked on landscaping during the summers. I continued working with the company even during junior college, training under the journeymen and performing garage door installations.”
Ryan is the youngest of Jim and Sandy’s four children – and the only son. “I always used to tell him, ‘you’re my favorite son.’ For a while he didn’t pick up on that, then one day he says, ‘Dad, I’m your only son!’” Jim says, laughing.
Jim’s children all went to different colleges, each with different careers in mind. Ryan attended the University of Oregon and earned a degree in business administration. When his dad asked him to join the business – with the possibility of one day taking it over – Ryan was inspired by the prospects of being a leader and his own boss. He accepted his dad’s offer and began working with him full time in 2009.
“My dad and I are extremely close, and working with him is great,” says Ryan. “We’ve always had this understanding that our relationship is more important than work – and we have never let our professional responsibilities compromise that.”
Jim adds, “I know I made the right decision to train up Ryan to lead the company. He’s a quick learner and a hard worker, and also outgoing and not afraid to ask questions. You ask him to do something and he gets it done, and he has so many great ideas!”
Ryan says he’s fortunate to mentor under a man who’s always made family his top priority. These men not only are supportive of each other, they also share many of the same principles and goals. This, Ryan says, is not always the case for other family-owned companies, where loved ones’ relationships can become strained due to divergent priorities and other pressures associated with business operations.
“To be successful in business together, family members need to have honest, open dialogue and be aligned in their priorities and decision-making process. If there’s one thing my father has taught me, it’s that nothing is more important than family,” he says. His sister, Jamie, also chose to join the family business. She is the Commercial Project Manager and oversees the administration of all commercial contracts.
When asked how it feels to have his children follow in his career footsteps, Jim responds proudly, “I’m really happy that they feel there’s a future in this business. It is a true blessing that Ryan and Jamie seem to enjoy working together and get along so well.”