|Pennsylvania Governor, and former Philadelphia Mayor, Ed Rendell, joins the festivities as Ken Baker looks on.
May 28, 1998, Philadelphia, PA.
The quiet tension could be cut with a knife as
the envelope was being opened. Then, a hearty
cheer was let out as NewAge Industries was
declared this years Greater Philadelphia
Family Business Award winner for the mid-sized
company category. Ken Baker, CEO and company
owner, was nearly speechless before the crowd of
about 250 as he went forward to receive the award
at the Down Town Club on Independence Mall, this
"My lesson learned," said Baker, "is to write the acceptance speech when someone tells you to be prepared!" Baker attributed the success of the forty-four year old manufacturer of plastic tubing & hose, and hardness testers, to the "talented, hard working team members that have made the company what it is today." Seated with Baker, his wife and his daughter, and sharing in this family highlight was his 80 year old father, Raymond, founder of the firm in 1954.
The Greater Philadelphia Family Business Awards were organized by The University of Pennsylvanias famed Wharton Business School. This is just one of many regional contests held around the country in a search for the nations best run family businesses. Over 800 firms in the Philadelphia area were third-party nominated to participate in this years contest for a spot in one of three categories - large (over 250 employees); mid-sized (51 to 250 employees); and small (up to 50 employees). From those nominated, 201 took the challenge, and three finalists were selected in each of the three categories. The winning announcements were then made at the gala event held by Wharton in Philadelphia on May 28. Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell added to the festivities when he stopped by to offer some insight into the value of strong family businesses to the region and to wish the finalists well.
Tim Habbershon, Director of the Wharton Family-Controlled Corporation Program pointed out that the majority of American businesses are managed by families. It is those businesses that create most of the new jobs and new business breakthroughs. Family-owned businesses are the backbone of American business, he said, and so it is fitting that the best examples of this group in our region be honored with this award. Habbershon noted that "each of the finalists are in fact winners and [I] would prefer to call you all winners and go home now. But, we must choose a winner in each category."
The other finalists competing against NewAge Industries in the mid-size category were The Barness Organization, a third-generation developer, builder, and property management firm; and XRT, Inc., a second-generation treasury software systems development firm.
At the conclusion of the evening, Ken Baker asked Tim Habbershon how thay came to selecting NewAge as the winner. Habbershon responded, "Its your culture we (the judges) really liked what youre doing with your employees."
|NewAge has worked hard over the past number of years to make all of its team members part of the "family." "Were a family owned business, but when it comes to family run, Ken Baker sets the tone and expects us to take ownership of our jobs and develop our area as if we were an owner as if we were part of his family," says Donald G. Warner, Director of Marketing for the Plastics Technology Group. "Besides giving us the freedom and responsibility to handle our jobs, Ken has invested a lot into us. Weve been thoroughly trained in TQM and people management skills, as well as product and technology (computers). He provides for our well being with a gainshare bonus program, 401k, retirement program, medical and life insurance, and even an allowance to take our family to dinner every month or so at the William Penn Inn, a local five star restaurant. Ken also provides a safety net for those of us that have had a difficult time in life. Hes helped a few of us when weve gotten behind in our bills with a loan and a few others with drug or alcohol rehab. NewAge is a great place to work and it is because of Ken and Mr. Bakers treating us as real family that makes it all happen," says Warner. "This is a fine day for all of us."
|Founder Ray Baker and his wife Bea are surrounded by family and NewAge Industries team members before the Family Business of the Year awards ceremony. (Rays son and company CEO, Ken Baker and his family, at left).