Founder and CEO, Larry Zavadil, explains how American has preserved a company culture that encourages success and longevity.
Family has always been the most important part of my life. Because I wanted my children to grow up in a small, wholesome community, I started American Solutions for Business in 1981 in Glenwood, Minnesota—my hometown. As the business expanded, I acquired a large extended family of dedicated employees. Since then, it’s been my job to keep this family happy, thriving and successful.
In the beginning, we considered becoming a publicly traded company, but we didn’t want to be at the mercy of shareholders who didn’t care about the business or people. We also thought about merging or joining another company, but the first thing they’d do is shut down the Glenwood offices. As the town has evolved, it’s become a big part of our culture and who we are. We’ve kept the downtown alive by taking old buildings and turn them into offices, which is a win-win for both us and the community. An outsider is always going to want to build a new building. The problem is that we would lose a big part of our story.
We really started to grow quickly after becoming an employee-owned company in 2000, which was the best decision for the company in the long run. Having a family-run business or multi-generational company in our industry doesn’t seem to be very successful. After the first and second generation, they just don’t have all the blood and sweat you need to run a company. They stop growing because it’s just about the owner or the family and not about the business or the people. Now everyone can be a shareholder. Everyone can own a piece of the rock. This keeps our culture preserved. Our vision is to be the last company standing—whatever that means. It’s a natural progression. We’ve found a way to modify the “family business model” and can now go generation to generation, as long as we have people who care.