- Mercer Stanfield Leads Brame Specialty Company In Its Fourth Generation
- A Flare For Jan/san Sales
- Early Days Of Janitorial Distribution
Avoiding Family Business Issues
The final part of this four-part article looks at why Stanfield has proved to be the best person to lead Brame Specialty Company into the future.
Jim was 59 years old when he became CEO and made way for Randy as company president in 2004. Randy was 61 when it was it his time to step down as president. Still thinking growth, the brothers were looking for someone younger to take over, someone who had proved he or she would be with the company for a while, says Jim Garrison, Brame Specialty Company CFO.
Even though Stanfield was not technically a Brame, nor was he the only person considered for the job, many at the company viewed him as the correct choice.
“People all knew Mercer,” says Randy. “He’d been here a long time. They knew his management style. I suspect that there was some relief that now we know where the future of the company is going.”
Back when Stanfield first moved to the Durham office, he began working closer with Garrison, trying to understand the financial side of the business — or any other part of the business, for that matter.
Stanfield has continued in this manner even after he was elevated to president and COO.
“He’s got a real ability to relate to the guy on the dock, to management and customers,” says Garrison.
Working in a family business can be difficult for some people, learning to be respectful of relationships and personalities. But Stanfield has managed it about as well as could be expected, says Garrison.
“He’s been very good at that, not coming in swinging his elbows,” he says. “That’s his personality. He understands the situation, and he’s able to navigate it very well.”
Stanfield’s disarming nature fits in well at the top of a company that has always emphasized loyalty above almost all else. While some distributors are more ruthless, says Garrison, Brame Specialty Company values loyalty to its manufacturers — but expects loyalty in return. The entryway of Brame Specialty Company’s Briggs Avenue office is adorned with glass trophies and plaques celebrating $2.2 million in sales with one manufacturer or $2.6 million with another.
“It’s a partnership in their minds,” says Garrison.
That loyalty extends to employees as well.
The funny thing about finding a capable and willing successor to a family business is that the business has to figure out how to keep employees, such as Stanfield, there long enough for them to become capable and willing. Although no conversation about keeping Stanfield at Brame ever took place, Jim and Randy had encouraged him to become more involved in the jan/san distribution industry. Likewise, shifting Stanfield from director of purchasing to director of sales was a way for Randy and Jim to round out Stanfield’s distribution business acumen.
“They were investing in me,” says Stanfield.
But, again, loyalty was expected in return, and Stanfield delivered.
Stanfield had stuck with the company for 16 years, working wherever he was needed, doing whatever was necessary. He had created several thriving sales territories and had worked in three different locations in half a dozen different positions. Just as he didn’t force his way out of the director of purchasing position, Stanfield was never particularly vocal about his desire to take over as company president, even though it was definitely something for which he was striving.
“You just go out and do the absolute best that you can,” says Stanfield. “And good things will happen.”
That may sound cliché, but the rest of the Brame family speaks the same language.
“In the 40-some years I was here, there was never a guarantee,” says Randy. “Things happen because you’ve earned it.”
Early Days Of Janitorial Distribution
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