First Business

July 28, 2011

Leadership: Five ways to reinvent your business

No business can survive without undergoing change. Customer needs and wants change, and companies must keep pace with those changes.

This month I’m sharing the story of an international manufacturer headquartered in Janesville, Wisconsin. Its name is Hufcor. In 2009, I had the privilege of interviewing John E. Hough, former CEO, then age 90, who gave me a first-hand account of how the company became what it is today.

In 1900, John’s father, Azel, founded Hough Shade Corporate in South Butler, New York. Its product, wood slat porch shades, made from basswood, was produced using equipment invented by Azel. In 1902, Azel moved his young company to Janesville where basswood was much more abundant. Azel’s decision set the stage for a company culture that was versatile, pragmatically embraced and responsive to change.

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