July '19

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112 • RV PRO • July 2019 RV PRO: ALL IN THE FAMILY JULY SPECIAL SECTION D uring the summer of 1988, Jeremy Chase joined the RV industry, during his junior year of high school. Jeremy's grandfather, Mark Chase, operated a heating and air conditioning shop that had moved from mobile home specialty into the RV sector and needed some grunt help. Jeremy took the position as a summer installer of air condi- tioners, refrigerators, water heaters, and runner for parts. "I gave my blood (68 stitches when building our shop in 1990) sweat and tears to get where I am now and would happily do it all over again," he says. His father, Jerry Chase, started working at the shop around 1985 taking care of bookkeeping, but also helped to build the shipping and receiving side of the company. Unfortunately, he passed away at the young age of 45. "Before his passing, he and my grandfather (who passed in 2011) asked me to come back to the company and help continue building the company into something more," Jeremy says. One of the first things his grandfather and father taught him about business was how to treat customers. "Even though grandpa only knew most of our customers through phone conversations, he took the time to get to know each one personally," Jeremy says. "He would ask about their family life, where they were raised, and what their plans were for the weekend. It was always like he was chatting with an old friend and doing some business on the side." When he came back to Laurelhurst in 1995, Jeremy began J oanna Agosta Shere watched her grandfather and father work hard at Steele Rubber Products over the years. Her grandfather began the business 60 years ago, and her father is now the president of the company. "When my grandfather started the company (which primarily began as a company making parts in the classic car market), it was built off a passion for his own hobby," she says. "He used his engineering background to develop a product that really benefited his own need restoring his own car. I think he was surprised to learn there was a market for what he was doing and that he could make a business out of it. Originally, it was only a little side-line business to his primary business of a tool-and-die shop. When he decided to make it the current business his focus, he realized that he didn't have the business background to make it grow, so he hired his son-in-law, because he had a business degree. "My father grew the company into a well-known brand in the classic automotive market," she says. "I began helping them as a child. Throughout my teen years and into my college days, I held a variety of positions working in manu- facturing and customer service." Joanna officially came to the business in 2005 with a sales and marketing background. Creating products for the RV Market seemed like a natural progression to her. "We're very fortunate now that even with divergent interests, everyone wants what's best for the company," she says. "I've worked very close with my dad now for 14 years. In that time, you see your father not as the family patriarch, but also as a person with strengths and weaknesses like all other people. You get to know them as the person, as well as they get to know you." LAURELHURST DISTRIBUTORS JEREMY, MARK AND JERRY CHASE working on building a catalog and working the phones to help with taking orders, ordering parts, and building relationships with vendors and customers. "I believe the culture of our company has been deeply influ- enced by the theme of family," he says. "We all are working together as a team to help grow the business into the best thing it can be but understand that when life happens and someone needs to take care of personal business we stand behind them and all work a little harder and wear more hats until our brother, daughter, son, cousin, father, grandfather or grandmother makes it back to the team." STEELE RUBBER PRODUCTS JOANNA AGOSTA SHERE, MATT AGOSTA, AND DAVID SHERE Jeremy Chase (left) with grandfather Mark Chase Matt Agosta (left), Joanna Agosta Shere and David Shere

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