July '19

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R ichard LaVanture's father, Dick, and grandfather, Bob, started LaVanture Products Co. in 1969. Dick LaVanture has taken somewhat of a back seat, but still enjoys coming in and doing marketing. "He's a sales guy at heart and likes doing marketing," Richard says. "We love to see the relationship in your sales after doing a marketing campaign. New sales excite us as it helps us grow our reach and potential." Richard learned a lot from and about his father when it comes to work. "When you're at work you see people under a totally different light. In your average day in business, you're negotiating; whether it's the finer point of selling somebody or pricing or working on strategy. You don't often have an opportunity in a home envi- ronment to come up with strategy." Though he purchased the family business in 2015, Richard didn't start at LaVanture Products directly out of college. "It was something I always wanted to do (get into the busi- ness), but I wanted to go off and get experience first. After grad- uate school I worked for a few years for the one of the big five accounting firms, getting exposure to different businesses." In 2004, LaVanture sold the manufac- turing lines to Atlantis Plastics and the business dynamics changed greatly. Richard describes, "It was perfect time for me to come back." "I remember the first day, Dad let me have at it. He and I were always best friends. Growing up, we took long road trips; we would always talk business, although. You know this is what you can and can't do. It was implicit and it worked for us. You know I didn't do anything that I shouldn't have without asking him that was too large." Richard still remembers his dad's work/life balance as the company celebrates 50 years in business. "Even now we'll regularly talk business because it's enjoy- ment," he says. "It's what we do, who we are. I kind of chuckle and struggle when I hear people talk about work/life balance because I don't know how you separate the two of them. They're kind of one thing for me. I'm not a different person when I come to work or when I go home." JULY SPECIAL SECTION LAVANTURE PRODUCTS RICHARD AND DICK LAVANTURE W hen it's the family name and reputation behind a business, being the second generation might seem like a stressful job. But Andrea Mullin, daughter of Arrow Founder and President Andrew Nelsen, says working and collaborating with the people she cares most about helps make decision-making easier because everybody is working toward a common goal. "The work environment is more relaxed when you work with family because you deal with them on a personal level as well as a professional level," she says. "We have more flexibility on decision making and we don't have to go through multiple layers of management to get some- thing done. We can just make a decision on the spur of the moment when needed." Andrea and her husband, Andy, are both vice presidents who have overseen the most recent growth of the company. Nelsen started the company in 1981 with a single location in Omaha, Neb. It now has warehouses and eight distribution centers up and down most of the Midwest, as well as a location in Southern California that has been an important hub in the company's expansion into the Southwest. Andrea grew up along with the company and learned to think of the employees as an extension of her family. "I have seen the company evolve over the years," she says. "I have watched this company go from paper to paperless. We started out with just a few employees and now we employ about 90 people. I think what is rewarding is that there is a lot of longevity and loyalty with employees who work for Arrow. "I have known many of the employees since I was a small child. They have watched me grow and I have watched them grow, as well." Andrea and Andy work as a leadership team alongside Nelsen, so there is a lot of collaboration, but she admits that sometimes it can be just too much family time. "Things can get a little hairy if we are not all in agreement when making a major decision, but I wouldn't trade it for anything," she says. "I love being able to come to work and see my family. I feel that it has strengthened my relationship with my family." ARROW DISTRIBUTING ANDREW NELSEN, ANDREA AND ANDY MULLIN 40 • RV PRO • July 2019 RV PRO: ALL IN THE FAMILY

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