Chris Gabrelcik uses his entrepreneurial spirit to spark economic development

Chris Gabrelcik, founder, president and CEO, Lubrication Specialties Inc., is a 2019 Columbus Smart 50 honoree and Innovation award winner

Just like its leader Chris Gabrelcik, who is more entrepreneur than executive, Lubrication Specialties Inc. has more ideas than time to execute them.

“By the time we get one project done, we’ve already come up with five more ideas,” Gabrelcik says. “Usually for us, it’s a matter of trying to manage the priorities in terms of, ‘OK, here’s 10 really good ideas. Which of these 10 do we have the time and resources to start on and which has the most benefit to us?’”

The company naturally attracts creative people like himself, so Gabrelcik has learned to balance that out with those who are more orderly, who can help cross the t’s and dot the i’s.

The innovative culture also is nurtured by giving his employees room to fail by testing new ideas on a small scale.

Building up jobs

Gabrelcik started LSI in 1997. For a decade, he focused on making a decent income and spending time with his family, including his six children.

He found a niche focusing on specialty products, making high-performance additives and engine oils for industrial and commercial applications, including the flagship product, Hot Shot’s Secret Stiction Eliminator.

As his children grew older, Gabrelcik realized there weren’t many jobs in Morrow County.

“That changed my way of thinking to, how can we bring on more people and build out the infrastructure where each person pays for themselves?” he says.

As Gabrelcik created new business units — like a real estate development company to provide affordable housing for employees — and bought two existing companies, LSI became the county’s fourth largest employer, even though it has a workforce of fewer than 40 people.

Disruptor

The company, which generates more than $10 million in revenue, is poised to jump in size again with its latest endeavor, Microwave Renewable Technologies. MRT, an LSI subsidiary, has, over the past three years, developed the TIRE HOG, a mobile machine for recycling tires.

“What’s really great about it is if you have really big tire dump and you wanted to deploy 20 units, you can clean it up in three months,” Gabrelcik says.

The recycled tires go through a process that’s more than 80 percent efficient, and the byproduct is a carbon of high enough quality that it can be reused in tires, he says.

LSI is finishing up its prototype, but already has orders for five machines from a Saudi Arabian company.