David Abraham sees the positive impact of a level playing field

David Abraham, co-CEO of Accel Inc., is a 2019 Columbus Smart 50 honoree and Impact award winner

Strengthening an organization’s impact starts at the top of a privately held company, says David Abraham, co-CEO of Accel Inc.

“There is no place in an organizational chart for an owner,” he says. “Find the job in your company that you deserve to lead, so you are held accountable just like everyone else. You will see the impact that leveling the playing field has on your company and employees.”

Abraham’s own role has recently changed, as he focuses more on problem solving and envisioning what’s next for the New Albany company that specializes in contract packaging and hand assembly.

He’s also made an effort to make faster decisions about employees — for instance, if a leader isn’t making an impact.

“I’ve been very patient on hoping they get there,” Abraham says. “I’ve had to take a step back. I was being too patient, and that was hurting the organization.”

Diversity and inclusion

As retailers shift from push to pull, and inventories stay flexible and agile, companies like Accel must embrace speed to market. This is often accomplished through automation.

Accel has automated about 40 percent of its business, which has actually created more jobs, he says. Accel employs about 435 full-time-equivalent employees, but the workforce can go as high as 700.

“I take it upon myself to communicate to our employees about automation,” Abraham says. “I don’t want them to worry when they see a robotic arm in here or some piece of equipment coming in.”

This past summer, the company made 125 temporary employees permanent.

Accel gives its entry-level hires a career path and as much stability as it can. The company even provides transportation to work with other supply chain companies.

Abraham also likes bringing different people into meetings, because diverse thought generates innovation.

“You’d be amazed what comes out of some people that don’t have any knowledge in that particular area you’re talking about,” he says. “Since they don’t have that tunnel vision, they come up with something much more creative or a better problem-solver.”

Connecting to customers

Accel’s continued growth was also sparked by learning how to better sell the company.

Abraham, and his wife and co-CEO Tara, have always been passionate about Accel, but the team has learned how to connect Accel’s value to customers’ needs.

Plus, a willingness to jump in is always appreciated.

“Lean in when others lean out; being curious to solve problems deepens customer relationships,” Abraham says.