The Beard file Featured

8:00pm EDT July 28, 2006
Bachelor’s degree in finance and master’s in business administration, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio; master’s degree, international economics, University of Detroit Mercy

First job:
I entered the management training program for graduate students at Chrysler, and my first job there was a buyer of small fasteners.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?
In our world, leaders like the Rale brothers, who were the founders of Danaher, which is a much larger version of what TriMas is. Based on good culture and good discipline, I think we can become what Danaher is today — a much larger but similar business model as TriMas.

What was your toughest business challenge?
Recognizing when you should no longer own a business. The reality is that businesses change, markets change and sometimes, the right decision for the company and its shareholders is to let one of the kids go.

When you manage a collection of businesses, you don’t always sell a company for a bad reason. You may have made it as valuable as you can. But those are still tough decisions when you come to the conclusion that one of the children has to leave the nest.

What is your greatest lesson learned?
Don’t overpay. When people look at business opportunities, they get very excited and they want to buy something for all the right reasons.

But it’s very easy to talk yourself into values that might be at too much of a premium. You must have discipline.

Describe your management style.
I’m a micro-understander, not micromanager. I really try to work as a partner to the people running our companies, who know those businesses very well.