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Fostering a Sense of Ownership 

Penny Hutner
President and CEO
Advance Tabco

In the United State, the average lifespan of a family-owned business is 24 years. And while 40 percent of those operations transition over to second-generation businesses, a mere 3 percent survive to a fourth generation

or beyond. Advance Tabco Inc., is one of the companies that beat the odds to remain in business under the fourth generation of family ownership. This is an impressive feat, seeing how small that specific pool of enterprises really is.

“Leading a fourth-generation manufacturing company in any industry is a feat,” says Penny Hutner, president and CEO. “The main and only goal is to ensure the company thrives on your watch and that it’s ready for the next generation to lead. I can say we’re on the right track.”

Strong Mentors Along the Way
With a degree in finance, Hutner entered the business emphasizing sales and credits her parents, Milton and Alice Schwartz, for passing on everything they knew about operational strategy, finance, manufacturing and sales. She also acknowledges her successful decades-long partnership with her brother, Danny Schwartz, as a major strength for Advance Tabco.

Along the way, Hutner received good advice from mentors like Louise O’Sullivan (Groen Corp., Prime Advantage) and Ira Kaplan (Servolift Eastern, Aalex Corp.) She watched how others navigated industry events and credits her exceptional relationship with many dealers in the industry for their words of wisdom. “There are too many to name,” she adds.

The company’s headquarters are in Hauppauge, New York, but a key growth driver has been expanding manufacturing operations across multiple states, with facilities now in Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina. This commitment to geographic expansion has helped Advance Tabco gain access to a broader and potentially more competitive labor pool while also reducing risk. “It’s also minimized our exposure to hazardous weather conditions and ensures that we’re always up and running,” Hutner says.

Empowering Team Members
In today’s competitive business landscape, companies are constantly seeking ways to engage and motivate their workforces. One powerful strategy that’s often overlooked is fostering a sense of ownership among employees. This, of course, goes well beyond just assigning tasks; it’s about cultivating an environment where individuals feel invested in the success of the organization and empowered to contribute their best.

Advance Tabco’s leadership team strives to empower manufacturing team members to foster a sense of ownership. “These are the people who do the heavy lifting,” Hutner says. “They find solutions to day-to-day obstacles, suggest manufacturing improvements and work with their in-house teams to give our customers the best service and highest quality products.” 

Ultimately, Hutner knows that when you “love what you do” the feeling can be downright contagious. She also believes in the importance of persistence, drive and envisioning yourself as a leader in the future. “These cliches are some of the best tools to have in your arsenal as a leader,” she adds.

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