Family-owned businesses are the cornerstone of the U.S. economy. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 90% of U.S. businesses are family-owned. Perlick knows a little bit about being a family business. Since 1917, Perlick has been family-owned and headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1917, Robert K. Perlick, a young German immigrant, started the R. Perlick Brass Works. Over the next five generations the Perlick family, along with many dedicated associates, has grown the business into a global manufacturing leader in commercial bar and beverage systems, premium residential refrigeration and brewery fittings.
Family-focused in Florida
As a family-run business, we love working with other businesses that are local and family-owned. Today, we highlight EATON Marketing, one of our rep groups, based in Clearwater, Florida. Eaton Marketing is a restaurant equipment supplier servicing Florida for more than 25 years. Eaton strives to be industry leaders by establishing valued relationships with both their customers and their manufacturers.
Kevin Eaton is President of the company and took some time to speak with us about family-owned businesses, and his thoughts on the state of the industry. Kevin and his sisters bought the company from their parents 9 years ago and have grown the business in multiple ways: Tripling sales and doubling the size to 25 employees!
Perlick: What makes Eaton special and sets you apart in the industry?
Kevin: I think that commitment to our customers is what sets us apart. We have a “Yes We Can” attitude at all times. We are one of the only groups with a full-time service manager. We monitor a service issue from the first call to completion. We also try to give the customer what we like to call “The Amazon Experience.” We give customers updates on their order status on a routine basis, so they always know where their order stands, and we track it for them when it ships.
Perlick: Like Perlick, you are a family-owned and run business. Tell us a little bit about that structure, and why it is important.
Kevin: Family is everything. The great thing about working with family is that you must resolve your differences quickly, whether they are personal or business-related. We never want business and personal to bleed into each other, so when there is an issue we fix it quickly, so our company issues never ruin Thanksgiving dinner.
Perlick: Does that “family” aspect make you like working with a fellow family-owned company like Perlick? What else do you like about working with Perlick installers and products?
Kevin: It absolutely makes working with Perlick better, as we have a direct line of communication to the heart of the company. Back when Perlick first brought us on, the requirement of picking up the line was that the owner of Eaton Marketing have a succession plan and that the owner’s son or daughter is a part of that plan. They believed that family would always do their best to support family, and ultimately support the factory with great sales numbers.
“We Have Fun”
Perlick: In the “About” section of your website it says, “We have fun.” How important is that, especially after the challenging year we have all had?
Kevin: We have a saying that we say pretty frequently in a joking manor. We say, “We may burn this company to the ground but we’re going to have fun doing it!” Life is too short for uptight stuffy people or situations. If you love your job and the people you work with, it will be fun.
Perlick: We all had to pivot during the pandemic, and things are still not back to “normal.” Is business normalizing somewhat for Eaton? Are there new practices that started during COVID that you will be keeping?
Kevin: We took time during Covid to revamp our company structure. We elevated Bob Saraceno to Director of Sales and Kelli Flowers to Director of our Inside Support Team. We implemented a new EOS called Traction, this has made us more organized and focused as a company and as a leadership team. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! We learned that communication within our group is one of the most important keys to our success as a team and that lesson is here to stay.
Perlick: Everyone loves to hear about trends. What’s hot right now in your industry, and anything coming down the pipeline we should know about?
Kevin: Well, we live in Florida and everyone knows that Florida lives by its own rules. Just Kidding! The Florida leadership did a great job in how they handled the pandemic. They constantly analyzed the data and made educated decisions on what the next steps were. This allowed us to get back to normal at a faster rate. We are blessed to have started to resemble a “normal”, or pre-Covid order intake rate.
As a century-old business, we can say that Eaton is doing all the right things to continue thriving. Thanks for being a great partner, and we cannot wait to see what the next century holds!