that’s a fine fifty

These days in the marine industry, it is difficult to find any business model that is sustainable.  But in Bay City Michigan, there is one such place that has made excellent happen for 50 years.  Last Saturday evening August 3rd, there was a celebration of this  half century of excellence at the Gougeon Brothers/West Systems Epoxy headquarters.

Several of the early notables were there, along with the 2nd and 3rd generation of Gougeons ensuring those who gathered that they would be carrying on the tradition well into the future years to come.  Spirits and food flowed freely, great times and smiling faces were all abound, and the festive atmosphere was enjoyed by all in attendance.

Several parts were of particular importance.  Of course, we all missed Jan and Meade.  But after Joe Gougeon took us through a journey of the first 40 years, CEO Alan Gurski and John Thomas shared what has been going on over the last 10 years to get to this point.  Highlights from this are during the great economic recession of 2008-11(ish) The Gougeon Brothers laid not one single one of their employees off, and only lost 15% of their marketplace.  Treating employees as family and human beings instead of the bottom line is what makes this company stand out like it does.
This came from their early years when working on wind turbine blades and Meade had to go up to their nearby factory and lay off 150 workers.  He swore he would never do that again.  They spoke of celebrating 40 years, and throwing a great party for that celebration, they spoke of having a waiter spill drinks all over a new suit and then standing up for the employee who was getting the business, harshly, from his bosses, they spoke of Jan passing away, and again throwing a celebration of his life with an 8k bar tab.
When Meade passed on just a couple of years ago, a celebration of his life was summoned, and the bar tab was around 10k.  As Alan put it, there’s a theme here… but more than anything, the theme of treating people well and decent, like human beings, rang throughout.
Here’s to another 50 years of success and making excellent happen to the Gougeon Brothers family and West Systems Epoxy! – Anarchist Bruce.