Leading a family business requires laser focus on building a strong company culture, says Austin Ramirez, president & CEO of HUSCO International, Inc.

Ramirez, who serves on the AEM Board of Directors and whose father, Augustin, was inducted into the AEM Hall of Fame in 2014, talks about how his Waukesha, Wisconsin-based firm maintains its edge in an ever-changing global economy.

Q. HUSCO International has a long history of technical innovation. How do you nurture and encourage new ideas within your company?

A. The single most important responsibility in my role as CEO is to foster the development of HUSCO’s Human Capital. Insuring that HUSCO has the best talent in our industry means we must be world-class in recruiting, compensating and developing our employees, but the area that I focus on most is building a strong culture.

In particular, we strive to be an organization that values intelligent risk-taking, practical innovation and an expectation of high performance from all associates. These values are deeply ingrained within HUSCO’s DNA and will continue to drive our success far into the future.

Q. Market volatility seems to be increasing. How has HUSCO succeeded in adapting to marketplace ups and downs?

A. The recession in 2008/9 was extraordinarily severe but our industry has always been a volatile one. We have two fundamental strategies that allow us to thrive despite the cyclicality of our industry.

First, we maintain a strong balance sheet, diversified product mix, lean organization and capital-efficient operating model to minimize the impact of economic cycles on our business. Second, we view economic downturns as an opportunity to leapfrog our competitors by maintaining investments in new product development while the rest of the industry is cutting back.

The recent recession is an excellent example – we maintained key technology investments despite a 50% reduction in global revenue. The results speak for themselves with 2014 revenues nearly double pre-recession levels and significantly improved market share in all key segments.

Q. HUSCO also has a tremendous record of giving back to the community, especially in the area of education. Why is this so important?

A. The Ramirez family business philosophy is deeply rooted in our Christian faith and our shared belief that we must use HUSCO’s success to be a blessing to others. Although we focus intensely on growth and the achievement of outstanding financial performance, the ultimate objective of our success is not only to build a great business but to make the world a better place.

Q. Augustin “Gus” Ramirez was inducted into the AEM Hall of Fame in 2014. What is the importance of this honor from a company standpoint?

A. Gus’s induction into the AEM Hall of Fame was a testament both to his incredible career and to the enduring legacy he built at HUSCO. The entire HUSCO team takes great pride in this honor and we understand our role in continuing to expand the business success and civic-mindedness that Gus so effectively modeled throughout his career.

Q. How do industry organizations like AEM help HUSCO in achieving its business goals?

A. Industry organizations play a critical role in HUSCO’s success and we have executives volunteering on the Boards of AEM, NFPA, OESA and NAM. These organizations serve as HUSCO’s voice on important issues in Washington, D.C., and help us build relationships with key leaders across the various sectors in which we do business.

Our company and our industry benefit in significant and direct ways as a result of the support of AEM.

Austin Ramirez Reflects on His Career at HUSCO International