The Konrady crew truly believes that family must come first in any family-owned business.
“One of my commitments to myself throughout my business career was to never, ever bring in a family member just to bring in a family member,” said Bernie Konrady, founder of the business along with his wife, Sue. “I encouraged them to pursue their own lives. If they developed a fire in their belly for what we do, they are welcome.”
Today, son Paul Konrady, who is president and COO, has been with the company about 10 years, and daughter Leah joined the leadership team in January of 2020 as CEO.
“We all made a very strong commitment that our relationship comes first, and we don’t want anything to come between us as a family,” Leah said. “We had tough conversations up-front and along the way to make sure that we preserve our relationships.”
The family business began with Bernie and Sue taking over Gary-based Nering Plastics in 1981. The couple cultivated the company from its roots as a plexiglass sheet distributor and beyond by adding the manufacturing of machined plastic parts. The company moved to Portage in the early 1990s as more space was needed.
Over the years, they have invested in the latest equipment, most recently a robotic arm for one of the company’s many CNC machines, as well as fostered a commitment to customers and employees.
“Every week, we are faced with a challenge regarding a vendor, customer or production. We have a good team, and we tackle challenges head-on,” Paul said. “There is so much value in listening to others with ideas to help land on a spot where you can make a decision and work around challenges. I truly enjoy working with everybody here.”
Pushing through Covid has spotlighted the importance of family and teamwork.
“Our challenges have been very similar to everyone else. It has taught us the ability to adapt as quickly as possible and be responsive to the needs around us,” Leah said. “As a company, we had gone through the process of identifying family values that are the culture here at Konrady: approachable, adaptable, accountable, hard-working and honest. We live by those and hire and fire by those.
“We discovered over the years that we are too big to be run by one person: the emphasis is on team. Paul and I both said to each other, we could not do this without the other. Our skill sets are yin and yang, and we balance each other out.”
“One of my joys is seeing the momentum and high priority of teamwork carried to and through the organization,” Bernie added. “I was used to previously running the business on my own. I enjoy seeing the teamwork process being brought to our organization. You really see great results when you have good people acting with ‘team’ in mind.”
Bernie Konrady, owner; Paul Konrady, president and COO; Leah Konrady, CEO
1780 Coppes Court in Portage