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Wisconsin based Handi Products has been owned and operated by Thom Disch since 1995. Expanding from 3 full-time employees to nearly 50 across two locations, Handi Products has found their business is becoming cash restricted and therefore limited in their growth. In need of help, they solicited the advice of Marcus Lemonis.

Handi Products splits their business evenly between three main product lines: accessibility products, slip and fall prevention, and material handling. Upon reviewing their company and products Marcus recognizes that there are several issues could be damaging Handi Products’ sales and revenue:

  • They need to identify and enter new markets
  • Their packaging and on-product branding does not match each other or the company’s brand as a whole
  • They run their business out of two names: Handi Products and Stop the Spill which can cause market confusion
  • Their slip and fall line of products does not do very well because they do not have a clear distributor into this market

Another complicating factor for Handi Products is that Thom’s son, Alex, is also an employee of the company. Thom and Alex have major communication issues and Thom often dismisses Alex’s ideas which lead to tension and workplace stress. Thom is very conflict avoidant, not only with his son but with the rest of the company as well. This has lead to allowing two locations to remain open when one location is adequate for the needs of the company. By allowing two locations to remain open to suit the commute of a few employees, the company is hemorrhaging money on the second location. Handi Products are financially confined by the second location making it impossible to buy additional raw materials, to take the chance in a new market or go to trade shows.

Thom’s conflict avoidance causes a ripple effect throughout the company. Not only does he ignore his son and allows a second location to remain open, but he also does not hold any of the employees accountable for their work and actions. Their VP of Operations, Eva, is very frustrated about this. From the top down, the leaders are all friends with their teams and therefore do not hold their staff accountable for their work. It is a major problem throughout the entire company. There are no consequences for anyone. There is no company handbook so the staff makes their own rules. The employees need to have structure and rules. Marcus pushes Thom, as the owner of the business, to address this issue.

Although the company needs significant improvements, Marcus is investing in Handi Products because he feels there is a much bigger market then where they are playing right now. He believes that they have barely scratched the surface of the company’s capabilities. He also likes that they are a socially responsible company and their mission is to make things safer and more accessible for people. After some discussion, Marcus agrees to invest $2 million in Handi Products for 30% ownership of the business.

Because one of their major issues are their cash restrictions, Marcus proposes that they close the second location as soon as possible to free up cash. He also tasks Thom with figuring out how the company is going to be branded and marketed. In order to increase brand recognition and therefore sales, they need to have a more consistent brand and brand message. Marcus also wants them to look into new markets and product lines while simultaneously improving current product lines.

Handi Products took most of these suggestions to heart and worked on improving communication, making product and packaging upgrades as well as finalizing an employee handbook. Thom struggled with creating a cohesive brand that was adequately represented in their product, packaging, and marketing. Marcus grows frustrated with Thom and forces the efforts to be taken to an outside firm to ensure that the rebranding is handled appropriately. Marcus feels that Handi Products made a lot of progress in their product modifications and to the proposed changes in the businesses. He is very pleased with how far they have come and their future potential.

What do you think about how Thom and Alex were interacting with each other? What tips do you have for running a successful family-owned business? Start the conversation in the comments!

“The Profit” airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. on CNBC.

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