When Mathew Andis began making clippers in 1922, he most likely did not foresee a company that would grow, innovate and engage the next three generations of his family. Andis Company, based in Racine, Wisconsin, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and though almost everything about the products and reach of the company has changed, the dedication of the Andis family has not.
Andis was succeeded by his son Matthew G. Andis, an engineer who developed new products and began exporting clippers and trimmers. His son Matthew L. Andis took over as president in 1971 during an era that celebrated long hair on women and men and brought challenges to the clipper business. Andis responded by expanding into irons, hair dryers and other styling tools as well as large and small animal grooming tools.
Today, the company ownership and management is shared by the fourth generation of the Andis family. Matthew K. Andis, president, concentrates on sales and operations; Laura Andis-Bishop, senior vice president of finance, is responsible for IT, finance and human resources and Marcia Andis, senior vice president market development, oversees marketing, engineering and Asia markets.
The three Andis siblings spent summers working at the company. According to Matt Andis, they were given no choice in that, but were encouraged to pursue different academic paths and other jobs before deciding to join the Andis Company. Family businesses have their own set of unique issues. “Family is always tied in and can get in the way,” says Marcia Andis. To help navigate these issues, Matt Andis began working with an organization that coaches individuals in family-owned businesses on working together, staying on the same page and securing a succession plan. For the Andis Company, that means preparing the way for the fifth generation. “We were encouraged to do this and were referred to the Loyola Family Business Center by the late Leo Passage, founder of Pivot Point,” says Andis. “We each have our own coach and we work individually and together to foresee and solve problems, “he says.
As a large employer in a relatively small community, Andis Company has its share of multi-generational employees. Nancy McDougal joined the company in 1978 and has received a series of promotions to her current position of material handling supervisor. Her son, Bobby McIntosh joined the company 23 years ago and his daughter Brittney McIntosh was hired in June as an assembler.
“Andis Company affects many families, not just our own,” says Matt Andis and keeping the family environment through company-wide bonds is a management priority. Employees are invited to participate in cost saving “huddles,” and with everyone empowered to contribute suggestions, many tangible savings have been realized. “We have not had to eliminate any jobs, in fact, our work force has actually grown, “says Matt Andis. Andis employees also come together in charitable efforts and have been recognized by the Racine community for contributions to United Way and for their continued support of a local food bank. Andis Company sponsors cosmetology scholarships at the local community college and supports the Racine County 4H, recognizing the future farmers who groom their prize livestock with Andis clippers.
What’s in the Andis future after 90 years of success? According to Matt Andis it is to keep the moving forward with new innovations and ideas. “You can’t be risk-averse. We are reinvesting in new equipment now and are preparing for our future needs. Small industry is evolving and needs to be more progressive. Our core values of excellence, integrity and respect are what we focus on to keep the company secure for the next generation.”
Marcia Andis, Matt Andis and Laura Andis, the fourth generation of the Andis family, with a sampling of the 90 year old company's clippers and styling appliances. Photo by Elizabeth Yong