Member Spotlight: Bruce Leska, Atlas Wire Corp.
Spotlight is a feature that focuses on a different FBC member every month. This month we introduce you to Bruce Leska of Atlas Wire Corporation.
Atlas Wire Corporation
FBC: Can you tell us a little history about your company and what you do?
Bruce: Atlas Wire Corporation manufactures electrical hook-up wire. The company insulates wire with PVC, Nylon, and Cross-Linked Polyethylene coatings to meet Underwriter's Laboratory ("UL") appliance, UL fixture, UL machine tool, Canadian Standards Association ("CSA"), automotive, and military specifications.
John R. Herley and three other shareholders acquired A-K Manufacturing Company in 1950. The Company subsequently changed its name to the Atlas Cable Corporation and then to Atlas Wire Corporation. Mr. Herley purchased the shares of his three partners over a period of years. The Company was originally located in Barrington, Illinois and subsequently moved to River Grove, Illinois. John W. Herley, the son of the founder, joined Atlas Wire in 1970 and became the Company's president in 1975. The Company moved to its present location in Schiller Park, Illinois in 1977. Schiller Park is conveniently located near Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, a transportation center for many major freight companies. The Company opened its Tucson manufacturing facility in 2000 to service maquiladoras in Mexico.
The Company's original customer base consisted of companies in the electronic and transformer industry that were predominant in Chicago during the 1950's and 1960's. Early customers included Motorola, Zenith, A.B. Dick, American Plasticraft and Hammond Organ. As the Company's original customer base moved away from Chicago, Atlas Wire refocused on selling its products to electronics distributors in the Chicago area and subsequently to electronics distributors nationwide. This sale of products outside of Chicago began in the mid-1980's.
FBC: Do you have any family members in the business?
Bruce: John W. Herely and his sister Virlyn Leitner are active in the business. John is the President and Virlyn is a board member. Bruce Leska is not part of the Herley family, but is a Board member and has day-to-day operational responsibility as the company Vice President.
FBC: What steps have you taken to make your company a success?
Bruce: Atlas's success has been due to a focus on customer needs. To succeed, we need to quickly ship high quality products, in the quantities requested, on the packages required, and at a price that allows both Atlas and our customers to make a profit. We have a willingness to meet specialized customer requests such as custom labeling, printing, testing, reporting, shipping and packaging.
We have continuously worked to improve the quality of our products and today have a quality system that is registered to both ISO 9001:2000 and ISO/TS 16949 standards.
Our workforce has worked hard to develop processes that allow us to manufacture smaller lots with quick deliveries and provide more package options. We can supply products on six inch plastic spools that hold 1,000 feet of wire or in 42 inch tall barrels that can hold 50,000 feet of wire.
The flexibility that we have in producing smaller to larger quantities allows our customers options that are critical in these times of fluctuating commodity markets. If customers feel that copper prices are likely to fall ... they can buy smaller quantities to meet only their current needs and if they feel that the prices are likely to rise ... they can buy larger quantities to be delivered before that increase.
FBC: How did you hear about the FBC?
Bruce: I received a mailing from the FBC. I was motivated to join because the concept of sharing thoughts and concerns with people outside of Atlas Wire appealed to me. Feedback from leaders in non-competing industries would be invaluable in helping me make future decisions.
FBC: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your Forum?
Bruce:The most rewarding aspect that I have gained from my forum is in hearing how other leaders handle issues within their businesses. I have been surprised at how similar the concerns are with people from very different industries. My forum members have shared experiences that have been helpful to me as a leader and as a person.
FBC: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Bruce: I like to spend time with my wife, our three beautiful daughters, and our friends! We have a cottage on Lake Beulah in Wisconsin where we fish, golf, ski, and enjoy sunsets together.
FBC: What one book would you recommend to your fellow FBC members?
Bruce:Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
FBC: Do you have a favorite song?
Bruce: My Wish by Rascal Flatts.
FBC: Name one person who had the biggest impact on you as a leader?
Bruce: I can't say that any one person has had the most impact. My father, my father-in-law, Tom Hillis, and John Herley have all had big impacts on my leadership style.
My father taught me the value of considering the other person's point of view. Armand Plaza, my father-in-law taught me the value of working hard. Tom Hillis and I coached our daughters in basketball and soccer. Tom taught me the value of enthusiasm when leading others. John Herley my mentor at Atlas Wire taught me the value of a laser-sharp focus.