Membership Spotlight: Dan Falotico, Jr.
Chicago Family Business Council: What year was your company founded?
Dan Falotico, Jr.: Our company was established in 1944 by Mr. Haas and Mr. Kristensen. That is where the name Haskris comes from.
CFBC: Tell us a little bit of the history behind the company?
DF: Haas & Kristensen originally teamed up to form a contracting business that performed service and installation of refrigeration equipment. That changed in 1956 when Philips Electronics introduced the first electron microscope into North America. The microscope was designed to be cooled by water. Philips hired Haskris to design and manufacture a refrigerated water cooling system (known as a “water chiller”) to cool down their new technology. At that point, that’s when we got into manufacturing. Fast forward to 1970, my father was hired into the company. He took ownership in 1972. He evaluated the business and decided to wind down the contracting side and focus on manufacturing. As more technologies were developed in the 60’s-80’s we became a specialty designer for the water chillers. I entered the scene in 1990. I assumed ownership of the business from my family in 1999 and have been running it since. Today, we design and manufacture water chillers that support the most advanced laboratory and medical instruments in the world, including electron microscopes, high powered x-ray equipment, MRI/CT scanners, lasers and semiconductor tools.
CFBC: Are there any family members who work with you in the business?
DF: Yes, I have a sister, Janine Morton, and my brother Paul who both work here.
CFBC: How did you hear about the CFBC and what motivated you to join?
DF: One of the founding sponsors of the Family Business Council was our primary contact that introduced us to the organization. We were in the council in its first year. At that time, I was in a successor forum. It was great exposure into other companies. It was the first time I had ever been in a peer group that involved people in such similar situations as me. It was a unique opportunity and learning experience. When I took over Haskris, I joined my current forum, Sigma.
CFBC: How has CFBC helped your company succeed?
DF: Well, I have intentionally tried to be in forums with people who are older than me who have already experienced things I am currently going through. Learning from other people’s experience is incredibly valuable. It has given me a chance to see how other people have dealt with similar challenges to mine and to consider resolutions that I might not otherwise have been exposed to. My forums have been a catalyst for new ideas. I always tell people, you don’t hit a grand slam at every forum meeting. But over the course of the year, there are some key ideas that are presented or raised at a forum committee meeting that lead your company down a different path and make a huge difference.
CFBC: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your experience with your forum and the CFBC?
DF: I guess I would not look at just one aspect. I would look at my overall experience. I found great comfort in having a forum there when I needed them. I have had problems just like everyone in the forums. Sometimes there is not always a right or wrong answer. I appreciate having a group of guys I can rely on and really open up to, a place where I put all my cards on the table and have my forum members weigh in when I have to make the really tough decisions.
I also appreciate the shared experiences. In forums you get a lot of experienced people that challenge your thinking and help you to make sure the decisions you are making are the right ones. It’s like having an outside board of directors.
CFBC: Name one person who had the biggest impact on you as a leader?
DF: My father. My father is solely responsible for creating the culture of the company which is rooted in what we call the “ultimate employee experience.” Our philosophy here is to try to find people of high character and put them in a position in the company where they can pursue their passion. When people of high character are passionate about what they do they are self-motivated and self-directed. That simple philosophy is at the root of our success. Everything, all the growth, creativity, and productivity emanates from happy people. I learned from my dad to put people first.
CFBC: Describe your ideal customer?
DF: We look for partnerships with customers who value the entirety of what we have to offer. We are not a commodity manufacturer building standard product in high volume at the lowest price. Our expertise is in custom design, build-to-order manufacturing and lifetime support of our products. Our cooling systems support mission critical equipment. If we fail, they fail. We look for customers that need a high quality product and dependable, responsive support … and are willing to pay for it. Those are the companies that stay with us.
CFBC: What are your plans for the future?
DF: My long term plan is to pass the business along to the third generation. In the shorter term, our focus is simple … to continue doing what we love to do … and finding new niche applications that can benefit from our expertise. Our focus is not on getting big, but building quality long term customer relationships. In our 56 year history we have never lost a major OEM customer. Our first customer from 1956, Philips Electronics, is still a customer today. We understand where we fit in the world and we stick to it.