Robert Black in Lehigh Valley Business Top Private Companies Feature
Our Vice President, Robert Black, was in Lehigh Valley Business’s Top 100 Private Companies. Bob was asked questions pertaining to his company’s culture and his secret ingredient to success.
What are the key ingredients in creating a great workplace culture?
My grandfather, Morris Black, had an expression: ‘While people are judged by the company they keep, so is a company judged by the people it keeps.’
We have long realized that our employees are our greatest assets, so creating a positive workplace culture begins with recruiting talented people with certain qualities and character traits and encouraging a professional atmosphere of mutual respect.
We are a 110-year-old, fifth-generation family business, and we work hard to foster a family environment for our co-workers. Our people enjoy working together, in pursuit of common, well-understood goals and a commitment to excellence.
Part of our mission statement reminds our co-workers to always practice the highest moral and ethical principles in everything they do.
What has been your recipe for success?
As a company, our business model has enabled us to be flexible. We are small enough to avoid the burden of excessive bureaucracy which might hinder timely decision-making; and we are large enough to be able to identify and pursue business opportunities as they arise.
Over the years, the business has changed and evolved continuously – it barely resembles the company that my grandfather or father ran.
I believe that our success is due, in part, to a very open and collaborative management style. At all levels, associates are considered equal participants in problem-solving and decision-making, as well as in continuous review of procedures and practices in every facet of our business.
Moreover, at the core of our business is a customer-centric philosophy. Everyone, from top down, understands – by continuous reinforcement – that we all work for our customers. And that mindset drives everything we do.
No one starts out as a master chef or top executive. Who has helped you along the way, and how?
I have been blessed, personally, to have had mentors, both in business and in life. My role model was my father [Samuel Black], who was a highly respected leader of our community and with whom I had the privilege of “learning under” during the early years of my career with Morris Black. He taught me, by example, the value of treating everyone equally with respect.
I have also been fortunate to learn from my business partner for over 40 years, Ron Black, who has taught me much about business through a conservative, analytical approach to developing our company.
What is your company’s training strategy/approach?
We employ many different types of people, with a wide range of skill sets, ranging from very specific, highly technical product knowledge to computer aided design and manufacturing engineering, to cabinet making, machine operation and finish carpentry. Each area within our company requires ongoing training to keep up with ever-changing products, applications, codes, etc. We are committed to enabling our co-workers to be the best they can be.
What’s on the menu the next year or two for you and/or your company?
We continue to be very bullish on the Lehigh Valley and anticipate significant growth opportunities over the next decade. As our senior management team (including me) ages, we are working hard on transition planning to ensure that we remain well-positioned for the future.
We are all committed to preserving and furthering the legacy of this family business, of which we are all very proud.
Lehigh Valley Business is the source for business news throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley area providing in-depth information and advice that is pertinent to the business executive. Morris Black Designs is honored to be featured in such a highly rated, local publication.