Episode 20 – Seismic Shifts in a Family-Friendly Business
Doing business with other family-owned enterprises isn’t necessarily the rule, says Armour Valve’s Liz McBeth, but it brings an undeniable level of satisfaction when values come into alignment.
When Liz McBeth left San Francisco after the dot-com boom, it became increasingly clear to her that she was destined for a role in the family business. McBeth, who grew up in a household of entrepreneurs, is president of Armour Valve Ltd., a Toronto-based distributor of high-performance specialty valves used in heavy industries.
She recalls how her father, a former investment banker, was troubled by market volatility in certain industries and decided to diversify by “being involved in many of them.” That began in 1971, when Armour Valve was founded. From 1998 to 2007, McBeth ran her own business, McBeth Media, where she consulted small businesses and non-profits in the field of marketing and communications strategy. Now at the helm of second-generation Armour Valve, McBeth earned her stripes in her former role as the company’s marketing and business systems manager.
Integrity is a value she holds dear. “Reputation has to be formed on the service and the product that we deliver,” she says. “We have earned our reputation as a problem solver.” Meanwhile, as a woman in a male-centric industry, she takes her role in stride. “It has been an adjustment,” says McBeth, who has found strength in her mentors whom she identifies as her colleagues, past employers, academics and, of course, her family. Part of her success is her open-minded approach to tapping resources: “I guess when you have a learning culture, you have access to advice, and a culture of mentorship all around you.” McBeth recalls how, when it became clear her “career was going remain at Armour Valve,” she would form a leadership team to widen decision-making.
“The first transition along that path was to make decisions as a group rather than as a founder,” she says. “That was a seismic shift in how we approached planning, strategy and decision-making.” As for family enterprises, McBeth believes they matter because they often have values that align with her own family enterprise.
“We can make choices for different reasons than satisfying the requirements of a quarterly report. Over the years we found the companies that we work best with are also family-owned . . . because there is a certain understanding – not to say that we don’t work with other forms of businesses – but there is a really snug fit when it comes to two family businesses working together.”