Dampp-Chaser Wins NC Family Business of the Year
President of Dampp-Chaser, Gayle Mair says “Our employees are the heart of the company. Policies and decisions are based the principles of honesty, creativity, and community and diversity.” Dampp-Chaser manufactures a humidity-control device for pianos, storage areas, gun safes, and for other instances where humidity protection for a valuable item is needed. The original device was invented by a former merchant marine in 1947. Robert Mair,Gayle’s father, purchased the company in 1984, and made engineering improvements to the original design. Today, over 85% of sales are from the Piano Life Saver System, a humidity-control device that keeps pianos on pitch and can double their life span. Their niche product sells worldwide and is endorsed by all major piano manufacturers, like Steinway, Baldwin, and Yamaha.
As happens more often than not with the next generation, Gayle had no thoughts of joining her father’s business. She graduated with a degree in geology from Syracuse University and had her own career designs. After 15 years of success spanning petroleum exploration to project management experience in the environmental industry managing budgets of several million dollars, she opted to bring her talents from Colorado to support the family business. Gayle’s husband, Roger Wheelock brought his financial analysis expertise, MBA, and experience in a variety of technical fields to the business, as product testing and documentation became vital to the company’s further success.
Gayle and Roger joined Dampp-Chaser in 1995, and Gayle became president when her father retired in 2003. Under their leadership, productivity increased and costs and employee turnover decreased. Gayle believes that successful change must come from the bottom up. She encourages employees to experiment with ways to improve efficiency, promotes from within, and implements suggestions from customers.Gayle may not have dreamed of keeping pianos stable as a little girl, but today, is proud of Dampp-Chaser and is putting processes in place to ensure a sustainable business for the next generation. Go to Dampp-Chaser website.
The North Carolina Family Business Awards, presented by the Wake Forest University Family Business Center and media sponsor Business North Carolina, are designed to recognize the achievements of family-owned businesses and their contributions to their communities.
In addition to business success, entries are judged on the following criteria:
• Innovative Business Strategies and Practices
• Business Growth and New Development
• Contributions to Community and Industry
• Involvement by Different Family Members and Generations
• Commitment to Family Well-Being and Keeping the Business in the Family
Awards are given in up to four categories (based on number of employees): Small, Medium, Large and Century Award (Family Business at least 100 years old).Dampp-Chaser won in the small business category. Last year the Biltmore Company won the Century Award.
Make plans to attend the Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 2nd at the Byrum Welcome Center on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. The evening will start with a heavy hors d’oeuvres reception at 6 pm, followed by the Awards program at 7 pm.
Welcome! Feel like working with your family is last thing you want to do today, but cannot bear the thought of leaving? Then you landed in the right place.
The UNC Asheville Family Business Forum with the Strategic Partners is a resource to help business owners' maximizes the overall well-being of their business and to transition successfully to the next generation. The Family Business Forum is the only ongoing professional development and awareness-raising environment specifically designed for family owned and closely held businesses.
Guided by its members and supported by the Strategic Partners the Family Business Forum presents programs and activities that are meaningful and relevant to the membership. The programs originate from member feedback, hot topics of the moment, and other scientific methods family businesses put to use. Not many of us get it right the first time, so it helps to hear what the others are doing. Go to Resources to see videos of FBF past programs and speakers. Be my guest at any one program to see if the Family Business Forum is right for you.
The Family Business Forum offers free membership to UNC Asheville students and their families who have family owned businesses. Programs are once a month from September to May.