Beverlee Dacey | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Beverlee Dacey

Background:  

A. Peter Fatse and his wife, Sylvia, started Amodex Products Inc. in 1958. Peter Fatse was a printer who wanted to invent something that would remove ink from hands and he and his wife began marketing Amodex Hand Cleaner to banks, industry and schools. In the 1970s, the product’s name was changed to Amodex Stain Remover for Hands & Fabrics. It is used to eliminate blood, food, grass, grease and ink stains.

Beverlee Dacey, the oldest of Peter and Sylvia’s three children, worked with her parents as a youngster but moved on to a career in academia, studying cultural anthropology and working in administration. She was called back to the family business in 2006 when her father got sick. Today, Dacey runs Amodex along with her four children – three sons and a daughter – who are all managers in the company. The Bridgeport-based company was named Connecticut Family-Owned Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration for 2017.

The Mistake:

Convincing myself that I had to stay at the business and run it like a plant manager. That hurt us for my first few years as president. Lots of things didn’t go well for me, including the recession. I realize now that not having the perspective of looking from the outside in was causing me to make more mistakes. I had to learn to delegate and accept that there would be some small mistakes while I was out learning.

My career might be testimony for the merits of a good liberal arts education. It trains you for life and made me versatile. [But] I went against that in virtually locking myself in the factory. When I took over we were in survival mode. It was an all-consuming effort. I developed tunnel vision. When that happens you stagnate and your business stagnates. You need to make time to get out and see what’s happening in your industry and the world—and that’s what I did.

What I learned was how little I knew.

The Lesson:

When I decided to get out of the office, that’s when the business began moving in a good direction. We needed to move to a new building and take the business to its next level.

I met people in the Bridgeport economic development office about finding a new building. Knowledge of resources has been flooding to me ever since. I got a Connecticut Small Business Express loan. I learned about the Connecticut Small Business Office. I learned about urban enterprise tax credits and the Women’s Business Development Council. ConnStep helped us design our factory.

What I learned was how little I knew.

Business comes with a lot of complexities and it’s important to be able to free up your brain and take stock of where you are and where you’re going. My business is a re-startup, meaning it has all the issues of a startup. The biggest challenge for entrepreneurs is being “it” all the time. If they confine themselves, then they’re limiting the business.

Photo courtesy of Beverlee Dacey.

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