COLUMBIA CITY — “Working with my dad everyday is great and I love it.”
When Logan Williams was growing up, he always knew his father was working hard, running his own business in Whitley County. As an adult, he’s gained a whole new respect for the company and his father.
Williams, 26, is the son of Rick Williams, of Qualitex, who has been a business owner in Whitley County for 24 years.
Prior to Qualitex, Rick Williams owned Quality Inspection and Gage, a Columbia City company. Both provide gages and fixtures to a variety of industries, including automotive and medical.
As a child, Logan spent some time around his father’s shops, mowing grass and doing odd jobs, but never dove into the heart of the business.
“He never showed a big interest in the business,” Rick said.
Now, Logan is vice president of Qualitex, and is setting up his career to one day buy out the company from his father.
Being the owner of a small manufacturing company is rarely at the top of a young adult’s mind, but now that Logan is involved with the company, he says he’ll never have it any other way. Even better — he gets to spend every day with his father.
“I appreciate it now, but I really think I’ll appreciate it the most as I get older,” Logan said. “Most people graduate from high school and go off and do their own thing, and only see their parents on occasion or on holidays. I’m so glad I see him more often.”
Though his father has been a successful business owner for 2.5 decades, Logan said he never felt pressure to succeed his dad at Qualitex.
After high school, Logan attended Indiana University, where he studied sports management and marketing.
“I realized there weren’t a lot of opportunities in that career,” Logan said.
So, he returned home and took a job as the lowest-paid employee at Qualitex, working with Rick, who put him through extensive training.
“He could have easily walked in here and thought he’d get a desk and a job, but he put in the work necessary to get where he is,” Rick said. “My son or not, if he wasn’t putting in the work, then he wouldn’t be here.”
As a child, Logan knew his father spent many hours at work. Now, he knows first hand the hard work that went into running a business.
“He understands better where dad was at when he was younger. I wasn’t just out playing golf, I was working. He understands the stresses I had,” Rick said. “Business is hard. You don’t just wait for the money to come in. You have to be smart and make the right decisions.”
Rick began his career in manufacturing in 1986, part-time at a metal stamping facility while going to high school. As he grew older, he learned more about the line of work, and had aspirations of being his own boss.
“My parents were always entrepreneurs and I saw how hard they worked,” Rick said. “I didn’t want to leave my financial future in someone else’s hands.
He began Quality Inspection and Gage in 1993, when Logan was a toddler.
“I was married with two kids and just trying to survive,” Rick said. “Every day I had to hustle to bring home a paycheck.”
Being a business owner sometimes means paying employees more than yourself, taking financial risks and making decisions that can help or hurt the company.
“When I started, I was begging the bank for money and trying to get it going,” Rick said. “I thought I could make more money doing it on my own, but I had no clue about cash flow or lines of credit.”
After a lot of hard work and many grey hairs, Rick has built a foundation for Logan to build upon. Where Rick had to find his own way, Logan has guidance from his dad in his early entrepreneurship career.
Rick sold the assets for Quality Inspection and Gage in 2008, then got back into the industry in 2009 with Qualitex. Some customers that he had when he first started 24 years ago still have a relationship with Rick.
When Logan came to work at Qualitex in 2013, he went through a difficult, four-month training on a CMM machine. Now, he’s learning all aspects of the company, from engineering to sales and human resources.
“It can be difficult for fathers and sons to work together, but we have a mutual respect for each other,” Rick said. “We butt heads, we’re still father and son, but he wants to take the company in a direction that will suit him over time, but it’s still my baby.”
Logan plans to begin purchasing the business from his father in the next 10-15 years.
“Nobody will hand him anything,” Rick said. “I’ve worked my whole life to get us here.”
Rick said he’s seen several companies where fathers hand their businesses over to their sons, and they fail. He doesn’t see that happening with his son.
“He’s told me to pay some employees more than him because they’re worth it. That’s hard for a lot of business owners,” Rick said. “He watches industry trends and is monitoring what other people are doing. Now that he has the bug, I don’t think he could ever go work for someone else.”
Having his son involved in the business has taken a weight off of Rick’s shoulders.
Now, he’s more comfortable taking a break or going on vacation.
“I can take time off and know everything is in good hands,” Rick said. “This is Logan’s future.”
Logan’s maternal grandfather was also in manufacturing.
“Logan can have a future in this, and his sons can too,” Rick said. “Nobody dreams of building gages, but it’s given me a good living, and it will give Logan a good living too.”
Bringing a new perspective, Logan has updated the company’s website and made sure Qualitex has the best technology.
“It’s a fresh perspective,” Rick said. “And with me being 49 years old and the oldest guy in the building, we’re not stuck in our ways. The combination has worked really well for us.”
Rick is proud to see how his son has matured in the past four years, gaining respect from himself and the employees.
“Every decision or little thing I do is with the company’s best interest at heart,” Logan said. “I’ll work as many hours as I need to — it’s all about what’s best for the company.”
At the end of the day, Logan is especially happy to be working alongside his best mentor.
“We were close growing up, but I’m so blessed to be working with him now,” Logan said.
More than likely, the business will probably come up in conversation at Father’s Day dinner this Sunday.