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Stay Positive, Stay Curious, Stay Kind: How a Third-Generation Family Business Has Reimagined Its Operations — and Is Playing a Role in Bringing Manufacturing Back to the United States with Michael Araten, President and CEO of Sterling Drive Ventures

By Jeremy Weisz posted 01-26-2022 04:00 AM


Just as talent became a budding topic during the pandemic, supply chain issues similarly weighed heavy on people’s minds — and businesses. In this episode of The Leading Edge, you’ll hear how one company has managed its suppliers and distributors through all the twists and turns of the last two years — and what you can learn from its success.

When the pandemic first hit, a report by the National Center for the Middle Market indicated that the #1 area where executives felt least effective — and least able to control — was the supply chain. Michael Araten, who runs a third-generation family manufacturing company, felt the same. With pressure to uphold a business that’s been around since the late ‘50s, Araten knew he had to become flexible in order to survive. Within two weeks, Araten had a plan for change: he carved out space to meet the needs of the public, created molds for COVID-19 testing swabs, and changed 30% of his product. Now, as “normal” continues to be an elusive word, he has managed to avoid the supply-chain hassles from which so many other companies have suffered, and brought significant manufacturing capabilities back onshore from overseas. How did he do it? 

By staying positive, kind, and curious, Araten was able to build optionality into his business and make a lasting impact on the manufacturing industry. On top of this, Araten says his major shift wouldn’t have been possible without key long-term relationships and a strong focus on the future. Araten talks about this and more as he joins Thomas A. Stewart on The Leading Edge — a place where new ideas emerge and are sharpened, and where leaders look to find the edge that brings success for themselves, their teams, and their enterprises.

In this episode of The Leading Edge, Thomas A. Stewart is joined by Michael Araten, President and CEO of Sterling Drive Ventures, to discuss how Araten’s family-owned business transformed itself during the pandemic. Together, they talk about the steps Araten took to keep his company afloat, the trends and challenges of reshoring manufacturing, and why catastrophes are a reason to double-down on your business values, not cut them back.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you will learn:

  • Michael Araten shares the details behind his third-generation family business
  • Araten discusses how his company became more flexible during the pandemic — and helped out global healthcare partners — and has turned agility into an enduring capability
  • How Araten combatted supply chain issues
  • The challenges and trends of reshoring
  • What is the key to attracting and developing talent in the manufacturing space?
  • Araten’s hopes for the industry: emphasis on Buy American and energy-efficient policies
  • Sterling Drive Venture’s biggest priorities for the coming years
  • What should manufacturers start — and stop — doing?

About Our Guest:

Michael Araten Michael Araten is the President and CEO of Sterling Drive Ventures, a family holding company that manufactures plastic injection molding products for B2B and B2C markets, medical devices, food and pharma packaging, toys, and more. Araten also holds executive positions at The Rodon Group (Sterling Drive Ventures’ manufacturing division), SillDry Industries, LLC, and StartEngine — the largest equity crowdfunding platform in the US.

Araten has played a key role in his community as a board member for various organizations, including the Almo Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, and KABOOM! He’s also on the Board of Trustees for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode:

The Leading Edge is brought to you by AchieveNEXT. 

AchieveNEXT empowers individuals, teams, and enterprises to meet ambitious growth goals through our powerful combination of peer-to-peer learning and solutions.

We bring together thousands of the top finance and HR leaders from across North America to connect and share business and industry insights through our Alliance Networks.

We empower individuals, teams and enterprises through powerful solutions which include 

- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training & Leadership Development 

- Business Relationship Training

and Executive Coaching for individuals and teams.

This powerful combination helps today’s business leaders level up and achieve next-level growth.

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