My father started Caster Concepts, Inc. after completing an illustrious career that included COO of Hayes Albion, a publicly traded company, which he left in 1965 to become the President of Albion Industries. After 18 years in that leadership role he found himself at 65 years old and without a job. He lost his job due to mandatory retirement policies of Household Finance who was the owner of Albion Industries at that time. After a miserable two years my father, at 67 years old, decided he would start a manufacturing company by the name of Caster Concepts. He recruited a VP of Sales, Jack Turner and two other investors, myself and my brother. Starting with a very modest investment by all parties, Caster Concepts was born.
It was not clear to me why my father took on this task at that point in his life but over the years his purpose has become clearer to me. He was wired to be driven and had to channel that energy in some direction. He was not wealthy but certainly he was comfortable. I believe he was lonely (due to the death of my mother) and he sought a purpose in life. He loved a good challenge and he felt that owning his own business was an unfulfilled dream for him. He needed a purpose to get up every morning and he found that with Caster Concepts.
He literally never took any money out of the business until it had been in existence for over 10 years, was clearly successful and everyone else had been taken care of. This business was never about him. He was a stickler to never get over leveraged and would frequently discuss “what is the last way out”, he was clearly conservative. He would preach of the importance of quality relationships with vendors and felt strongly that we had no right to “finance the business on the backs of our vendors” while adding “if we can’t go to the bank and get money, we should not be in business”. He frequently provided personal guarantees to fund the business during the early growth.
The most amazing thing that my father did when he started his own company? He cleaned the bathrooms. No money in the budget for that and he felt good businesses kept their restrooms clean. When I was a very young boy and would go to Albion Malleable (prior to Hayes Albion) on Saturday morning he would give me and my brother a lesson on how you leave the bathroom and especially the sinks clean after using them. A corporate executive at publicly traded company cleaning bathrooms in his retirement ….and….. thrilled to be doing it.
It is for these reason and many more that we have an annual celebration of Founders Day –My Father’s Birthday. He told me many times to never forget where you came from, never forget what got you here. He never forgot that he grew up in the depression and never took any of his responsibilities or blessing for granted. He would be very proud of the company that Caster Concepts has evolved into AND if he was here, he would check the cleanliness of the bathrooms before giving the final “Good Job!!”
Richard H. Dobbins 1921-2007 –Founder of Caster Concepts, Inc.