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Lacie Lutz is a second-generation business owner at C&C Industries. She has the unique experience of seeing her family business form from its humble beginnings. Her insights and advice about the industry are what you'd expect from the now Director of Sales and Marketing — honest and heartfelt. Working in the family business since she was a little girl, Lutz had a backstage pass to all the ins and outs of running a successful company. She spoke with me about her personal history in the industry, her advice to newbies, and what she's most proud of as the next generation at C&C Industries.
Danielle Galian: Tell me a little but about your background?
Lacie Lutz: I started dealing with oilfield fittings when I was about 5 or 6 years old. My Dad, Dale Lutz, was selling surplus inventory from our garage and I helped him with the inventory counts. When I was 16 I started helping my Dad out at C&C. He had just started the company with his partner KC Chin. I would work at the office (free of charge) during my school breaks. After high school I pursued higher education. I worked part time while going to school. My Dad asked me to stop going to school and work full time. I never hesitated. Looking back I have no regrets about that. I couldn’t have chosen a better course in life. What I learned from watching my Dad and his partner build a company from the ground up is invaluable. There is no college course, book or trade school that could teach the things that I learned here. Entrepreneurialism is a state of mind; it’s a way of life. It is hard to teach something like that unless you see it first hand – and I had front row seats.
DG: What attracted you to this business/industry?
LL: Relationships. It is one of the many things that persuaded me to choose this field. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in accounting or on the sales desk. Relationships are a big part of our industry. Relationships have been a key role in C&C’s success. We believe that people buy from people.
DG: What are you most proud of at C&C Ind.?
LL: There are so many aspects of C&C that I’m proud of. It would be impossible to narrow it down to any one thing. But, when I look at C&C as a whole I see the blood, sweat and tears poured into this place. My Dad and KC started something that had such power and momentum that we soon became unstoppable. Each person they hired on cared about C&C as if it were their own. It was obvious that C&C was truly anointed. That’s what is most gratifying; seeing what these two men built with very little working capital and the need to feed their families — and then seeing that hard work payoff.
DG: I noticed there's a lot of camaraderie amongst those at C&C Ind.; how important is that to you?
LL: Extremely. No amount of money or talent can substitute camaraderie. Without camaraderie each man is for himself. It takes a team to be successful and each person at C&C has that team mentality. We all want C&C to succeed. We know that we have to work hard as a team and protect our “castle” to stay at the top. We also truly care about each other. Most of us have been here since the beginning and even the newbies become part of the family in no time. Each one of us here bleeds red and black. There is a very unique culture at C&C – one that I’m supremely proud of. It all goes back to our founders. What they instilled in each of us was a drive – this insatiable desire to make C&C, our team, number one.
DG: What makes C&C Ind. stand out from the competition?
LL: C&C has so many wonderful qualities. I would say customer service is one of our strongest suits. The way we service our customers is something like I’ve never seen before. It makes me laugh because in my personal life I sometimes expect this certain level of customer service that we give to our customers, but I don’t often receive that in my daily dealings. Each person here is humble and hungry. You have to be both to be great at customer service. We don’t want our customers to purchase something and think “that was a mediocre experience” we want them feeling so satisfied that they don’t want to shop elsewhere. When a customer calls it could be the VP or the CEO of C&C taking their sales call, but they would never know the difference. There are no egos here – just a true desire to please the customer.
DG: Who's your mentor?
LL: My parents. I can honestly say that my Dad is the coolest guy in the world. He is also the most charismatic person I’ve ever met. Ever since I was little he was teaching me and molding me with pep-talks, poetry and lessons in life. The way I see it now is that what he taught me and the experiences he shared with me are so much more valuable than any monetary gift. The things that he instilled will take me much further in life than any lump sum of cash could. For that I am forever grateful. He also gave me this great career opportunity and the tools to cultivate it. I know that sometimes kids working for their parents can come with a negative connotation. Typically the bosses’ kids are either the worst employee or the best. I’m not claiming to be either haha. I will say that anyone who knows my Dad knows there was no nepotism here. My father knew that if I didn’t earn my position that I would never be respected in the industry, especially as a female in the industry. My mom also taught me great guiding principles that have allowed me to excel in relationship building. Those fundamentals are also priceless.
DG: What can you tell me about the growth of the company?
LL: The growth of C&C is more than astounding. There were times that I didn’t realize how special C&C was. I guess when you’re here every day you just think it’s the norm. After hearing about other companies, and the reactions of others when heard about our double digit growth year after year, I realized that C&C is exemplary. We’re the exception and not the rule. In 2013 our company was acquired by Eriks. At our annual North American conference in 2014 we were named Eriks most successful NA venture to date. To hear the wonderful things that the Eriks board members had to say about our company was more than rewarding. It solidified everything I already knew about C&C.
DG: What are your hobbies/interests outside of the business?
LL: I enjoy traveling, seeing history and experiencing new cultures. I love art in all forms. I’m also very keen on self development. You’ll usually find me reading the Bible or some other book on how to become more successful in this area or that. And of course, spending time with my family is a big one for me. I get a lot of joy from just hanging out with the people I love most. I really get into TV shows and movies, too. I often find myself binge watching a series on TV and then being really bummed when there aren’t any more episodes to watch, like Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones and House of Cards – the list goes on.
DG: Do you have a favorite story to share or memory from your experiences in the biz?
LL: I like to reminisce on the early days when it was just a handful of us working here. One person would leave and get lunch for the rest of us and we would all take turns doing this. In the evenings we would all sit around the conference table, eat cheese, drink wine and celebrate another day in business. Most days those sittings lasted until 8-10 at night – it was such good company that nobody wanted to leave. I will never forget that season in our lives. I’m very fond of our humble beginnings.
DG: What advice would you give to somebody just starting out in the industry?
LL: Take it all in stride! There are a lot of peaks and valleys in this industry. You’ll need to grow broad shoulders if you don’t already have them, as JoElla Bott (my friend & co-worker) would say. If you don’t know an answer don’t fake it! That’s one of the worst things because you lose your credability. But, if you stick with it and take everything as a learning experience, this industry will present you opportunities like no other industry. There are people who used to operate forklifts that are now CEOs of major companies. Your future is in your hands and it’s completely dependent on you. Pick up the torch and you can take it as far as you want it to go. My father, Dale Lutz, is a prime example of this. He worked road construction until he earned a job working the sales desk at JB Smith. He went on to build a $100-million company. Remember to treat everyone with kindness and respect. You never know, they could be your next boss.
To learn more about Lacie, visit www.candcvalve.com