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During the most recent PVF Roundtable meeting, I had the opportunity to visit Sheryl Michalak of Welding Outlets, Inc. (WOI), and talk to her about her business, as well as the PVF Roundtable, of which she’s a board member.
I asked her to share a little about her history and how she got started with WOI, and the industry. Interestingly enough, she said WOI was not a family business. Her father founded a company in 1975, which he had for 20 years before selling it. Soon after that, he started another business with a gentleman named Roberto Galperti. They had different philosophies on how to run the business, and so it only lasted for three years.
Before the partnership ended, she spent some time working for Galperti. She recalls going to both Asia and Italy, where she made calls to different companies, and it was the beginning of a very good learning experience. “When dad left, he sold his part of the business to Roberto,” she says.
After that happened, she says, “My dad and I met in his kitchen, and he said, ‘we’re going to do this one more time, but you’re going to get the loans and I’m going to show you how to do this.’
Sheryl says she knew how to do the sales part, but didn’t know about the administration part. “I didn’t have a clue about this. I knew about accounting, and a few other things. I was a dental assistant for a long time, and then I was a mother who raised my kids. So, long story short, I went and got the loans and started.”
WOI has been in business for 18 years now. Sheryl says her father was a wonderful teacher, but a hard teacher.
Danielle Galian: Your “forte” is connecting with people. What is your role in connection with your forte on a greater level?
Sheryl Michalak: I like people. I like getting out there and meeting people. It’s important to me not to hurt anyone’s feelings in this environment. It’s really important to make sure that everybody in the shop, or in sales, is connected. I can’t just sit in my office all day long. We have a superb group, and we all work together.
DG: What is your history with the PVF Roundtable?
SM: I joined the PVF roundtable about 17 years ago when I started in the business. I went to a couple of meetings before then, and I didn’t really know how to join, so I asked. I always asked what I can do to help. For a while, I helped Don Caffee. After he passed away, I offered to take over the position of secretary treasurer, and I’ve been doing that for 10 years now.
DG: What’s the growth been like for the PVF Roundtable?
SM: It’s unbelievable; we’re scrambling and just trying to figure it out. We’re going to have a board meeting to talk about what we’re going to do about this growth. It’s wonderful, and we love it, but we’ve got to start allocating things to other people, because it’s getting to be too much.
DG: The October meeting is looking to be quite the event. Can you share any details?
SM: Dealing with the enormous growth, we’re trying to stay relevant with our speakers. We really only have one person who is going to be speaking this year, and that’s Terry Bradshaw.
DG: What is the roundtable doing to attract more millennials, more young professionals, and more women to join?
SM: They are the future. We’ve changed so much over the years with things like the young professional’s organization. They’re doing wonderful, because they like to connect and they like to understand products. It’s growing and we’re getting more sponsors, too.
DG: What advice would you give them?
SM: Keep coming to meetings. Meet people, and know their customers really well. Make friends with their customers. Stay relevant with what’s going on, and stay connected to what’s going on.
For more information on the PVF Roundtable, visit pvf.org.