Celebration Corner: Midmark Corporation's 100th anniversary

By Barbara Spector

The Ohio-based maker of medical equipment marked its centennial with a multifaceted celebration that lasted throughout 2015.

The Business: Midmark was founded in 1915 as the Cummings Machine Company in Minster, Ohio, by four partners, including John W. Eiting, great-grandfather of Anne Eiting Klamar, M.D., the current chairman. The company started out as a manufacturer of concrete mixers, mining cars and locomotives and later changed its name to Industrial Equipment Company. Carl F. Eiting, John's son, succeeded him and led the company into its 50th year.

Industrial Equipment Company entered the medical equipment market with the acquisition of assets from the bankrupt American Metal Furniture Company in 1967; the company also underwent another name change, to I.E. Industries. Under the leadership of Klamar's father, James A. (Jim) Eiting, the medical division moved to Versailles, Ohio, in 1969, and the company was renamed Midmark Corporation. Today, Midmark makes medical, dental and veterinary equipment and has more than 1,600 employees, referred to as "teammates." It is headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, and maintains production and administrative offices in Versailles, as well as four subsidiaries in the United States, international subsidiaries in India and Italy, and a sales office in the United Kingdom.

The Family: Klamar became president of the company in 2000 and was named CEO in 2003. Effective Jan. 4, 2016, she assumed the role of chair of the board. In doing so, she switched roles with John Q. Baumann, who joined Midmark's board in 2009 and was named chair in 2013; Baumann is now Midmark's CEO. Jim Eiting, Klamar's father, is chair emeritus.

Klamar's brother Mitch Eiting is Midmark's global relations manager; sister Polly Grow works in casework customer service. Fifth-generation member Allison Eiting, Klamar's niece, is a copywriter in the corporate and marketing communications department.

The Celebration: Midmark started its 100th anniversary year with a celebratory presentation. "We took it to all our North American locations, so all of our teammates in North America were able to take part," Klamar says. "And at the end we popped streamers, and just made time to celebrate and talk." Teammates dressed for the occasion in commemorative T-shirts.

At the start of the year, signs and banners were posted at all Midmark locations, and an anniversary section was added to the company website.

The company published a book, years in the making, entitled Reminisce Reinvent Renew—the theme of the anniversary celebration; copies of the book were distributed to teammates. Monthly internal communications highlighted different aspects of the company history. Every other month, teammates received a gift featuring the 100th anniversary logo, such as water bottle and a mug.

Midmark invited the community to share in several of its anniversary events. The Versailles Area Historical Museum presented a Midmark 100th anniversary exhibit that included photos, articles and company artifacts. A Midmark float participated in several local parades in the summer. In October, Midmark opened its Education Center to members of the local community, giving the public an opportunity to see the company's products.

A 100th anniversary gala celebration for board members, shareholders and "friends of the family" was held in June. A weekend celebration in late September for teammates, family members and special guests (including several state dignitaries) featured camping on the premises, a softball tournament, food, music and plant tours.

The Planning: Ken DeMange, Midmark's director of corporate and marketing communications, led the team that planned the celebration. "He's been with the company almost 30 years and he lives in Versailles, so he's very passionate about the region and the company and the heritage," Klamar says. The planning team included Klamar, Grow and Allison Eiting.

Planning began a year in advance. "The month-by-month schedule is actually three and a half pages long," Klamar says.

Klamar says that because of her "forward-facing" orientation as the leader of the organization, she initially was more concerned with planning for Midmark's second hundred years than with celebrating its first hundred. "I was supportive of everything being planned for this celebration," she says, "but didn't really see the value in it until I saw the teammates wearing the hundred-year pin, wearing the T-shirts, talking about being a 100-year-old company and how fortunate we are—their sense of pride. So all the planning that went into the celebration was definitely worth it, based upon the emotions and the feelings and the goodwill."

The Future: Klamar says the family had discussed for years the plan for a non-family leader to succeed her. "The fact that Allison, as a G5, is working here is kind of amazing, and I don't think this was part of anybody's plan," Klamar says. "She was in New York for a while, came back and interned at the company, and she's really good. But none of the G5s have been raised to work at the company or lead the company. We're trying to work with them on being successful and thoughtful shareholders and stewards of the company for the future. We believe what's best for the family and the company is to let the G5s find themselves."

The Advice: "If you're having a milestone," Klamar says, "celebrate it, because it adds to the culture and it adds to the pride that people feel in working in family companies."

Copyright 2016 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

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