How Empowered Employees Fuel Small Business Success

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June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Dal Lamagna, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer at Icestone and founder of Tweezerman, explains his path to small business success, his business strategy of empowering employees that hold equity in the company and the hurdles and challenges faced by small businesses. He speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.”

Secret sauce.

? how do you go from tweezers to countertops?

I found a tweezers by accident because i had it but full of splinters.

It started because you got splinters in your tush?

That grew in two tweezer man, which became a very big company.

I empowered my employees, as a result, they created a company a lot bigger than i ever would've wanted.

I sold the company in 2004, and i invested in a company called istone, which makes countertops out of recycled glass and cement.

This company is in brooklyn.

35 thousand square-foot facility, who makes things in brooklyn?

Cement, glass, water and non-toxic pigments.

The stuff is so pure, you can have safe sex on it.

Wait, you went from splinters in your butt, to encounter you can have sex on -- to a counter you can have sex on.

Finally, we got it all together and had our economic meltdown.

The construction industry came to a halt.

The company was going to go out of business, this was in 2011. as an investor, i said we should save this company.

The employees know what they are doing.

Let's empower them.

I'm 67, i'm not going to start all over again.

We gave them 10% of the company, we paid a living wage for the people in the factory.

$50 an hour in new york -- 15 -- $15 an hour in new york.

The employees elected one of themselves to be the third managing partner, we set up an executive committee of five people who run the company.

I ran it more like a school.

I was more professorial than dictatorial.

These employees when i realized how the company works financially, they realized we have too much overhead.

What is the secret to making a product like this successful, in what is an unbelievably fragmented and competitive market?

There are at least 11 different kinds of kitchen countertop surface that you can buy, within them some of the most popular ones are quartz.

There are six major suppliers and synthetics, you are competing with them, you are competing with others.

How you do it?

We were the first with the idea of mass-producing a countertop out of recycled glass and cement.

We got this look.

The quartz people came along and copied us.

They took out the cement and putting glue.

Lou has -- glue ashas voc's in them.

So it's not pure.

After we got hit by hurricane sandy, we were out of work for a while.

We got a loan, we were able to computerize our facility and run multiple shifts.

I was able to take my overhead, which represented 70% of the product cost, hassett -- half its, and we are again competitive with all the people who copied us.

I was the affordable care act -- how was the affordable care act affecting you?

Not at all.

Health care is a serious cost for us.

Our empowered employees came to me and said, the company paid half the health care costs for employees.

They said we don't think it is fair that people who are only making $15 an hour pay the same as people making $70,000 a year.

We would listen to get progressive.

We take the salary of each person, taken over the total salaries, and that is the percentage they would pay.

The boys -- employees at the bottom pay less.

Employees of the top pay more.

What are company did was we got a deductible policy, and weak opposite dockable.

-- we comp the deductible.

Your factory is right around the corner from where i live.

How is a competitive to manufacture in brooklyn?

It is a struggle.

That is for sure.

However, we are in new york city.

The factory, -- we have a factory, by the navy yard.

They give us lower rent, they are there to support us.

How do you make money?

We are in the countertop business, we are moving towards the point where we do everything for you, you call us, we will get -- turnkey.

We were talking about being

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.


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