BY ABBIGAIL KRIEBS
It is unusual to come across someone today who has spent almost heir entire career at one company. It is even more unusual to find multiple people who have spent their entire career at that
Yet, this is the case with Tencarva Machinery Corp. based in
Greensboro, NC, where Rod Lee (President), Harold Muse (
Executive Vice President), Harry Taylor (Vice President of Operations),
and Don Wirth and Wayne Tatum (VPs not pictured), have been
working together since before the company began in 1978. Joined
by Ed Pearce, the current Secretary/Treasurer, these men help to
oversee a company that keeps moving upward on the Industrial
Distribution Big 50 List.
This wasn’t always the case. Thirty-five years ago, Lee, Muse,
and Taylor were part of a group of men who started the company
from scratch. The entire group – 18 salesmen and one lone finance
officer – had been employees at Tidewater Supply Co. in the sev-enties, and they all loved their jobs. Tidewater sold out when the
owner reached retirement age, and things changed. Five of the 19
men decided that they would start their own company. The other
14 decided to follow.
Today, Tencarva is an employee-owned company about to go
through a major transition. President Rod Lee is retiring Decem-
ber 31st of this year, but you wouldn’t know it based on the lack
of panic on everyone’s faces. “It is sort of a non-event when we
have a management change,” notes Lee, and they have the five
founders to thank.
When the founding directors of Tencarva – H. Vernon Cashwell,
J.S. “Jack” Miller, Robert S. “Bob” Paschal, W.L. “Dick” Smith, and
William H. “Bill” Stewart – set out to create their own company
with their own capital, they could have done it in a way that most
benefited them. Instead, they created a company that would best
serve itself and its employees.
“They could have put together their own company and gotten
us to come and work for them. Instead, they started right out conceiving of Tencarva as an employee-owned company with each of
the employees being given the opportunity – not the obligation,
but the opportunity – to purchase stock,” says Lee.
When an employee leaves the company, as Lee will do at the
end of this year, he or she sells their shares back and relinquishes
all financial ownership and financial influence. Lee will stay on as
a member of the board in an advisory position, but will no longer
have direct management of any part of the company. Ed Pearce
will take over as president, and the transition will likely go as
smoothly as previous transitions have.
“They set this up in a rather selfless way with the understanding
that they needed us to cover the territory and bring the expertise
that we had to the table. They could have done it differently, but
they didn’t. That is what has made the transition between presidents so uneventful,” says Lee.
Stick to the Goal
The original goal of Tencarva was simple: To create a good place
A Firm Foundation
Headquarters: Greensboro, NC
From L-R: Walter Hieber, Harold Muse, Ed Pearce,
Harry Taylor, and Rod Lee.