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Built to Last: M. Holland

July 6, 2015 Article 3 min read
For more than 50 years we’ve been fortunate to count M. Holland among our clients. CEO Edward Holland recently took a few minutes to tell us about his company and what it takes to run a successful family business, generation after generation.

Tell me a bit about M. Holland.

We’re the largest family-owned plastic resin distributor in North America with more than 60 years of experience. We pride ourselves on being the trusted partner to our customers and suppliers. We live by our eight core values which are reflected in our sales approach, supply partnerships and how we interact internally.

Complete this sentence: Customers seek us out because...

They trust M. Holland to help them improve their businesses. We do far more than just bring them raw materials. We bring a tremendous amount of consultative value. We have a reputation for being a trusted partner not only with our customers, but our suppliers as well. We go the extra mile; even if it costs us more money and we make less, we always do the right thing, the right way.

What generation of family ownership is M. Holland currently in?

I am the second generation.  My father, Marvin Holland, started the business in 1950, and now two of my children, the third generation, are also working in the business.

Of our 165 employees, we’ve had many families here. We have one gentleman here whose father worked here 30+ years. We have people who met here and got married. We have a person who came into the business almost 20 years ago and actually brought his father in.

What’s the biggest challenge in managing a family business?

Bringing in the next generation always creates interesting dynamics. There’s no guarantee the next person in my chair is named Holland. It’s an earned position, not a birthright. As a family business grows and matures, there should be rules, including getting experience elsewhere. I didn’t do that with my children, and I wish I had so they would’ve learned about the world of business outside the sphere of the family business, where people don’t care what your name is. 

To what do you attribute M. Holland’s success and why?

Our sacrosanct foundation of eight core values: Integrity, honesty, loyalty, trust, work ethic, character, passion, and respect. People started putting that in that their email signatures, not because we asked them to, but because they wanted to. We’ve created an atmosphere where the “A” players in our industry want to be here.  It’s fairly easy to be successful if you have the right talent in the organization.

What might our readers be surprised to learn about M. Holland?

How few people we have to do the amount of business we do and that we are going international. We’re moving into Mexico and Central and South America. 

Plante Moran has worked with M. Holland for 50 years now. Can you tell me a little about the assistance we’ve been able to provide—maybe a key moment or two?

Plante Moran was always a very good advisor for M. Holland and my father. We did go through a vetting process a year ago, and we brought in other people to determine if Plante Moran was still the best partner. We decided you were. We believe Plante Moran operates their business in a way that fits our business more consistently than anybody else. We will never choose a company out of laziness, or just because it was good for yesterday.

Any advice on longevity?

You have to have a long-term vision of the business as opposed to a short-term, financially driven one. If you do the right things for the long term, you’ll end up better than if you take shortcuts for a great sale or great quarter. Those things will catch up to you. That’s one of the advantages of being privately held. We don’t have Wall Street to worry about. We make decisions that will protect and enhance the corporate culture.


Want to read about another innovative family business? Check out our interview with Better Made Snack Foods, an 85-year-old company that understands if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.

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