Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program
EMP Visits Betts Company
Written by Tyler Turk
There are many terms used to define entrepreneurship: innovation, perseverance, work ethic, and community engagement. Betts Company, located in southern Fresno emulates each of these terms. William Michael Betts relocated from England to St. Louis, Missouri in the 1800s to continue his spring manufacturing business. Using his entrepreneurial vision, Betts noticed a large amount of westward movement and in 1868 sailed to San Francisco and created Betts Spring Company. Unfortunately, the Earthquake of 1906 demolished the company and forced Betts to relocate. Focusing mostly on transportation, Betts Company evolved and adapted to vehicular technology. In 2008, the company moved to Fresno, California. After 146 years of service, the company continues be a leader in spring manufacturing applying the knowledge and skills used by successful entrepreneurial companies.
Work Ethic is Key
Success is built on many different qualities and the ability to maximize these characteristics has led to Betts’ successful market position. One quality that shines throughout the company is work ethic. Ron Aulakh, the Manufacturing Manager at Betts, stated to the Entrepreneur Mentor students, “Work ethic is number one. If you have a work ethic you can succeed at anything.” Paired with the emphasis on work ethic is a sense of pride and accomplishment that resonates throughout the plant.
Passion, Passion, Passion
Since its formation, Betts Company has been family owned through seven generations. Mike Betts, CEO, and his son Bill Betts, Vice President, have continued the drive and tenacity that was first conceived by its founder William Michael Betts. Bill, speaking of the Betts culture, said “We do not want anyone here at Betts to think waking up is a chore.” Passion is not only an entrepreneurial characteristic of Betts Company, it is a way of life.
Bill Betts speaks highly of his position in the Betts legacy and being in a family business. This passion for family is echoed throughout the company. The culture at Betts is one of unity and drive as each person knows how much they mean to the company.
Building the Culture
The fuel that keeps Betts burning is its culture. “The Betts Way” is a vision that extends from the company to each of its employees. Within the “Betts Way” lives a phrase that the company thrives: “Improving the Way Things Move”. This philosophy is the foundation of Betts core values. Each day, the members of Betts look on how to create a more efficient and effective process for customers, employees, their families, and the community. The idea of “Improving the Way Things Move” is the sense of passion and pride that Betts expresses within the company and externally into the community.
What to Take Away from Betts as an Entrepreneur
As students in the Entrepreneur Mentor Program, there are many things to learn from our visit to the company. The sense of innovation and determination that was created with the Betts name is a key foundation. The work ethic spread throughout the company is vital. The familial passion that dwells within each entrepreneur at Betts is essential. However, the most important aspect an entrepreneur can take away from Betts is how to create a culture using all of the above examples.
Living the life of an entrepreneur means there is an imperative need to change the world in some positive way. This means going beyond products or ideas, profit or growth and into the hearts and minds of the people you want to affect. Betts may be a leading manufacturer of springs or truck parts, but within each product is something greater. The story that lives with each spring is one built on community and culture. The task of the entrepreneur is to achieve excellence to create not only products or services, but more importantly, a way of life.