Megapro Tools quietly made a leadership transition as Alicia O’Brien took the helm. Here she shares her lens on the changes, and what she hopes to carry on in the company.
Path to President
Most of you know my dad, Hermann Fruhm. He’s the inventor of the Megapro Original Retractable bit cartridge Screwdriver which first came to market in 1993. It wasn’t until 2014 that I started working with my dad in the family business and after several years of working together, I was promoted to General Manager. After three more years working arm-in-arm running the company together, I officially became a shareholder in the business.
In preparation for my maternity leave last year, Megapro hired my replacement, Mr. Jason Fluckiger, as a permanent position with the expectation that I would return to focus my attention back in the marketing arena. Life had other plans for us though.
After 6 months of maternity leave, the company was struggling, and I came back to work to lend a helping hand. Shortly after my early return, my dad told me that he was ready to handover the Megapro reigns to me. Officially.
He had planned to announce my appointment as President on his 73rd birthday, which at the time was just a few short weeks away. But later that same week, he suffered a stroke. (Don’t worry, he’s doing incredibly well).
Big Shoes to Fill
I am so grateful that Hermann made the decision to appoint me President before his stroke. However, because he had this birthday announcement plan, only a few select people and our immediate family knew. This made the transition during the stroke recovery a bit complicated.
The news of the stroke was a huge shock to those in our working community and I was nervous of how they might respond to the news of my new role. Because I had returned from my maternity leave early, I had my finger on the pulse of the critical issues that needed my attention and was able to take action in short order. This allowed me to step in for Hermann swiftly, and it appeared that everyone was quite welcoming of my new position.
I’m not perfect, nor do I claim to be. In fact, I’ve put my foot in my mouth a number of times since becoming President. My team has been patient and kind, and above all, compassionate. I hope that in my effort to be honest and transparent, they realize that this is all part of my learning and growth.
Overall, with the help of my incredible team, I can sense that the ship has been steered to a more positive position. We’ve pulled ourselves out of a consistent backorder state, which has improved our team morale (and client experience) and productivity has increased substantially.
Humour, Humility, Humanity, and Heart
At the beginning of this year, Hermann sent out a company announcement about the things that make working at Megapro special. We were still in the supply chain rough patch, and he wanted to unite the company and reinvigorate the team.
“Humour, humility, humanity, and heart”, he said.
These words spoke to me, not only for their catchy alliteration, but because they are the backbone of our core values and really capture what we, the company owners, want the culture to be.
So, what’s next?
It might be 2022 but being a female leader in business is still a challenge, especially in this male-dominated industry. I am doing my best to pick up where Hermann left off, to continue to honour and build off his legacy.
While I tend to have lots of similarities with him, my dad and I are very different – particularly in our leadership. I’m adding in my own personal flair as President, but I still intend to hold us to those 4 simple yet powerful words uttered at the new year: humor, humility, humanity, and heart.
I feel that everything about my return has been about uniting the team and helping us overcome obstacles. We’ve been smoothing and solidifying our foundation as we work towards transforming the company for this digital age. Despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding this succession, we have seen a beautiful synergy growing within the organization. I feel more confident than ever in my ability to lead the team and help grow this company.
I hope to earn this confidence with you, our customers, and ensure we’re always the tool in your belt that you know you can count on.