Family Matters

Mike RippleI feel very fortunate to be working in a family business.

Lots of times you hear about people in family businesses who got involved when they were just kids—sweeping floors, running errands, helping their folks in the office. That sure wasn’t me. My dad, Michael Ripple Sr., is president of Advanced Gas & Welding Solutions (Eastlake, OH), and didn’t start the business until I was in my 20s. I came in knowing absolutely nothing about the gases and welding industry. But Dad had a lot of faith in me, and he encouraged me to learn the industry and work with him. That was 12 years ago, and I’m still learning something new every day.

I got a jumpstart by attending a program through The Lincoln Electric Company in Cleveland. It taught me some industry basics and about communicating with customers. After that, I started at the bottom—filling tanks and cylinders, doing labor, helping in the store. I enjoyed learning that way. I’ve talked with managers in other companies who say that they also started at the bottom, which helped them get to know the customer base and led to better business relationships down the road.

After 8 years of learning about the business, I became operations manager, and have been doing that for the last 4 years. As operations manager, I do whatever it takes to get things done. Along with supervising 8 employees, there’s calling vendors, watching that our trucks go out on time, tracking inventory, handling phones, sitting behind the counter helping walk-in customers, making the occasional sales call and lots more.

Lately, I’ve had the added responsibility of supervising the renovations of a new facility we’ll be moving into very soon. I’ve been running back and forth making sure things are going as planned. At times it’s a little crazy, but I like that my job isn’t routine. If I had to sit in front of a computer day after day, that would drive me nuts. A good routine for me is going in lots of different directions.

It can be fun being part of a small familyowned business that is competing against the big boys. But the best part remains working with my dad, and with my younger brothers—Patrick and Tommy—who are also part of the business. I love that we’re able to be here as a family, working together to make this place the best that it can be.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Mike Ripple Meet the Author
Michael Ripple Jr. is operations manager for his family’s company, Advanced Gas & Welding Solutions (Eastlake, OH).