Otis Technology was founded in 1985 by Doreen Garrett after a fall in the mud resulted in a ruined hunt and a barrel full of muck. Since then, she and her siblings – Larry Williams, Denise Miller and Nick Williams, alongside their parents, Jerry & Lori Williams, worked tirelessly to build the company we know today as Otis Technology. The Williams Family’s hard work and dedication to their dream and craft is a prime example of the manifestation of the American Dream.
This July, we welcomed Larry Williams to the helm of our Otis ship as our new CEO. In this week’s blog we get an inside look at what it was like growing up with Otis in your blood.
Q: Otis has a genuinely American origin story. Can you tell me what it was like to be a part of the founding, creation, and growth of this company?
A: We truly had humble beginnings. We started off at my parent's kitchen table, eventually taking over a majority of the house before moving into our first dedicated building. I learned so much early on; from hands-on hard work and traveling, to sales calls with my parents, to rebuilding my first machine at 12 years old.
The drive and entrepreneurial spirit my parents instilled in myself and my siblings is the stuff books are written about. We all work our asses off. This is not an overnight success story by any means.
I particularly like a quote from J.J Watt, “Success isn’t owned, it’s leased. And rent is due every day.”
Q: Your role with Otis has obviously changed a great deal over the years. Can you tell me more about how your position has grown and changed?
A: Starting young and growing up in the business gave me a chance to learn and appreciate the entire enterprise.
I’ve renovated buildings, rebuilt used machines, purchased product, demonstrated and sold product at trade shows, and assembled product all before entering high school.
As the company grew my siblings and I took on more specialized roles, I excelled at and enjoyed the challenges of operations. I was struck by my drive to continually improve, vertically integrate and never settle for good enough. We can always improve.
I’ve walked a mile or two in almost every shoe in the company. I have great respect for every person and position, from housekeeping to the CEO; everyone plays a critical role to be best in class.
Q: Otis employees all share a great pride in their work and love of their country. What inspired you and your family to grow a company culture so deeply rooted in support of our nation's Military and Law Enforcement?
A: It’s really something deeply rooted in our family’s ethics, a family mission statement if you will. “Treat others the way you would like to be treated”.
As we started producing product for the military, the intensity and importance of quality and operational excellence multiplied tenfold. Being late or producing poor quality product was not an option.
I’ve slept many nights by a CNC machine to do tool changes to hit delivery schedules for our warfighters. I figured the least we could do is get the product to them on time, every time- no excuses!
Doing our part to support our military and law enforcement keeps us driven, sharp and there’s no room for complacency.
Q: What would you consider this company’s greatest achievement? What are you most proud of?
A: What I’m most proud of over the years is being the leading company to give our warfighters better tools to maintain their weapons that protect them and America.
When service members visit our facility to let us know they are standing here in part to our products, it makes the 33 years of dedication and the tough unsung years all worth it. It gives a company a sense of purpose beyond compare.
I’m also very proud of pioneering Breech-to-Muzzle® pull through cleaning. 33 years ago we were virtually laughed at by our grandfather’s gun care brands, now every serious player in the industry offers some sort of pull through “snake” or in our case, the Otis Ripcord®.
Q: What is your favorite story from “back in the day” when you and your family were growing Otis?
A: Wow, we could probably write a book on “back in the day” stories, however one that is very unique and ultimately a blessing that kept the lights on at the company one summer in the early 90’s. It goes like this:
We started receiving Walmart checks for Otis Spunkmeyer cookie invoices. We sent the checks back and let accounts payable for Walmart know they were sending them to the wrong Otis. However, after several attempts and Walmart adamantly insisting we cash the checks, we did.
It literally kept us in business that summer. We eventually paid it back with product, but to this day I enjoy Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and thank them quietly.
Thank you, Otis Spunkmeyer.
Q: How would you describe yourself in one word?
Q: What do you like to do with your time off?
A: I enjoy spending my down time with my wife and 3 children as well as my parents and siblings sitting by a fire, cookout or poolside. The older I get the more I especially cherish time with my parents.
Q: What can we expect in the future?
A: I recognize the responsibilities and challenges ahead of us, and look forward to guiding Otis. We are excited to continue to exceed our customers’ needs and expectations. I appreciate the confidence the Advisory Board has shown in me and the entire Otis team.
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