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updated: 8/30/2016 1:42 PM

Steve Anton, President of Rahco Rubber Inc., Des Plaines

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Q: How do you describe your company?

A: We are a precision custom rubber molder. We have a family culture and many long term associates.

Q: How did the company begin?

A: The company is an outgrowth of the company our dad retired from, Fidelitone Inc. They made phonograph needles. There is a highly engineered molded rubber part in the needle/cartridge assembly called a "Dampener." Fidelitone decided to make these internally after having trouble with an outside vendor.

They then decided to expand the rubber molding activity and began developing a local market for molded rubber. As it turned out, this wasn't profitable and they decided to sell the rubber division.

Our dad, a senior vice president at Fidelitone, told the president that he would match the best offer for what remained after an initial sale of equipment. The president said he'd like to become a partner with our dad as did another Fidelitone executive.

So, Rutherford, Anton and Hudson (RAH) started a new company called Rahco Rubber Inc. They incorporated in 1972.

Q: What's new at your company?

A: We are seeing a lot of growth with new customers. And projects keep getting more demanding and complicated.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

A: Yes. We are looking for an experienced rubber engineer and also hiring factory personnel.

Q: If you were not doing this, what do you think you would be doing?

A: I would be selling something if I were to do something else. In the three years after college prior to Rahco, I sold a service called Computer Output Microfilm, and did very well at it. I always have thought that my business strength is in selling and building relationships.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

A: To launch all of the new projects successfully.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: Besides automation, flashless and low waste rubber molding.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?

A: Don't be afraid to make an occasional mistake.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: Never take a customer for granted.

Q: From a business outlook, who do you look up to?

A: My dad.

Q: Why? What did he do as a mentor?

A: Our Dad was a role model in many ways. From a business standpoint he was the consummate salesman.

He had that gift of knowing how to treat people and get them interested in what he was proposing. On a personal level, he was the most honest and ethical person I've ever known. He taught me how to treat people.

This was not really from lecturing but rather from just observing how he treated people his whole life. I continued to learn from him in his final years in the nursing homes, hospitals and finally hospice.

His sense of humor was outstanding as well. He was a funny guy up until the end at age 95.

Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?

A: We are an offshoot from a company that manufactured phonograph needles.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I enjoy golfing, working out and guitar.

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: "Triumph and Tragedy" by Winston Churchill.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Nothing!

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: I was a caddie at the Park Ridge Country Club.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

A: The PGA

Q: What is one funny thing that has happened to you in your career?

A: It's funny we are still thriving after all these years. We started knowing nothing about the rubber industry or manufacturing in general.

-- Kim Mikus