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posted: 12/12/2018 1:00 AM

Coffee Break: Tim Engstrom, LA-CO Industries, Elk Grove Village

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  • Tim Engstrom

    Tim Engstrom


Q: Describe your company.

A: LA-CO Industries is a fourth-generation, family-owned global manufacturing company specializing in the manufacturing of industrial hand-held markers, plumbing chemicals, temperature indication tools and livestock identification products.

Q: You have been around for a while.

A: Yes. Since 1934, we have taken pride in the design and manufacturing of high quality, performance-based products for our customers' unique applications. With locations in both, Elk Grove Village and Blyes, France, LA-CO Industries and its four brands serve distributors in over 60 countries worldwide.

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

A: Yes.

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

A: Scaling to grow.

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

A: The digital marketplace expanding into manufacturing is the biggest trend.

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

A: Listen first; then structure like you are a manufacturer, however innovate like you are a digital retailer.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: "Don't let best be the enemy of better."

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

A: Amazon. I admire the fact of how their culture allows teams to push through the fear of the unknown to create something others are not doing while continuing to evolve.

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

A: I've become an advocate for hiring people with disabilities, an issue I've really had a chance to tackle in a concrete and exciting way as an adjunct professor in the Elmhurst College supply chain management master's degree program.

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

A: I spend time with the family.

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: "The Hunter's and the Hunted" by James B Swartz.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: My supply chain master's degree students and I recently co-authored, "The HOPE Handbook: A Guide to Disability Hiring," which helps organizations interested in tapping into the underutilized population of adults with disabilities.

I believe strongly in this handbook, and have been working with several companies interested in implementing what it lays out.

So what keeps me up at night is the fear that if some small bump in the road were to happen during or after implementation, that it would trigger the company's fears and somehow put a stop to its efforts to establish a disability hiring program.

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

A: Teaching and consulting.

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: Bailing hay for my neighbor.

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

A: In support of the "HOPE Handbook" and disability hiring, I would select the old Comiskey Park because the White Sox hired Jason Benetti, who is believed to be the first person with cerebral palsy to be hired as an announcer.

• We are searching for suburban company leaders to profile in our Coffee Break feature. Please contact Rich Klicki at for more information.