Restek: A Company of Owners

Paul Silvis By Paul Silvis, Restek Founder & Former Head Coach

Twenty-one years ago, I had a vision of creating a company where employees would enjoy coming to work as much as going home. Everyone kept telling me that we couldn't keep alive the Restek vision of being a great place to work as we got bigger, but I've always been too stubborn to agree. Today, more than 250 employee-owners and our families work, play, and celebrate milestones in our state-of-the-art facility in Bellefonte, in our new research facility in California, and in our subsidiary locations in England, France, Germany, and Ireland. And, in keeping with my vision, Restek is celebrating its twenty-first year in business by being selected as one of Pennsylvania's Top 100 Places To Work — for the third time!! We understand that our customers' happiness and our own are tightly intertwined — we care about the products we make, and the Plus 1 service we provide, because your best interests also are ours.

Plus 1 Service, Innovation, and Execution (PIE) have been, and continue to be, the keys to our success, but another vital component to our success is that Restek employees have a positive vision of their future. Why? Because as the founder and controlling shareholder, I have set in motion a plan to sell the company to the employees, providing them the opportunity to chart their own future and continue the tradition of our customer-first culture.

Friends of mine who started companies, including Walt Jennings of J&W, and Nick Pelick and Walt Supina of Supelco, had a significant impact on my vision for Restek. These individuals all expressed regret once their exciting, entrepreneurial companies were sold. Each watched as the cultures they so carefully assembled began to change, and employees lost that "enjoy coming to work" feeling. I have come to believe that success is not measured by the price for which you can sell a company, but by the way the company prospers under the next generation of leadership. In 2005, I turned over the reins of Restek to Don McCandless, who took over as Head Coach and in the supporting role of mentoring and teaching the next generation of leadership. Now, we are fully engaged in the process of executing an employee stock ownership plan for selling the company to those whose labors have had a major role in building it. As we advance toward total employee ownership, our people and our products are positioning Restek to meet new challenges and opportunities, with even better service to our customers and community, and it is no exaggeration to say that Restekians truly do enjoy their work.

Restek will continue to be successful because our employees are excited that their future is in their own hands. Customers will continue to benefit because Restek will remain independent — able to work with all of the instrument companies — and will continue to create top quality products for all of them. We will be able to continue responding to all the ideas that pour in from customers around the world, telling us what products and services they need to make their lives easier in the lab.

Our company of owners will control their own destiny. I will be smiling from ear to ear when I see how employee ownership works to create a company in which employees still enjoy coming to work as much as going home! Isn't it fun to do business with employee-owners who love coming to work every day?