It was these three simple words that put Cheryl Wellman and Holly Barajas on the path to becoming business owners. However, the path to ownership was anything but simple. Recently, Cheryl and Holly sat down for a Q&A about their experience.
Although many people dream of owning their own business, few actually take the plunge. How did you decide to become business owners?
Holly: One day in 2014, when we were in the car talking about the situation at Lindy, Cheryl turned her head to look at me and matter-of-factly asked “why don’t we?” As in, “why don’t we buy the business”. That’s how it all began.
Cheryl: It wasn’t quite as impulsive as it may sound. Dave and Cathy Collins (the owners of Lindy) had been thinking of selling the business for quite some time. Yet, it was hard for them to let go – they had so much of themselves invested in the business. Several deals had already fallen through. Once they knew we were interested, however, things fell into place. They were more comfortable selling to us – employees who had worked for them for years – than a random company. They also knew that we would keep everyone on board and that was important to them.
Why did you want to buy Lindy in particular?
Holly: Things had slowed down at Lindy. We weren’t pursuing new business aggressively enough. We were concerned about the future, not just for ourselves, but for everyone who worked there.
Cheryl: Holly and I had worked at Lindy for years and loved the company and the opportunities it gave us to learn the metal stamping industry. Lindy was like a big family. It was important to us to keep the family together. We wanted to keep the company alive and help make a better future for everyone.
What challenges did you face on your path to ownership?
Cheryl: It wasn’t always easy, and early-on there was a lot that we did not know about buying a business. It took longer and was more complicated than we than we initially thought it would be. It took us nearly five years to finalize the deal.
Holly: Fortunately, we had a lot of help, guidance, and advice along the way. And, we knew how to research and find answers.
Cheryl: Just being open to possibilities helped us overcome obstacles in our path. For example, it just so happened that Eugene Barrinholz at KRD, our CPA firm, worked with a lot of companies that invest in other companies. He was an invaluable resource.
One thing that some readers may not know is that you are mother and daughter. What is it like to work together?
Cheryl: It has been wonderful to work with Holly. She’s supported the vision for Integrity from the beginning – we have the same dream. The whole experience has brought us closer. That said, we are careful to keep work and family matters separate. We set ground rules right from the beginning – before we were owners.
Holly: One advantage is that you know there is someone who “has your back”. We trust each other unconditionally. That has helped us to navigate some very challenging situations on this path we’ve chosen.
What advice do you have for someone who may be considering purchasing or starting a business?
Cheryl: Just do it – don’t be afraid – you are creating something people will use and value. What you do matters.
Integrity Manufacturing is a woman owned, American-made manufacturer specializing in precision metal stamping, project management and complex assemblies for companies around the world.
Cheryl Wellman, Owner and President
Prior to forming Integrity, Cheryl served in various roles with Lindy Manufacturing including accounting, IT, shipping, and plant management. She began her career as a bookkeeper – advancing to accounting management positions within different industries.
Holly Barajas, Vice President
Holly worked in a variety of capacities at Lindy Manufacturing, including plant management, production supervision, customer service, AP/AR, marketing, and purchasing. As safety manager, she led the company to win numerous safety awards.