Detroit, MIINDUSTRY: MANUFACTURING
BUSINESS: VAUGHN INDUSTRIES, INC.
YEAR FOUNDED: 1977
PROGRAM: 2016 EMERGING LEADERS DETROIT
“I am continually dedicated to creating a system that runs the business, and getting my employees to run the system.”BUSINESS OVERVIEW
Vaughn Industries, Inc. was founded by Katie Novak’s father in 1977 after he had been laid off from his job. A chemist, he bought a decrepit dairy building and started manufacturing car wash chemicals while his wife managed the books. Like many entrepreneurs, neither one had exposure to business systems and processes, but they made good quality products and experienced growth and product diversification over the years. Ongoing research and development in one of the most modern chemical laboratories in the industry, Vaughan is dedicated to meeting the 21st century needs of the car wash industry.
Katie’s brother was slated to succeed their parents, but after his unexpected passing in 2014, the 3.4 million dollar company fell into her lap. Katie spent the first 6 months as CEO listening to her employees – spending time on the floor, learning their jobs, and their stories. Katie attributes much of her growth to her perspective as an “outsider” of the business. Her spirit of continuous learning has led her to numerous awards and recognitions that in turn have catalyzed her growth and expanded her own personal network.
Since completing the Emerging Leaders program in 2016, Vaughn Industries has both diversified its products, introducing a new line of “Dirty Girl” cleaning products, and capitalized on her brother’s patented design process for a specific car wash part. They are now an OEM replacement manufacturer. Vaughn Industries is currently expanding to a new 58,000 square foot facility, doubling the company’s footprint to allow for meaningful growth in the years ahead.
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