Ed Breiner, Director at Schramm, Inc, Talks Family Firms and Chilean Miner Rescue with Close School Student
June 21, 2016
Professor Jon Corle's "Dynamics of a Family Firm" class recently brought in the ex-president, CEO and current board member of Schramm, Inc, Ed Breiner. Breiner is a decorated drilling executive who led Schramm through a corporate buyout of the company from the Schramm family. Schramm manufacturers and supplies products to the hydraulic drill industry. While they manufacture and are based in West Chester, PA, Schramm exports their drills around the globe and pride themselves on their worldwide reach. Starting as an engine repair shop in Philadelphia, they originally built piston air compressors and eventually moved into the drill sector. The company has been run by the Schramm family for generations, with the roots of business dating back to 1900.
Schramm's drills gained international exposure when they were used to rescue the Chilean miners during the 2010 Copiapó mining accident. Because of this, their drills were featured in "The 33" a biographical-drama film detailing the rescue. Breiner noted a female geologist from Chile determined the right spot to drill to find the miners, and the Schramm drills helped make the rescue possible. The company gained name-notoriety and national acclaim from this incident. Afterwards, Ed Breiner and the Schramm crew were invited to the Oval Office to meet with President Obama, an honor bestowed for the most impactful Americans.
Successfully aiding such a critical operation, then President & CEO Breiner spoke about how to be ready to step up to the plate during an international disaster. He noted, "When the bell rings, be ready. And say yes." Schramm instills a sense of confidence and readiness in their employees, so when something unexpected like the mining accident did occur, they were ready for the challenge. No one could have anticipated that phone call, but Breiner believes that Schramm has always been preparing for an opportunity like this because of the sense of duty and importance the employees maintain. He makes sure that his employees are, "ready for the opportunity when it occurs."
Breiner also shared his experiences as a non-family member serving as CEO & President of the traditionally family-run business. Coming from a competitor, Ingersoll Rand, Breiner had to initially manage Schramm while adapting to a new, unfamiliar culture. Through this process, he learned the importance of building trust with employees and appreciating the existing culture from the outside coming in. And company culture is an integral part of Schramm's business. Schramm was an early adopter in the practice of selling shares to employees and offering benefits to employees. This is a testament to the strong company culture and how much the management has cared about employees and aligned their individual interests with those of the company. This also shows how Schramm thought innovation was crucial not only in their products but also in how they ran their company.
Schramm, Inc continues to manufacturer drills in West Chester, PA. While they may not be needed for another incident like the Chilean Miner rescue, there is no doubt that they are ready for anything. Their company has thrived due to company culture, innovation, and a mixture of strong leadership and employees. An example of a family firm run the right way.
Christian Larsen, Communications, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship