In Tribute: Story from our Founder James Addison Bell
Stories are the spice of life. In tribute to our founder, James Addison Bell, who passed away on March 23, 2015, we share this story. Addison founded Carotek in 1964, working out of an automobile and with a briefcase. The Boiler Division was one of his first accounts. He had a background in mechanical engineering from the University of Virginia.
A Story from our Founder : In The Beginning
By: Addison Bell, July 2012
I am very proud of the company Carotek has become over my lifetime. We not only have the best product lines and value added services in our mechanical and electrical shop but, most importantly, we have the best people we have ever had on staff, all 140 of you. And how about that Process Training Unit (PTU®)? Few if any companies in our business have that to offer our customers and it has significantly helped our business.
When I started Carotek in 1965 I could not possibly envision the company it has become today. We just kept opening doors of opportunity, sometimes we failed and learned, but most of the time we succeeded. Our first main product line was Allis Chalmers pumps as agents and distributor for Virginia and the Carolinas. We kept our inventory in the basement of my home where my wife, Sue and our first employee, Virginia Angle, worked out of our den, dining room and kitchen.
One day way back when, I was on the road selling in Virginia and I kept calling home to pick up calls but there was no answer all day long. Around 6pm Sue finally answered the phone and I let her know I was very upset and that not answering the phone was no way to run a business. After I finished my tirade, Sue said, don’t you know it’s raining? I replied, so what, it was raining in Virginia. Sue reminded me that the Allis Chalmers inventory was stored in our basement and the basement had two feet of water in it. Sue and Virginia had spent all day wading in the water to save the inventory in boxes by putting them on tables, shelves or wherever they could to keep them dry. She then said she was fixing supper for our four little children and that she was going to hang up. That was the day I learned to never jump anybody’s case until I have all the facts.
Of course we grew to 10 people, 12 people and then at 18 people I felt we had really arrived. I was very happy at that size.
But now at 140 great people I am happier than ever. It has been my great blessing to have really loved the work I have done and I still hope to make a contribution from time to time. I have always said that if we do not enjoy the work we do, after all we spend most of our life working, it is time to move on and do something different. Since we have so many folks with over 20 years service I believe we have created a culture that is worth having, not only to make money, but to enjoy and appreciate our relationships and our work.
We now operate in five states; Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. We have a great management team and they have great talent with each of you working in the various Divisions we have. We believe in training our people as well as our customers. We have always prided ourselves on our expertise in our product offerings. Our reputation with our principals and our customers is excellent and contributes significantly to our success. That is the result that we get when we do the right thing for our people, our customers and our principals. Even if we are occasionally wrong, it is always the right thing to support our customers and learn from our mistakes. I don’t think we make many of them.
Of course the world has gotten more complicated over my career but that brings opportunities with it as well as the challenges. Carotek is truly first in class, thanks to our people, and I am sure we will continue to be first in class for the rest of my career and beyond.
Thanks for all each of you do every day!