In October of 2010, Krista Galbraith was a part-time RN and a full time stay-at-home mom; today she is the President of K & S Tool, Die and Manufacturing a multi-million dollar company with 130 employees. K&S Tool was founded by Krista’s father in 1974, specializing in tool and die services for a wide range of industries. How is a non-engineer with no business management experience able to effectively step into such a significant role? For Krista, it is all about hard work, determination and a deep desire to carry on what her father started, along with some solid assistance from SCORE mentors Chuck O’Brien and Tim Clark.

Krista’s father, a tool and die maker, had always been integrally involved in every aspect of the business and, like many owners, did not have a succession plan in place. When his health began to decline in 2010, he worked with his attorney to outline a plan which, to her surprise, involved putting Krista on the Board of Directors. She attended her first board meeting in November of 2010 and began to observe the working of the business. His health quickly declined and in April of 2011, her father officially “passed the hammer” to Krista and with the full agreement of the board, she took over the daily operation and became the new President. The youngest of her three children was only a year old at the time.

It was a difficult time. Employees were afraid the company would be sold and Krista was anxious about her ability to calm their concerns, all the while hoping no one could sense how “inadequate” she felt as she learned the ropes. She took it slow and began “shadowing” staff members in each department to learn what they do, at one point even “running the equipment and grinding burrs off of something.” She parked in the employee lot and walked through the plant and offices, speaking to employees along the way. Some were receptive and some were not. During this time Krista “could see what was missing” but was unsure how to put her observations into practice.

She holds degrees in nursing, psychology and physical therapy but her education did not include anything relevant to business management and Krista knew she would need training and support in order to successfully steer the company into the future. In June of 2011 she attended a SCORE sponsored business event featuring Governor Scott Walker and it was there that Krista became aware of SCORE. Event attendees were offered the opportunity to meet with a SCORE mentor and when Krista explained her challenges to a SCORE volunteer he promptly recommended she work with Chuck O’Brien.

Her first question for O’Brien was “what should I be looking at?” Together he and Krista identified 10 areas she should focus on and he recommended that she take advantage of SCORE workshops centering on financial statements, which she did. So began a process of self-study to increase her knowledge and her confidence. Soon she was enrolled in a finance course at MATC to develop an even deeper understanding about the numbers she was reviewing.

Krista explains that O’Brien identified a number of issues early on that were difficult for her to accept but as they worked together to refine the organizational chart, clarify job descriptions and outline which areas would report to which executive, she quickly came to trust in his advice and expertise. With input and support from both Clark and O’Brien she was able to assemble an effective management team and hire accounting and law firms to ensure checks and balances for internal operations, all of which was key in allowing her to take time away to deliver her fourth child.

As a way to improve communication throughout the company, a regular newsletter was established. Regular face-toface meetings are now held, bringing small groups of employees together with the CFO and COO. Krista has also been known to appear with spontaneous treats and to personally hand out bonus checks. Both O’Brien and Clark now serve on the K&S Advisory Board.

As O’Brien sees it, “K&S is a great example of the need for a growing company to morph from an entrepreneurial structure, dominated by the founder, to an administrative one directed by professional managers. I can't help but think how proud Krista's father would be to see what a great job she has done with his company.”

Having “the right team in place,” which includes her sister as a key part of the Customer Service team, has been instrumental in Krista’s ability to balance her work and home responsibilities. The structure she developed with her mentor’s support has enabled Krista to network in the community and work from home, limiting her time at the office to one or two days a week.

“SCORE was instrumental in helping me and our company through this important transition,” she said. “We now have the organization in place to take us into the next 40 years.”

 

How SCORE Helped: 

In October of 2010, Krista Galbraith was a part-time RN and a full time stay-at-home mom; today she is the President of K & S Tool, Die and Manufacturing a multi-million dollar company with 130 employees. K&S Tool was founded by Krista’s father in 1974, specializing in tool and die services for a wide range of industries. How is a non-engineer with no business management experience able to effectively step into such a significant role? For Krista, it is all about hard work, determination and a deep desire to carry on what her father started, along with some solid assistance from SCORE mentors Chuck O’Brien and Tim Clark.

K&S Tool, Die & Manufacturing