Nearly two decades ago, Keith Campbell stepped into a job that members of his family have held for four generations: chairman of flooring manufacturer Mannington Mills.
He has been anything but a caretaker for the nearly 100-year-old company.
Under Campbell's leadership, Mannington not only weathered the recent recession, which hammered the flooring industry and other housing-related sectors, it acquired two companies. Today, the company operates nine factories throughout North America and employs a team of more than 2,400 people across the globe.
"I'm most proud of the reputation Mannington has in our South Jersey area and in the industry, not just for the products but for the kind of people we are," says Campbell, who through this period of growth and expansion has remained committed to the company's values of hard work, honest dealing, faith, family and community. "The entire company is committed to being people who care, who do the right thing and who work hard and play hard."
The formula has guided the company since 1915, through two catastrophic fires, two World Wars, the Great Depression and other hardships. Founded by Campbell's great grandfather, Mannington Mills has grown from a small floor-covering company into a multinational corporation that produces and markets hardwood, laminate, vinyl, porcelain tile and commercial carpet floor coverings.
According to Campbell, the company's success stems from the talents of its people.
"I've had my hands in just about every aspect of the business over the years, but I humbly admit to being a master of none of it," he says. "I believe success lies in the collective whole, and with the right people around you, good things will happen."
In addition to promoting a culture where employees are more like family to each other than co-workers, Campbell takes pride in being able to offer a comprehensive benefits package. Whether providing equal and challenging opportunities, training and development, or recognition and rewards for those who take risks and make special contributions, Mannington has gained a reputation for taking care of its associates and being an employer of choice.
When asked what other companies can learn from Mannington, Campbell describes a time when the company was faced with a major product failure. Although the manufacturer took a big financial hit, the most important outcome was that its retail partners and customers were taken care of.
"In business it's important to take responsibility for your mistakes," says Campbell. "Doing the right thing often costs more, but it has tremendous benefits in the long term."
For this lesson and many others, Campbell thanks his father, whom he calls an excellent role model. John Boston Campbell II was always there to pick up his son and dust him off when things didn't go as planned.
In keeping with Mannington's motto of "do the right thing," Campbell also continues to lead the company in promoting social responsibility.
"We truly believe that we must keep the community safe, healthy and thriving," Campbell says. "Whether it's through donations to national charities like the United Way or the American Red Cross, our associates are always among the first to answer a call for help."
In addition, the company has earned recognition for its efforts to improve the environment and forge strong partnerships with other businesses, government agencies, and groups focused on environmental protection.
"We are constantly exploring ways to improve our products and manufacturing technologies to reduce our environmental footprint, increase resource efficiency, cut waste, and improve the use of recycled materials," Campbell says.
A country boy at heart, Campbell enjoys spending his free time driving his pickup truck and hunting ducks with his Labrador. With a family succession plan firmly in place, he says that he hopes to retire within 10 years.
"I look forward to having more time for spending with my grandchildren, traveling with my wife and getting my golf game back," he says. "I'm sure there will be one or two civic organizations that will be calling me up, as well."
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