The Becht family loves having problems—engineering problems, to be precise. They are extremely good at solving them, and have been since Charles Becht III, 85, founded Becht Engineering in 1964 to consult on building systems for architects and homeowners.
One of Becht’s first jobs was the process, machine design and construction of a fiberglass manufacturing plant in North Carolina. This included first-of-its-kind manufacturing equipment. Becht successfully reduced overhead for the project by hiring part-time help on nights and weekends. Though the company saved money, Becht worked around the clock, setting the tone for innovation and inspiring the company motto, “We solve problems.”
“We do our best for each client…We [have] never walked away from a job because of budget challenges” explains Becht.
Becht’s daughter Laurie E. Becht, now 60, joined the firm in 1972, followed in 1986 by her brother Charles Becht IV, who brought knowledge of power plants, refineries, and chemical and petrochemical companies.
To better serve their clients’ needs, in 2006 the Bechts split the operation into two companies: Becht Engineering Building Technologies (BEBT) handles building systems, and Becht Engineering Co. (BEC) serves the power industries. Combined, the companies have averaged $30 million in sales over the past three years.
The founder remains active as CEO of BEBT. Laurie, who has an honors degree in mechanical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, is senior vice president of BEBT. Charles IV is president of BEC; his wife, Mary, is its marketing manager. They often travel on business together.
Charles Becht V, 30, treasurer and engineering advisor, and John Becht, 24, engineer, both at BEC, are the third generation to join the Becht Organization. Charles V has a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Bucknell University and a masters in nuclear engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
No matter how busy the Becht’s may seem, family remains a priority.
Headquarters: Liberty Corner
Owners: BEC: Charles Becht IV; BEBT: Laurie E. Becht, R. Russ Fernandes, Robert Bryant, Rick Burke and Charles Becht IV
Business: Engineering services
Family Members Employed: 6
Generations Actively Involved: 3
Finalists: Revenue Over $10 Million
Dick and Carol Fallon revolutionized ski retailing when they opened the first Ski Barn in 1971 in Little Falls. The store’s seasonal leasing program—which remains in place today—allows families to rent children’s equipment, making the once-exclusive sport more affordable and family friendly.
Now 40 years old, Ski Barn has locations in Paramus, Wayne, Lawrenceville and Eatontown. Recently, a third generation entered the family workforce. Jen Galinus, 24, granddaughter of Dick and Carol and a graduate of Ramapo College, is on the buying team and manages the clothing department in Wayne.
The family theme also runs through the staff at Ski Barn, which employs 70 people year-round, with a seasonal staff of 260. One family has had three generations of employees, while 12 others each have two generations on board.
Ski Barn promotes the sport by hosting events for ski teams, and supports ski patrol and ski instructors by selling them equipment at a discount. Last season, employee Rich Van Sickle coordinated an initiative with Ski DUCK, a nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for disabled and underprivileged children to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. Ski Barn provided helmets and equipment, and many employees volunteered to support and instruct the children.
During the energy crisis of the 1970s, the late John Marran set out to create the most efficient home heating system. His analysis led to the System 2000 boiler, an integrated heat and hot-water system with a revolutionary design holding only 2½ gallons of water. Brookhaven National Laboratory called Marran’s design more efficient than any commercially available boiler they had tested at that time.
Marran’s wife, Lorraine, who passed away in 2011, began answering phones and drafting correspondence in the early days of Energy Kinetics. A natural- born leader, Lorraine was soon promoted and served as vice president—a rare female executive in a male-dominated industry—until her retirement in 2000.
Today, John and Lorraine’s son Roger, 45, serves as president, while son Kenneth, 42, is vice president of the board of directors. The company still focuses on energy efficiency and the transition to a more sustainable, environmentally sound future.
Hunterdon County-based Energy Kinetics supports several community organizations, including the Arc of Hunterdon County, a group that provides support, training and opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Energy Kinetics has employed members of Arc and is a sponsor of the annual Step Up for the Arc Walk.
Semifinalists: Revenue Over $10 Million
Leaving work at the office has never been an option in the Siegel household, says Hank B. Siegel, the 54-year-old president and CEO of Hamilton Jewelers, located in Red Bank, Lawrenceville and Princeton. The retailer—which sells its own designs and other fine brands—was purchased in 1927 by Hank’s grandfather, Irving Siegel. Hank’s father, Martin Siegel, joined the firm in 1955 and now serves as chairman. The family is commited to customer service and community involvement.
Gellert Global Group
An international food importer supplying retailers, food-service operators and major restaurant chains nationwide, Gellert Global Group prides itself on operating an environmentally friendly company—as exemplified by new “green” headquarters in Elizabeth. The company was started in 1945 in Poland by Leon Rubin, father-in-law of current CEO George G. Gellert. Today, the Gellert Group consists of numerous leading food-importing firms, with combined revenues exceeding $800 million.
Jack Daniels Automotive
Established in 1972 in Fair Lawn by Jack Daniels III after a long career in the automobile industry, this family-owned chain of auto dealerships now has nine facilities under the leadership of brothers Jack IV, 58, and Mike, 56. The Daniels men, following their late father’s example, are dedicated to serving their customers and community. The company supports a variety of organizations and health causes throughout Bergen County.
Founded by Al D’Alessandro, 73, and his wife, Vittoria, 72, Union-based Marvic Corporation is a 51-year-old wholesale countertop manufacturer with clients such as Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ikea. More than six family members—including Al and Vittoria’s daughters Gina D’Alessandro, 44, and Michele Steinmetz, 42—are active in the company, which aids numerous community causes.
Royal Printing Services Inc.
Italian immigrant Anthony Passante established Royal in 1932 with a handset press and a linotype machine. He purchased a building in West New York and operated with only one employee until his death in 1963. Now his son Ralph, 70, runs the business with his sons David, 46, and Kevin, 42. Royal’s clients include hospitals, banks, schools and municipalities.
About The Awards: The 20th annual Family Business of the Year Awards honor the most outstanding family-owned enterprises in New Jersey. Sponsors include PNC, the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and New Jersey Monthly. A panel of judges chose winners, finalists and semifinalists in two revenue categories based on uniqueness, successful transition of leadership from generation to generation, and their ability to balance business acumen with civic spirit.
Click here to read about our Family Business Award winner in the revenue up to $10 million category.
Click here for an update of past Family Business Award winners.