While business leaders can come and go, some of them have a lasting impact on the businesses they develop and on the community in which they live. That definitely holds true for Dave Hancock, someone that has made significant impacts within the Chippewa Valley business arena since founding Applied Research and Development (ARDCO) in 1960. Over the past 55 years, Dave has had a pivotal role in shaping one of Chippewa County’s most successful organizations, Spectrum Industries.
The company is the premier manufacturer of furniture that facilitates learning by developing furniture that allows for easy use of technology and communications equipment. The company has continued to evolve with the changing face of education, its primary customer focus. “In the past, the average lifetime of one of our products was between 10 to 12 years. Today, it’s about two years,” Dave said. “We are really focused on incorporating changes and new technology even faster than we have in the past,” he continued.
Part of the reason Spectrum has succeeded and why Dave has flourished as a business leader comes from his approach—a focus on developing jobs for the community and cultivating a dynamic team. “Today, we have about 230 employees. This includes everything from sales professionals to manufacturing positions and office personnel,” Dave explained. “We are truly successful because of the teams we have developed to achieve a shared goal—it has never been about any one person,” he said.
While its headquarters is in Chippewa Falls, you can find Spectrum Industries products throughout the United States. With 14 outside sales representatives, they are consistently focused on contacting schools, gathering feedback, and developing new products that align with upcoming educational needs. “We are always excited to adapt to change and promote that change to our current and potential customers,” Dave said.
Because it has always focused on the future, the company has now positioned itself for even more growth. After a recent purchase of the Pactiv building on River Street, the company will be adding additional manufacturing space to facilitate added orders. “We are currently re-working the space and are looking forward to the extra capabilities it will offer us as we position ourselves for more growth,” Dave said.
And, there has never been a question regarding Chippewa Falls as the home of the company. “The local population has the skills we need and people here have a great work ethic. They integrate well and have created a team that allows the company to grow,” Dave emphasized. The employees are loyal to the company, as many of them have been with the organization for over 20 years.
As Dave reflects on his leadership and time with the company, he reiterates that building a team and understanding the environment are keys to organizational success. “To be successful in today’s world, you need to take risks and pay attention to the world around you,” Dave said. “Team members must know that you have confidence in their abilities and that they can make decisions for the future,” Dave concluded.