Connie Kostrzewa – Chair Person of the Board of Directors
I grew up as part of a manufacturing family. My father and grandfather had started another similar type business in my grandfather’s garage, which grew into B&K Corporation. They had that until the family sold it after Val’s death in 1983
I always felt like I wanted to make it on my own, so I went into education. In 1982 I had talked to my dad about an interest in industry. We had talked about taking some classes in business and other related activities. So at that point I had started attending some of the Saginaw Valley Business Industry Development meetings. I had gone to a few of these meetings, and within months we had purchased Miles Machinery. That first summer I wasn’t teaching, so if you look all around the front of the building in Saginaw you will see red cinder stones for landscaping, I shoveled all those in there. I borrowed my brother’s truck, and we would all come over as a family and do landscaping and start to clean things up. The building was very poorly cared for because Miles had been in such financial straights they had no money to put back into the building. After the purchase, that was the first thing we did, clean up. Quite a few of us just came in the evenings to do what we could to help out and clean. Then in late fall of 1982, my dad started to experience some health problems. My Uncle Andy started to come in once a week and have management meetings and keep the staff focused on the business at hand Then I started coming in after school and attending these weekly meetings just to see if I could lend a hand.
Dale Wright had just came on board in May 1983, and I offered to work every day after school in May. Then the first of June, I began working full time to help out. I worked full time for two weeks and then my dad died. I offered to stay through the summer, then as that went on I could see they really needed help, so I took a leave of absence from my teaching job for one year. I never left after that. In February of 1984, just when business started to pick up, Dale Wright passed away.
My first job (not counting shoveling cinder blocks) was to answer the phone and do general office and clerical types of work. We had a service coming in to clean, but it was only once a week, so we all pitched in and cleaned at the end of the day. At that time we did all our own typing of the payroll and accounts payable checks by hand, and inventory, so I just became more and more involved and interested. When Dick DeYoung and Bob Floeter came on board I assumed more of those responsibilities. I’ll never forget that one day I called my sister Judy and said the auditors are coming in and I needed her to come in for a couple days to help answer the phones while I was dealing with the auditors. That was in 1985 and she has been here ever since.
This is the type of business that “once it’s in your blood, you never want to leave.”
My mother, Julie Kostrzewa, right from day one has been a very strong board member, attending every meeting. Having lived in this business her whole married life, she knew what the demands of this business were like. The demands on cash, time and energy.. She has also been a good sounding board for me.
I would also like to mention that we have received outstanding support and professional advice from my Uncles Andy and Joe Kostrzewa, and other family members. Uncles Andy and Joe have been active Board of Director members since 1982. They are always available for advice, giving us good sound business suggestions, challenging us to become a financially sound business, and encouraging us to keep the business wheels turning:
My Aunt, Rita Demko, has been on staff since September of 1988 providing invaluable assistance in business operations, customer satisfaction and employee development. Aunt Rita has brought “integrity” to the business and she has taught me the true meaning of “hard work” and “family pride.”
My dad was always stressing the importance of treating people with dignity, and that is how we have always tried to run Wright-K Technology, Inc.