Giving “Family Business” a Whole New Meaning

While Alltech Communications meets the traditional definition of a family business because it has been in the same family for two generations, it isn’t often that you find four pairs of fathers and sons working at the same company.

Mike attributes this father/son dynamic at the company to a corporate culture built on family values and a spirit of looking out for each other.

People throw around words like culture to talk about work environment,” Mike said. “It is really pretty simple. At Alltech, we follow the Golden Rule: treat people the way you would like to be treated.”

For Mike, that means recognizing the staff is a team and success is achieved when everyone is fulfilling their roles. It also means giving people the freedom to do their jobs without micromanaging them, treating them fairly and rewarding them for a job well done.

DL was always fair. That really made an impression on me, and I work hard to carry that forward,” Mike said. “We work hard to provide more than just stable jobs; we want our employees to have good work/life balance and feel that they matter—because they do.”

That caring work environment—or culture, if you are into the buzz words—has resulted in an unbelievable level of employee longevity. The majority of Alltech’s 14 employees have been with the company more than 10 years. Three of the senior technicians have been with Alltech for more than 25 years, the office manager has been there for 20 years, VP Scott Wheat has been there 17 years and the cable installers have been there for 15.

Working with Dads

That employee longevity has, in turn, created a unique opportunity for a multigenerational business to unfold for employees as well as the owner. Four Alltech fathers are now sharing workspace with their sons.

Henry and Jack Knoxsah

The first son to come into the business was Jack Knoxsah, the son of Henry Knoxsah, a senior technician who has been with Alltech for more than 25 years. Jack, who had been working on his wiring and technical skills at home with his father while he was still in high school, joined Alltech after he graduated in 2012.

I never doubted that Jack was a good hire,” Mike said. “I knew with Henry’s outstanding work ethic that he would look out for Jack and keep him on track.”

Jack has done more than stay on track for the past nine years; he is now an integral part of Alltech’s security division.

Steve and Tyler Hoss

Three years later, in 2015, Tyler Hoss, the son of another senior technician and 25-year Alltech veteran Steve Hoss, joined the company.

Steve, who handles projects for Stormont Vail and Advisors Excel, mentored Tyler, training him how to do everything from wire pulling and terminating fiber ends to building IT closets.

Tyler is a great kid. I suggested he apply to work at Alltech because I knew he would be a good fit,” Steve said. “But it was more than that. This job has let me be part of something great—a great company, great projects and a great future. I wanted Tyler to be part of that, too.”

Father and son have been working side by side for the past eight years, developing a working relationship that transcends mentor and student.

I love working with Tyler every day. I get to see him when he succeeds, and I am there to help him learn a little patience when things don’t go according to plan.”

Brad and Kaleb Harrison Barr

The third son to enter the business was Kaleb Harrison Barr, son of Brad Harrison Barr. Brad hadn’t been with Alltech as long as Henry and Steve, but the four years he had spent building the security side of the business was all the time he needed to know Alltech would be a great place for Kaleb to build a career.

I saw all these long-term employees, some of them bringing their own sons on board to learn the technology involved in this industry, and I told Kaleb this business had amazing long-term potential,” Brad said.

Kaleb worked for four years as a cable puller when he first started with Alltech, so he didn’t work directly with his father. But Brad says that might have actually been a blessing.

I have incredibly high expectations for myself and for my son,” Brad said. “When Mike hired him, I told him that the bar was set high, and I expected him to make me proud.”

Kaleb more than met the challenge, working his way from cable to puller to a full-time member of the security division, which means he now reports to his father.

Mike and Luke Rothfuss

The fourth father/son combination is actually Mike and his son, Luke. Even though Luke is still in school, studying mechanical engineering, he has been working at Alltech during the summers and holiday breaks for the past four years. While Mike thinks his son should spread his wings and explore other opportunities after graduation, his work family hopes Luke will come home to roost.

I think Luke will run this company someday,” Steve said. “I hope so, anyway.”

Taking Care of Family

No matter what the future holds, one thing is clear right now: Alltech employees are more than just people doing their jobs—they are part of the Alltech family.

We all care about each other here,” Mike said. “We know when something is off, or someone has something going on because we probably spend more time with our coworkers than some of us do with our families. We may poke our noses into places they don’t belong sometimes, but that is what families do. Because we care.”

Mike isn’t the only one who feels like Alltech is family.

Alltech is a personal company, and Mike is not your typical boss who just wants output,” Brad said. “He is generous and kind and rewards people for individual effort. And he gives everyone a voice when it comes to the business. Guys in the field can question the way a job is going and make suggestions for a way to do it better if they see one.”

Steve agrees, but says it is more than just caring about others.

Mike gives us what we need to be successful. He invests in us as employees and treats us with respect,” he said. “But most of all, he trusts us to do our jobs and doesn’t get in the way.”

Share this post: