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125 Year Company History
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Introduction
Coming to America
Hard Work
Persistence
Second Generation
Great Depression
Home Front
Postwar World
Big Flood
Turning Point
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Leadership for the Future
Leadership for the Future
Robert Linsmayer's poor health started to slow him down in the late 1980s, but he kept coming to work every day. Finally, he decided it was time to step aside and, in 1990, resigned the presidency in favor of his son, while remaining chairman of the board. J. Nicholas “Nick" Linsmayer, the great-grandson of Eugene Villaume, took charge of an organization that had successfully gone through many transitions. It was divided into two distinct divisions and, since they had different business cycles, the company generally stayed busy year-round. The Innovative Wood Packaging Division of Villaume manufactures boxes, pallets, and specialty wood products and was part of a global market. The Truss Design and Engineering Division, the larger of the two in terms of sales revenue, designs and manufactures roof and floor trusses, which were regionally marketed in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas.
But the corporation was facing a major problem. After achieving growth of fifty-three percent over a five-year period, the company was operating at maximum capacity. "We were running on the edge during 1994, and by the beginning of 1995," Nick said, "we were very concerned about our capability for future growth." New equipment was needed to sustain the dramatic rate of increase. Consequently the company decided to become a test site for the newly invented, Auto-Omni, a computer-controlled saw that had the ability to track functions at a rate of more than 300 setups per shift, with each setup taking only ten to thirty seconds to program. This timesaving was crucial because it allowed workers to be far more productive. Trusses for modem construction came in hundreds of different designs and sizes and, according to Nick Linsmayer, ninety-nine percent of the 130,000 roof trusses that Villaume turned out each year were made to order. "Roofs are now like snowflakes-no two alike and Auto-Omni is part of the evolution from conventional roofs to today's variations." With the sophistication of computer software and equipment, we are able to create even more intricate designs satisfying the customer, building inspectors, contractors and subcontractors, meeting all codes and giving everyone a certain sense of security. As Villaume Industries enters its 125th year, Nick Linsmayer can't help but think about its history as well as its future. "I plan to see this business grow into the next generation of our family," he remarked. He summed up his view of the company and the family behind it saying:
“The computer-controlled saw is just one example of my family's commitment to innovation, a quality I learned from my great-grandfather. His spirit is my inspiration. Our success is due to the pioneering spirit and the hard work of our current 175 dedicated and experienced employees who follow in the footsteps of the thousands of Villaume employees who preceded them. Persistence is part of our commitment to doing better. We were here at the beginning of St. Paul and we are still here. We are going to stay the course.”