A Conversation with … Molly Kellogg, Hubbard-Hall

Hubbard-Hall promoted Molly Kellogg to President and CEO upon the retirement of Andrew Skipp; both are 6th generation family members of the company whose roots date to 1849

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It wasn’t too much of a surprise when Hubbard-Hall promoted Molly Kellogg to President and CEO upon the retirement of Andrew Skipp. Both are 6th generation family members of the company, whose roots date to 1849. We caught up with Molly after she finished a 7 a.m. pickup hockey game, and spoke to the mother of four about her new challenges in running the company.

 

How long have you been thinking about and preparing to become president of Hubbard-Hall?

MK: As a child, I used to go into the office on Saturdays with my father with no greater ambition than playing with the switchboard and racing wheeled chairs up and down the tiled hallways. But once I finished business school in 1993 and was given the opportunity to run the profit center, my goals were set. Like many in family businesses, I have worked in various departments in the company, from blending chemicals in our manufacturing department to customer service and outside sales. I used to love to drive the forklift and unload the occasional late delivery, but they don’t let me do that anymore.

 

Gerry Mastropietro is your COO, a new position to oversee daily operations. What do you see your role as president being?

MK: My primary job is to grow the business in a sustainable way so that it’s healthy and profitable for the next generation, whether it’s my own children or the children of our other employees. I will focus externally on understanding emerging customer needs and internally on driving a lean mindset. In other words, my role is strategy, culture and growth.

 

What challenges lie ahead for Hubbard-Hall and your industry in general? How will you solve them?

MK: I see as many opportunities as challenges. Our fate is linked with the fate of durable goods manufacturing in the U.S., and that arena looks solid in the near term. Our mission is to help keep that part of the economy healthy, and I have seen countless examples of how we have used expertise and or chemistry to help industrial manufacturers drive more money to their bottom line. I spoke to a small plater in New England after we switched him from a commodity waste treatment to a specialty product, resulting in a $10,000 a year savings. It meant he could now buy a piece of capital equipment that he needed to expand his business. That’s exactly what we need to do for every customer. So, the challenges of any plating company or surface preparation operation are our challenges. One that comes immediately to mind is energy cost; many of our customers have utility costs upward of $50,000 per month. What if we could help lower that cost through new chemistry or processes? What a great story to tell.

 

Where do you see growth potential for Hubbard-Hall?

MK: We have a pretty aggressive growth target this year, and are looking to achieve most of that in the Eastern half of the U.S. We are also teaming up with a new partner in Mexico and see great potential there. And we are very interested in acquisitions. We’d love to find a bolt-on specialty chemical company that offers some niche products for surface preparation.

 

You dabbled in politics early in your career, and worked on some high-level campaigns. Any interest someday in seeking public office?

MK: That’s kind of like wanting to eat sausage after you see how it’s made. No thanks!

 

You played hockey in college, and still play recreationally today. Why do you still love to play, and what has the sport taught you?

MK: I think hockey is one of the all-time best sports around, and the women’s game in particular is probably a purer form of the game because it requires finesse over physicality. And as for life lessons—when you fall down, get up quickly. I also coach an under-14 girls’ team and find that role similar to my new role as CEO. I’m not on the ice making the plays anymore, but if I do my job well, whether it’s the corner office or behind the bench, my team has to understand the game plan and have the tools to compete with excellence.

 

Get to know Molly

Family: Married, four children, including identical twins born on different days.

Favorite hobby: Hockey!

Favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption

Favorite book: Love to read. Last great book was Bringing up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

What’s playing in your car CD/radio: JamOn station from Sirius XM