A Woman’s Perspective on Business Success
In honor of International Women’s Day, which was earlier this month, we thought we would highlight one of our many borrowers managed and influenced by a strong female presence. Mary Benoit is President and manages the day to day operations of Mathias Lock and Key alongside her two son Benny and Michael Benoit. Mathias Lock and Key was established in 1901 by John Mathias, as a mechanical shop, focused on fixing just about anything mechanical or repairable. John left the shop to his nephew Steve Benoit Sr in 1951. Steve and his wife, Violet ran the business until 1981 when Mary and Steve Benoit Jr. took over. The business has changed over the years to address specific needs of their clients. By the time Steve and Mary took over the business it’s focus was on security, locks and safes.
As the President of Mathias Lock and Key, Mary explains that she has had a great experience leading the company. She contributes a lot of her experience to the fact that when she first took up the business, it was just her husband and herself with a couple of guys working for them. Mary was able to come into her leadership role gradually, she didn’t just jump in with 30 employees, all trying to figure out where each person should fit. She was able to gradually grow as a leader, earning the respect among her peers and colleagues. She attributes her success as a leader to making sure that everybody understands what their job is, and furthermore that they want to be doing that job.
In addition, the success and longevity of Mathias Lock and Key can be contributed to, their ability to modify their business plan in order to meet their customers’ needs. Mary admits that they are constantly analyzing their financials and operations and if services are 2% of their work or 3% of their revenue then maybe they shouldn’t be doing it anymore. Mary’s learned that it is important to spend your efforts and resources on products/ services that work. When asked about what advise she would share with business owners looking to expand or take over other businesses she replied:
Go with what you know:
Just because you’ve always wanted to be a baker, but you’re a printer, doesn’t mean it’ll work out. It could be a disaster.
Stick with what you know:
Being over anxious can mean you end up buying a business with either a lot of debt or a bad reputation. If you know the industry, you’ll know if it is too far in debt or you’ll know the reputation of the business before you buy it.
Don’t buy something you need to fix:
If the business has a bad reputation you’re better off buy a new location and expanding rather than trying to fix a bad reputation. With a new location there is nothing to fix, you can just build your business how you want.
Mary’s advice for fellow women looking to start or take over a business: “Go for it! Be educated and know what you’re talking about. That’s how you gain respect. You’ve got to have respect of your colleagues your peer to succeed. We all go through phases were we’re a little intimidated and we don’t know anything and then you go through phases where you think you know everything, get a little delusional and a little reckless and then as we mature we figure it out. Lastly, gain an education and have real realistic goals.”