Betts Named Top Family Business
Betts Spring Company named top family business
With six generations in business, spring maker continues 141-year legacy
From the Business Journal – January 22, 2011
While most companies can attest to the current recession being the most challenging period in their survival, Betts Spring Company is a little different.
For this 141-year-old company originally founded in the Bay Area, the 1903 San Francisco Earthquake was just as challenging, completely destroying the company’s plant and equipment used to make springs for carriages, streetcars and wagons of every kind.
Since then the company has expanded, and now makes suspension parts for trucks instead of wagons. But the same family continues the legacy of William Michael Betts, an English steel craftsman who came to the U.S. in 1860 looking for new opportunities.
Now with six generations in business, Betts Spring has cemented itself as a leader in its market. Current President Mike Betts, the fifth-generation owner, oversaw the company’s move from San Leandro to Fresno last year. While Betts Spring has had a presence in Fresno for almost 20 years, Betts said moving the corporate headquarters was intended to consolidate freight costs and give workers a more-affordable cost of living.
Now Betts Spring Company joins other local businesses whose start can be traced to the pioneering days of California. In fact, they are the oldest in the Central Valley, according to The Business Journal’s most recent list of oldest family-owned businesses.
“While we have been part of the Fresno business community for nearly two decades, we recognize that Betts is a relative newcomer when compared to other well-known businesses in the area,” Mike said. “We believe our recognition is a testimony to the ethics and dedication of our founder and the five generations of family owner/leaders that have followed.”
The sixth generation of the Betts Family business is currently learning the ropes. Bill Betts, Mike’s son, looks to some day take the helm of the company from his current job as manager of procurement and logistics. Mike said Bill’s path through the company was similar to his — both worked in some aspect of the business at age 15.
“I knew from his first day he worked that he was proud to be part of something special,” Mike said of his son.
In addition to winning the California Family Business of the Year Award, the Betts Family has much more to celebrate. Bill and his wife Lizzie just started their young family with the birth of a daughter, Hadley. So it’s very possible a seventh generation of Betts Spring is waiting in the wings.
While Betts Spring is a proven operator in their industry — and their many manufacturing awards and recognitions prove it — being known as a family business is also important.
“We have found that our passion for family business has been a great differentiator from others in our market space,” Mike said.