Field Trip to Radio Flyer, Inc. - 92 Years Young
When Robert Pasin started classes for his Kellogg MBA in the 1990s, he did not expect his future title to be "Chief Wagon Officer". However, fast forward about twenty 20 years and that is the title he holds at Radio Flyer, Inc, the family business founded by his grandfather in Chicago in 1923. Robert's title indicates the creative whimsy that employees have at the firm, and the spirit of fun that children have with the riding-toy products -- from the historic, iconic red metal Radio Flyer wagon to 2014 innovation-award-wining Ziggle.
In October, Robert and Radio Flyer hosted a group of Kellogg students from the EMBA, Full-time and Part-time programs, plus Center for Family Enterprises Co-Director Justin Craig, Lecturer Amy Schuman, and Associate Director Carol Zsolnay. They were treated to a discussion by Pasin of his path to leadership and his company's innovation pathway within the business.
A full-time MBA student remarked, "What most impressed me was the warm, creative, and collaborative culture that the Chief Wagon Officer helped to create. With his vision and dedication, he transformed the firm from a steel-stamping, limited-SKU plant to an imaginative design shop that inspires kids daily! As a leader of a company with a known brand, Robert is humble and approachable."
An EMP student whose children have Radio Flyer products added, "Visiting Radio Flyer as an EMBA student was as much fun as riding on Radio Flyer vehicles is for kids."
Professor Craig said his main take-away from the visit was Pasin's reminder, paraphrased from a line in the Old Testament, that family business successor leaders need to remember, "We drink from wells we did not dig".