The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is funded solely by freedom loving individualsand organizations that find value in its conviction of free-market principles. For this issue of IMPACT, we hear from Ron Beebe.
MCPP: Tell us about yourself.
Ron Beebe: I started working at an early age for my father doing odd jobs. I started out mowing grass at 13. My career path took a turn after that. I went from grass clippings to selling cleaning products. I sold a product called Swipe. By the time I was 17, I had 35 people working for me selling Swipe. I put on meetings and recruited salespeople. I didn’t know anything about accounting, so I set up my own accounting. I made sure the salespeople had integrity, and if the salesperson quit, I made sure to continue servicing the clients. Putting the customer first yielded positive results. It was a great learning experience for me.
I graduated from Central Michigan University in accounting. I knew I wanted to be a CPA at 14 years old. I always had a thirst for business. I liked the aspects of business where you get to make decisions and live with the results. That thrilled me. I worked at Arthur Andersen in the audit department. I made recommendations to make businesses better. As a young staff person, I found ways to improve the organization and see the fruit of the results. It’s all about helping people.
I was drafted in the Vietnam War and left for service, but never actually went overseas to fight. The war had wound down at that point. However, I became a drill sergeant. I was good at polishing boots and convincing others to take pride in their job. I learned leadership skills there and the value of diversity. Gaining perspectives from multiple sources is valuable.
I’ve worked in several industries and at many locations. Most recently I’ve been purchasing businesses. I’m the chairman of Awrey Bakeries in Livonia, Milling Precision in Kansas, Griffin Thermal Products in South Carolina, and CEO at Euclid Industries in Bay City.
Awrey Bakery is a good success story. I purchased it a year ago. It’s a 112-year-old bakery. It fell on hard times and went under, laying off all of the employees. But we now have 100 workers back on the job.
It hasn’t been easy, but hard work and persistence pays off. Within the last few weeks, Central Michigan University named me its 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year.
MCPP: Are you originally from Michigan?
Beebe: Yes. I’m from Flushing, west of Flint. My mother was born on a family farm there and never left. My grandfather started a newspaper there. He was an entrepreneur from Hastings and later moved to Fenton. He did a lot of farming, mostly to feed the family and animals. He was land rich and money poor. He was honest and lived by principles. I see the same philosophy at the Mackinac Center.
MCPP: What value do you find in the Mackinac Center?
Beebe: The Mackinac Center is the voice of common sense in public policy. For a long time it has been sounding the voice of reason that often escapes our political system.
The Mackinac Center supports the idea that everyone should have the opportunity to develop an idea and invest time, talent and treasure into it. Everyone should be able to live that dream.
MCPP: Tell us about your family.
Beebe: I live in Midland with my wife of 41 years. We have four grown children and seven grandchildren.
MCPP: What policies would you change to make Michigan a better place?
Beebe: We have a state government and federal government that are too big. Government has poured billions of tax dollars into our state and made things worse. We need to focus on policies that give people more opportunity to succeed rather than create an environment where people are more dependent on the government.