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Ann Arbor Spark

March 20, 2018

Livingston Company Uses Culture to Leverage Success

In 2017, Armor Protective Packaging was named one of the “Cool Places to Work” by Crain’s Detroit Business and in 2015 it was named one of “50 Companies to Watch” by Michigan Celebrates Small Business. Given these accolades, SPARK’s Livingston County team was excited to sit down with Dave Yancho to learn more about what sets his company apart and what drives the company’s success.

Dave and his wife are Livingston County residents, with two children at Hartland High School and one at Hartland Middle School. Dave has always been interested in entrepreneurship, which is what ultimately led him to be part-owner of Armor Protective Packaging.
He first noticed an ad in the paper for a sales rep position at SKS Industries in 1999 (the name was changed to Armor Protective Packaging in 2004). After spending years at Fortune 100 companies, Dave was ready for a position that was more entrepreneurial with less bureaucracy. He started at Armor Protective Packaging as a sales rep, and over time, advanced in his role and became a sales manager. In the early 2000s, the owner of the company, John Holden, began to scale back his position until 2007, when he started to sell the company to Dave and his partner, Robin McConnell. As Co-owner, Dave works closely with the day-to-day operations at Armor Protective Packaging and knows the company inside and out.
Armor Protective Packaging develops corrosion management systems or, as Dave explained in simpler terms, “rust prevention, rust removal….. good old-fashioned rust. Any kind of rust.” Armor Protective Packaging applies a rust-preventative chemical treatment on packaging, making the company a part chemical, part packaging hybrid. It has both B2B and consumer products, with packaging to protect industrial components and a rust removal product you can find at your local AutoZone and Home Depot. B2B customers range from major OEMs like General Motors, Ford, Nissan, and John Deere, down to small machine shops —  they even offer protection for guitar strings that could corrode. The consumer line is great for anyone who is working in their garage on a car, bike, boat — anything that may need rust removal.
While Armor Protective Packaging creates a fantastic product, their culture is what has made it possible for Dave to lead, retain, and recruit a skilled and diverse talent pool.
“We are always looking for the right people to get on the bus. Once we have the right people on the bus, sometimes we find they are in the wrong seat, so then we work really hard to find the best position for them.”
One thing that is critical to maintaining the culture is the company’s core values. Everyone within the company accomplishes this by evaluating decisions according to well-defined company values. “Our values are relationships first, then profits will follow,” said Dave. “Good is the enemy of great, delight the customer, and be ‘auFUNtic’ —  that’s being authentic and having fun at the same time.” These core values help Armor Protective Packaging retain good people and have people on the team who really enjoy working there.

Dave’s team includes a large number of millennial employees, a difficult demographic for companies to retain. However, a collaborative environment makes Armor Protective Packaging an attractive place to work across generations. Opportunities to be a part of a team are particularly attractive for millennials, as Dave noted, “They want to be a part of something greater than themselves. You have to challenge them, give them something more than just a paycheck and a job.”
Armor Protective Packaging is an innovative company with a fantastic model for fostering teamwork and delivering excellent customer service. Its focus on culture and employee development has led to individual and company-wide growth and success. It was a pleasure getting to know Dave and learning more about what makes Armor Protective Packaging a recognized leader in company culture, as well as rust eradication.