A race that spans generations at Hans Rudolph

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Monday, June 26, 2017

SHAWNEE, Kan. – In the modern global economy, it’s nearly impossible when you’re young to know where you’re going to end up working someday. But if you’re Hans Rudolph’s son, or grandsons, or great-grandson, you might have a pretty good idea.

In the early 1930s, Hans Rudolph designed and built his first respiratory valves for use in pulmonary function studies. In 1960, he and his son, John, formed Hans Rudolph, Inc., and while Hans died in 1994 at the age of 90, his son is still at it, as are his grandsons, Kelly and Kevin, and his great-grandson, Nick.

According to Kelly Rudolph, the company’s current president, he and his brother grew up working in their grandfather’s shop and, after getting some experience out in the business world, they came back to work at the family business in their mid-20s.

As Kelly sees it, what sets a family business apart is that “many customers worldwide really like and trust the product and relationship better when dealing with a family business, but more importantly being a family business allows us to control our product quality and service and make changes faster and easier” when they get feedback from customers on any of their products.

The advantages of a family business, Rudolph said, are that “we control our own destiny, while working for ourselves and determining what are the priorities with all phases of designing, prototyping, manufacturing, marketing and selling.”

Still, doing things all yourself comes with challenges, as there’s significant risk and money required to take a new design from concept to worldwide distribution.

But while many things have changed over the generations, one thing that hasn’t, Rudolph says, is the need for “hard work and long hours and applying yourself and staying focused.”

“We’re just continually trying to work harder, faster, and smarter than the previous generation,” he said.