Young branch manager finds opportunity, future in family business
Today, Bejac has six locations and offers custom demolition, construction, recycling and forestry equipment. But back in 1953, it was founded by Barlet’s grandfather and great-grandfather as an underground pipeline company in Southern California’s Placentia.
Barlet’s father later became company president in the 1980s, and its main office remains in Southern California. But when Barlet went to college up north at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, he had no desire to return to his southern roots in the state.
But that didn't reduce his passion for the family business, where he worked as branch manager of one of the family businesses sites. Since 2010, Barlet has been a member of the team at Bejac’s Sacramento facility. He started as a salesman and became branch manager after completing AED’s branch management certification course online -- education that’s offered through The AED Foundation.
After majoring in agricultural business in college, he did his “own thing” for a few years, work that involved a job at a small trucking company in Salinas, California, followed by work for a large fresh vegetable grower/shipper. Meanwhile, he said Bejac expanded to Northern California in 2008, and in 2010, the opportunity arose for him to move to the Sacramento site as a salesman, where the focus was composting and green waste recycling equipment, an area he said was “very new and of interest” to him.
“All in all, the opportunity was right,” he said. “I don’t know if I would have gone back to Southern California. The decision to come up here (to Sacramento) was easier.”
Now, the Sacramento facility is the company’s second-largest site, but when Barlet took the sales job, he was one of just four employees. There are 15 today, and he said most of that growth happened in last three years.
Once he started seeing growth during his sales role, he said he started to “look down the road” and spoke to the general manager and his dad about transitioning into the operations side of the business, which led to the decision to start AED's Branch Management course.
The decision came, he said, after the site had grown enough to need more supervision, and because it’s a family business, he hoped there was a “strong future” there for him. And, since he knew he eventually wanted to transition into operations, it didn’t make sense to spend multiple years building and developing trust and relationships that are required for sales and then moving on.
After roughly a year of online certification and job transition from sales and “doing a little bit of everything,” Barlet took over as branch manager full time. Along with the service manager, they make sure rentals and service are being satisfied. He also coordinates with Bejac’s other branches so equipment that leaves the facilities has the same look and quality, and the company is presenting a consistent product. He also handles issues such as personnel management and he visits the company’s other sites monthly.
From here, he hopes to become more and more involved in big-picture decision-making. He said he’s already been exposed to that a little, such as by joining his father and general manager on visits to meet with potential new manufacturers.
“I’ve been exposed to Bejac forever,” he said. “But I want to continue to learn and further understand the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs.’”
And while he said his father has time before he’s ready to step down, Barlet said he hopes to one day be one of the company’s primary decision makers and perhaps its next president.