What’s it take to receive the Technological Services of the Year Excellence Award? Read our interview with Bob Cohen, President of Acme Corrugated, as we highlight one of the excellent small businesses that drive the Greater Philadelphia region.
Describe the moment that you decided to go into business for yourself. How did you feel once you made the decision?
In the latter part of my Sophomore year in High School my father took ill. My dad was an independent businessman who had limited staff and really no one capable of making executive decisions. When he took ill it was the responsibility of my brother-a recent college graduate, and a cousin, to continue the business. My father was left incapacitated and unable to continue working. I continued my education at Penn State University as Liberal Arts major with a desire to teach history. In my sophomore year my father passed away. I was able to complete my education but it was quite apparent that there was a need for my help in the business. The family and our professional advisors asked me to step in. After a short stint in the army I began my career in 1969 which continues to this day.
I have never regretted the decision that seemed forced (by unfortunate events) at the time. I have enjoyed the dynamics of my family business. I have been aided in my overall success by a progression of people whose skill set have complimented mine. I have flourished in the give and take of business transactions. I learned to operate on the “fly” because I had no choice. There was literally no one to mentor me. My brother was an instinctive businessman but had little experience. In fact in the beginning when people inquired who the boss was I usually answered he wasn’t in. My fear was that my youth would mitigate against me. I never let doubt enter into my business dealings. I was always comfortable making decisions. Any deficiencies I had in knowledge I made up in hard work-and a willingness to make mistakes and learn from them. I have enjoyed the 46 years of business interactions- some complicated and others less so. Today my greatest pleasure is the development of my younger staff which includes my two older sons.
What makes your business model special?
My company conducts its business in a mature industrial sector. The sector is dominated by 5 major producers who own 80% of the pape