Mark Keymer started Malco Products in a garage 73 years ago. More than seven decades later, his legacy – and that of his family’s — lives on at Malco, and exemplified in our employee-ownership structure and our commitment to innovation, safety and quality.
The Keymers at Malco
In 1950, Mark Keymer decided to switch careers. Until then, he had worked as a steel supply salesman but decided to get into manufacturing after inventing a pipe crimper for the “new” (at the time!) sheet metal ductwork being used in HVAC systems.
This passion for invention sparked what has become the Malco of today and he was posthumously honored in 2007 for his contributions by being inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame.
During the early days, Mark and Malco matriarch, Dorothy Keymer, had four sons while starting up the business, working out of a garage and the kitchen table. This commitment to family and work certainly influenced their children, because to their lifelong pride, each son decided to follow in their parents’ footsteps, which is how Gerry, Kevin, Paul and Dave came to devote their careers to Malco and the trades.
Son Gerry Keymer notes how young he was when he became interested in what his dad was up to: “I remember being a small child sitting on the stairs of the basement, and they needed to do some welding for a product, so they unplugged the dryer and plugged the welder in the dryer outlet. They were shooting sparks all over the basement. That was pretty exciting stuff for a young child watching.”
Gerry was the son who was the first to kickstart the ESOP process for Malco, and served as Malco’s vice president and then president. Son Paul worked at Malco for many years, eventually becoming the CEO while also raising guide dogs on the side. Dave Keymer followed his dad’s footsteps by working as Malco’s sales manager, and son Kevin, who was known as “the technical one,” was the first engineer at Malco.
Making Sure that Malco is Employee Owned
Perhaps one of the largest and longest-lasting impacts of the Keymer family, is that Malco is now 100% employee-owned through our Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). While Malco did begin as a private family business, the founding family didn’t want the business’ success to only benefit blood relations, which is why Gerry, Kevin, Dave and Paul Keymer sold their shares of the company and launched the ESOP process in 1999. Now, 24 years later, every employee benefits from Malco’s success because they’re the ones building Malco’s future.
Why did they do it? According to Paul Keymer, “ESOPs do great when the employees have stake in the output of the business. The motivation is off the charts. It’s a work environment where they’re working for themselves, just like sole proprietors.”
As Paul Keymer said, “Malco is and will continue to be one of the best places in the world to work. The employees always come first. They’re the ones that make it all happen. They are the company.”
What Malco Team Members Say
We asked our team what the Keymers meant to them and what they feel the family’s legacy is on the business. Employees responded saying that “employees felt like family members” and people felt “treated like family members” by the Keymers. They also remember how generous they were, especially with the decision to make Malco an ESOP. Across the board, Malco employees say that the core values the Keymers instilled are still with the company today, they’re “proud to say we work at Malco” and see Malco as “a symbol of integrity.”
The Future of Malco is Bright
The hope of any family-run business is that it lives on beyond its founding family. Malco certainly fulfills that hope and the future is bright.
“I am so grateful for the strong foundation the Keymer family built at Malco, including some very strong values that today build the basis for our official Core Values: Together, we ARE Malco – Achieving Results, Respecting Others and Engineering Solutions,” said president and CEO Rich Benninghoff.
Today, Malco’s Core Values are celebrated with an internal awards program for exceptional employees who embody these values – and what is the name of that program? The Keymer Awards, of course! Check out some of the recent winners here.
The love of the trades, passion for invention and commitment to doing right by employees continues and will ensure that Malco is strong and continues to grow for the next 10, 50 and hundred years. From the current Malco team, “thank you” to the Keymer family for building a strong foundation for Malco.