Leading the Next Generation

20191027 192108 pic 856982880 300x195 Molly Kellogg, who recently took over as chairman of the board of directors from her father Charles at Hubbard-Hall, stands in an area of the shop where she worked as a teenager. Photo Credit: Steven Valenti; Republican-American

Kellogg is first female head of 170-year-old family business
By Harrison Connery; Republican-American

WATERBURY — Hubbard- Hall President and CEO Molly Kellogg knows all 67 people working at the company’s South Leonard Street headquarters by name.

Walking through the 65,000-square-foot facility her family-owned business built in 1960, Kellogg banters with employees like Rafael Montes DeOca, who’s known for singing in the warehouse. “We can hear him in the morning through the walls,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg is the sixth generation of family leadership at Hubbard-Hall. She looks and acts the part of executive: simple black dress, bold dark frames on her glasses, soft spoken but confident. Kellogg, 53, became the first female CEO in the company’s 170-year history when she took over for her cousin Andrew Skipp in 2014. Last month, she succeeded her 88year-old father Charles Kellogg as chairman of the board.

Hubbard-Hall has a varied product line, but in its current incarnation, it makes chemicals for surface finishing, cleaning chemicals for industry and chemical formulas that treat waste water.

“It’s not quite a cake mix, but you take some dry ingredients, you add some water and you come up with a new formula,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg initially was not on a direct path to continue the family legacy. She was a comparative literature major at Princeton University, and she never took a chemistry course. Then she earned her MBA from INSEAD, an international business school in Fontainebleau, France, and took over the company’s Wilmington, Mass., location. There, she said, she “got bitten by the bug.”

Her first big initiative as CEO was to improve company culture by encouraging her employees to be candid, a policy which she says increased trust among colleagues and allows a good idea to come to the forefront regardless of who proposes it.

“You can have the best players in the world, but a great team starts in the locker room,” she said, drawing a parallel to ice hockey, a passion she discovered at Princeton. “All of a sudden we’re getting quickly to the wicked problems versus a more political atmosphere where people talk after meetings or in corners.”

Her first project as board chairman, Aquaease Infinity, launches in two weeks via a webinar. It’s a metal cleaner that reduces the amount of chemicals needed in the cleaning process by about 35%. It’s a move that will likely hurt the company’s bottom line in the short term, but that’s a sacrifice Kellogg is willing to make if it ensures Hubbard-Hall will be around for the next generation.

“In the long term, it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” she said. “My secret, long-term strategy is how do we work ourselves out of business? How do we help our customers use less chemistry? How do we help them make the product they want to make in the most efficient, economical, environmentally- sustainable kind of way?”

“Thank goodness we’re not a public company that’s got to increase quarter-over-quarter. That’s never made sense to me,” she said.

Kellogg said taking over as head of the board of directors has changed her perspective.

“It’s coming off the ice and onto the bench,” Kellogg said, dipping back into her hockey metaphor. “It’s just getting a little bit higher perspective on the business, or the game, so that I can make the right decisions over the long-term.”

Hubbard-Hall was founded in 1849 under the name Apothecaries Hall. By 1889, it had moved into the corner of Bank Street and South Main Street, where the Flatiron Building, known as the Apothecaries Hall building, now stands. A photograph from the era in Charles Kellogg’s office shows a horse and buggy trudging down Bank Street.

“That was our delivery vehicle way back when,” Molly Kellogg said.

Kellogg is aware of Hubbard- Hall’s history and its status as a Waterbury institution. Outside her office, a handwritten ledger book is on display, showing carefully logged payments made over a century ago. The chemical company has outlasted many other legacy businesses in the city — Uniroyal, American Brass and Scovill Manufacturing have all come and gone. Hubbard-Hall saw Waterbury rise and fall around it.

The company’s roots have compelled its leaders to be active in the community.

“I’ve seen it go down and then come up,” Charles Kellogg said, reflecting on Waterbury’s fortunes over the span of his 61 years at the company. He served on a state oversight board 15 years ago that helped keep the city out of insolvency by “maintaining their debt; municipalities love to spend money,” he said.

Molly Kellogg said Hubbard- Hall has been a top five donor to the United Way for the past decade.

“Dad’s been involved in every board in Connecticut,” Kellogg said. “The lesson to me was you’ve got to show up for things, you’ve got to engage, you’ve got to be participant, because that’s what you owe your community.”

Hubbard-Hall recently tied sales of its AquaPure waste water treatment products to donations for clean drinking water to a school in Kenya. That was done at the behest of Faith Mierzejewski, a chemical engineer hired full-time three years ago out of the University of Connecticut.

On a recent afternoon at Hubbard-Hall in Waterbury, Waste Water Specialist David Joyce mixed AquaPure chemicals into a mud-brown concoction.

Treating waste water, and “having that expertise that we can bring tank-side to our customer,” has become a big part of Hubbard-Hall’s business, said CEO Molly Kellogg.

Joyce said the client’s water was over the limit for nickel set by the municipality. Hubbard-Hall was hired to produce a custom formula that would separate the nickel from the water so it could be jettisoned into the local sewer. As Joyce added clear drops of liquid to the beaker, the water’s color changed to black and then a deep, dirty green. “One thing at a time, I keep changing, changing,” Joyce said.

The dark green pollutants solidified into strands and settled to the bottom, leaving clear water at the top.

The chemical company survives by reinventing itself.

“We are the story of the Connecticut economy. We started as a fertilizer company, then we were a paint company, whatever the little local economy was that we could service logistically and efficiently,” Kellogg said. “Brass Capital of the world, that really got us into industrial chemicals. Industries left, they went South, we went South; we’ve gone to China as our customers have gone to China. We tend to follow them.”

When Charles Kellogg joined the family business in the 1950s, Hubbard-Hall was heavily invested in producing nickel anodes for the plating industry and agricultural chemistry.

Now, they’re down to one “ag chem” product.

“We do some blending for a fertilizer,” Kellogg said. “For medical marijuana.”

Hundreds of barrels of chemicals are stacked ceiling high in the company’s warehouse, where workers mix the product and prepare it for shipping. Kellogg worked there as a teenager, dragging thousands of pounds of chemicals into mixing kettles nearly a story tall. “I’ve worked in just about every job: customer service, manufacturing, I’ve driven a forklift,” she said. “It’s given me a holistic view, which is imperative.”

Though Kellogg says Hubbard- Hall will “never leave Waterbury,” their next expansion likely will go to a state with a more business friendly climate, she said. Over the years, Hubbard-Hall has expanded into other states, including South Carolina and Massachusetts, to follow the industries it serves. They employ 105 people companywide.

“Will our next big growth spurt come in Connecticut? Probably not,” Kellogg said. “We are looking actively.”

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Excerpt: Kellogg is first female head of 170-year-old family business
By Harrison Connery; Republican-American

WATERBURY — Hubbard- Hall President and CEO Molly Kellogg knows all 67 people working at the company’s South Leonard Street headquarters by name.

Kellogg is the sixth generation of family leadership at Hubbard-Hall. She looks and acts the part of executive: simple black dress, bold dark frames on her glasses, soft spoken but confident. Kellogg, 53, became the first female CEO in the company’s 170-year history when she took over for her cousin Andrew Skipp in 2014. Last month, she succeeded her 88 year-old father Charles Kellogg as chairman of the board.

“My secret, long-term strategy is how do we work ourselves out of business? How do we help our customers use less chemistry? How do we help them make the product they want to make in the most efficient, economical, environmentally- sustainable kind of way?”


Full Text:

20191027 192108 pic 856982880 300x195 Molly Kellogg, who recently took over as chairman of the board of directors from her father Charles at Hubbard-Hall, stands in an area of the shop where she worked as a teenager. Photo Credit: Steven Valenti; Republican-American

Kellogg is first female head of 170-year-old family business
By Harrison Connery; Republican-American

WATERBURY — Hubbard- Hall President and CEO Molly Kellogg knows all 67 people working at the company’s South Leonard Street headquarters by name.

Walking through the 65,000-square-foot facility her family-owned business built in 1960, Kellogg banters with employees like Rafael Montes DeOca, who’s known for singing in the warehouse. “We can hear him in the morning through the walls,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg is the sixth generation of family leadership at Hubbard-Hall. She looks and acts the part of executive: simple black dress, bold dark frames on her glasses, soft spoken but confident. Kellogg, 53, became the first female CEO in the company’s 170-year history when she took over for her cousin Andrew Skipp in 2014. Last month, she succeeded her 88year-old father Charles Kellogg as chairman of the board.

Hubbard-Hall has a varied product line, but in its current incarnation, it makes chemicals for surface finishing, cleaning chemicals for industry and chemical formulas that treat waste water.

“It’s not quite a cake mix, but you take some dry ingredients, you add some water and you come up with a new formula,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg initially was not on a direct path to continue the family legacy. She was a comparative literature major at Princeton University, and she never took a chemistry course. Then she earned her MBA from INSEAD, an international business school in Fontainebleau, France, and took over the company’s Wilmington, Mass., location. There, she said, she “got bitten by the bug.”

Her first big initiative as CEO was to improve company culture by encouraging her employees to be candid, a policy which she says increased trust among colleagues and allows a good idea to come to the forefront regardless of who proposes it.

“You can have the best players in the world, but a great team starts in the locker room,” she said, drawing a parallel to ice hockey, a passion she discovered at Princeton. “All of a sudden we’re getting quickly to the wicked problems versus a more political atmosphere where people talk after meetings or in corners.”

Her first project as board chairman, Aquaease Infinity, launches in two weeks via a webinar. It’s a metal cleaner that reduces the amount of chemicals needed in the cleaning process by about 35%. It’s a move that will likely hurt the company’s bottom line in the short term, but that’s a sacrifice Kellogg is willing to make if it ensures Hubbard-Hall will be around for the next generation.

“In the long term, it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” she said. “My secret, long-term strategy is how do we work ourselves out of business? How do we help our customers use less chemistry? How do we help them make the product they want to make in the most efficient, economical, environmentally- sustainable kind of way?”

“Thank goodness we’re not a public company that’s got to increase quarter-over-quarter. That’s never made sense to me,” she said.

Kellogg said taking over as head of the board of directors has changed her perspective.

“It’s coming off the ice and onto the bench,” Kellogg said, dipping back into her hockey metaphor. “It’s just getting a little bit higher perspective on the business, or the game, so that I can make the right decisions over the long-term.”

Hubbard-Hall was founded in 1849 under the name Apothecaries Hall. By 1889, it had moved into the corner of Bank Street and South Main Street, where the Flatiron Building, known as the Apothecaries Hall building, now stands. A photograph from the era in Charles Kellogg’s office shows a horse and buggy trudging down Bank Street.

“That was our delivery vehicle way back when,” Molly Kellogg said.

Kellogg is aware of Hubbard- Hall’s history and its status as a Waterbury institution. Outside her office, a handwritten ledger book is on display, showing carefully logged payments made over a century ago. The chemical company has outlasted many other legacy businesses in the city — Uniroyal, American Brass and Scovill Manufacturing have all come and gone. Hubbard-Hall saw Waterbury rise and fall around it.

The company’s roots have compelled its leaders to be active in the community.

“I’ve seen it go down and then come up,” Charles Kellogg said, reflecting on Waterbury’s fortunes over the span of his 61 years at the company. He served on a state oversight board 15 years ago that helped keep the city out of insolvency by “maintaining their debt; municipalities love to spend money,” he said.

Molly Kellogg said Hubbard- Hall has been a top five donor to the United Way for the past decade.

“Dad’s been involved in every board in Connecticut,” Kellogg said. “The lesson to me was you’ve got to show up for things, you’ve got to engage, you’ve got to be participant, because that’s what you owe your community.”

Hubbard-Hall recently tied sales of its AquaPure waste water treatment products to donations for clean drinking water to a school in Kenya. That was done at the behest of Faith Mierzejewski, a chemical engineer hired full-time three years ago out of the University of Connecticut.

On a recent afternoon at Hubbard-Hall in Waterbury, Waste Water Specialist David Joyce mixed AquaPure chemicals into a mud-brown concoction.

Treating waste water, and “having that expertise that we can bring tank-side to our customer,” has become a big part of Hubbard-Hall’s business, said CEO Molly Kellogg.

Joyce said the client’s water was over the limit for nickel set by the municipality. Hubbard-Hall was hired to produce a custom formula that would separate the nickel from the water so it could be jettisoned into the local sewer. As Joyce added clear drops of liquid to the beaker, the water’s color changed to black and then a deep, dirty green. “One thing at a time, I keep changing, changing,” Joyce said.

The dark green pollutants solidified into strands and settled to the bottom, leaving clear water at the top.

The chemical company survives by reinventing itself.

“We are the story of the Connecticut economy. We started as a fertilizer company, then we were a paint company, whatever the little local economy was that we could service logistically and efficiently,” Kellogg said. “Brass Capital of the world, that really got us into industrial chemicals. Industries left, they went South, we went South; we’ve gone to China as our customers have gone to China. We tend to follow them.”

When Charles Kellogg joined the family business in the 1950s, Hubbard-Hall was heavily invested in producing nickel anodes for the plating industry and agricultural chemistry.

Now, they’re down to one “ag chem” product.

“We do some blending for a fertilizer,” Kellogg said. “For medical marijuana.”

Hundreds of barrels of chemicals are stacked ceiling high in the company’s warehouse, where workers mix the product and prepare it for shipping. Kellogg worked there as a teenager, dragging thousands of pounds of chemicals into mixing kettles nearly a story tall. “I’ve worked in just about every job: customer service, manufacturing, I’ve driven a forklift,” she said. “It’s given me a holistic view, which is imperative.”

Though Kellogg says Hubbard- Hall will “never leave Waterbury,” their next expansion likely will go to a state with a more business friendly climate, she said. Over the years, Hubbard-Hall has expanded into other states, including South Carolina and Massachusetts, to follow the industries it serves. They employ 105 people companywide.

“Will our next big growth spurt come in Connecticut? Probably not,” Kellogg said. “We are looking actively.”