Alicia Hupp, the president of Sweet Manufacturing, will be inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame on May 16, along with Roberta Kaufman Greenland — who will be inducted posthumously.
Hupp is the second in her family to be inducted. Her father, Dean Sweet, was inducted into the hall of fame in 2005.
Sweet Manufacturing, founded in 1955, manufactures and sells agricultural and industrial equipment, including bucket elevators, support structures and conveyors. It employs 65 people in Springfield and has clients in more than 40 countries.
Hupp became president and CEO of the company in 2005, but she started working at Sweet in 1986 after graduating from Wittenberg University.
Answers have been edited for space.
Q: How does your leadership style differ from your father’s?
A: My main core value that I live and breathe by is to be honest and ethical. What I do differently from my dad is probably my management style. I have a little bit more of the maternal management style and I think while I can still effectively manage the company and uphold our corporate policies and rules and regulations. At the same time, I can be a good listener and try to be flexible with the employees.
Q: Was it challenging to be a female leader in the grain elevator industry?
A: When I first started in leadership of the company, it was challenging being a woman. There weren’t very many women in the industry and not accepted, especially in the international markets … As years have passed, women have become more active in the business, not only domestically but internationally. Some clients are women-owned businesses like feed stores in Latin America.
Q: How important is the international market to your business?
A: It’s been very important to us, we started developing international markets in 1982. It’s important to Sweet not only for our exposure and recognition as a company, but to grow the business beyond our domestic sales. Over the last 30 years a lot of the business was through international trade … and we had a lot of support in Ohio. International sales make up about 50 percent of sales.
Q: How did Sweet weather the Great Recession?
A: Fortunately, the recession and downfall of the economy hasn’t had much of an effect and we’ve been able to continue growth in sales, and I think it’s because of our business: agriculture. Everybody has to eat … so there will be a need for our equipment.
Q: Why was it important for you to continue to invest in Springfield?
A: Number one, this is where the business was founded, and I was born and raised here. Besides the physical location, there’s the support we get from Ohio. I would say business partners we have in the community, as well, we depend on Springfield to help support our business. A lot of our vendors are here locally.
Q: What does is it mean to you to be inducted in the same Hall of Fame as your father?
A: When (Junior Achievement) came and informed me, first of all I couldn’t be more honored with this prestigious award. But my first thought was my dad, and how he received this honor, and how I wish he was alive so he could see we had both won this honor. I was very overwhelmed and very honored. I still have to pinch myself!
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