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Marc A. Schupan

January 15, 2020

CEO, Schupan & Sons, Inc.

Marc Schupan is the CEO of Schupan & Sons Inc., a third-generation, diversified company that was founded in 1968. He was raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the oldest son with a younger brother and two younger sisters.

Marc grew up playing multiple sports. In high school he played basketball and football, eventually being inducted into the Loy Norrix High School Hall of Fame. Throughout high school and college, he held a number of jobs working part-time. Of which, included everything from grocery stores, factories, to security while in college. Marc has a strong understanding and appreciation of what it takes to have a chance to be successful and how important it is to have an ‘above expectations’ work ethic.

He graduated from Michigan State University with a Political Science degree and went an extra year and earned a teaching certificate. Marc also holds an advanced degree from Harvard Business School. In his early career, he taught high school government, history and economics for three years and also coached football, basketball, and baseball. He eventually took a leave of absence to help his father for a year with the business. His plan was to go to law school or try coaching basketball at a collegiate level. Marc’s father was 53 years old when he died unexpectedly in August of 1974, only three weeks after he started working for him.

He stepped in to run the small metal recycling company with six employees. The company has grown from under a million in sales in 1975, to approximately 450 million with 15 locations primarily in 4 states and doing business nationally and internationally. There are over 700 team members. The business today encompasses multiple business units including aluminum distribution and manufacturing, industrial recycling with aluminum focus, a brokerage office headquartered in Chicago with representatives throughout the United States, and electronics recycling and asset recovery. Schupan & Sons, Inc. also partners with Norwegian Company, Tomra, for beverage container recycling specializing in deposit states. Schupan & Sons is the largest independent beverage container recycler in the United States, with partial ownership of an aluminum melting operation.

The company’s values are directed to help employees grow and find success in the community. They also support philanthropic efforts including increased education opportunities for disadvantaged youth.

Marc is proud of their employees and confident in the next generation of leadership as they build a sustainable culture. His wife of 43 years, Jeanne, has been instrumental in their success. Values that have guided the company’s growth and business practices are stated on a 1941 calendar page, “There is nothing nearly as clever as honesty and sincerity”, something Marc finds particularly true.

Some awards Marc has received include the Kalamazoo Red Rose Rotary Lifetime Achievement Award, Big Brothers Big Sisters Lifetime Achievement Award and recognition from the National Philanthropic Association. He was also chosen as a national representative by CNBC’s Small Business Council. Marc is proud of the Michigan State Business Leadership Award he received.

Philosophy of Life

Dear Northwood Students,

Thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts, both personal and business with you. I have been told I am an entrepreneur. My father died unexpectedly when I was 26 years old. I stepped into a very small family business; not the future I was planning. I had three younger siblings, a young mother and a fragile business to take care of. The funeral was on Sunday and Monday I was at work and have been since 1974. My mantra was “failure is not an option,” and that is still true today.

Over the years, we have grown with many bumps along the way. The key to our success was surrounding ourselves with great employees-talented, dedicated and loyal. A quote we still use frequently was coined by a terrific leader in our company, Rich Holtz, “the man with the best army wins.” I truly believe culture does beat strategy every time. Do not be afraid to try new ventures but don’t bet the farm because you have fiduciary responsibilities to employees and customers.

We have grown from six employees to over six hundred, with five business units doing business worldwide.

Wayne Gretzky used to say, “I don’t go where the puck is, I go where it is going to be”. That philosophy indicates a need to be agile and we have never operated by “paralysis by analysis.” When we make a mistake, it is addressed. We believe in attacking the problem, not the person. This belief fosters a positive, creative environment for employees.

Listed below are a few values I use for both personal and business. My wife, Jeanne, and I have worked to instill these values in our children.

  • Integrity – Always tell the truth and your word is your bond.

  • Tenacity – When you get knocked down, you get back up and do not give up.

  • Compassion – It is important to care about others and try and make a positive difference.

If you have these values, you will be someone to be proud of. In my office, there is a framed page from a 1941 calendar that states, “There is nothing nearly so clever as Honesty and Sincerity.” That is how we treat our customers, employees and communities. Trying to outsmart your customers is not the way to be successful long term. It’s important to have a sense of humor. You will have challenges every day. You may feel like some days, the quote from Mother Teresa, “I know God will not give me more than I can handle, I just wish he did not trust me so much,” is very apropos. Your employees have to know that you care! Honesty and integrity is not a 90% or 95% trait, either you have it or you don’t. Until COVID-19, we had only laid off three employees for two months in 46 years. If I was a public company, I would have been fired long ago. To create loyalty, you have to earn it.

Giving back is crucial! My mother used to say, “It is easier to give someone the shirt off your back if you happen to have another one”. She said if we are ever successful, she expected us to make a difference in the lives of others. This is the fun part of business! We use many of our resources to promote education through our employee tuition program and donations to community non-profit organizations.

My favorite quote is from Mark Twain. He said, “You can never go wrong doing the right thing.”

Wishing all of you success,

Marc Shupan
CEO, Schupan & Sons, Inc.