Reinventing the family business

Two women find success retooling their companies

Beverlee Fatse Dacey ’75

Beverlee Fatse Dacey ’75 and Margaret Price ’00, owners of their families’ businesses, are using a combination of hard work, inventive practices, customer focus and grit to attract customers and bigger profits.

Dacey took over third-generation business Amodex Products, which manufactures stain removal products in Bridgeport, Conn., following a career in academic advising. Price, meanwhile, is the CEO of lumberyard retail business Ridgefield Supply in Ridgefield, Conn.

Margaret Price ’00

Both businesses have experienced rising profits as a result of their leadership—as well as recognition: Amodex received the Small Business Association Connecticut Family Business of the Year award and Price received the Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce’s Woman of the Year Award (2017) and the Pro-Sales 4 under 40 award (2015).

After graduating from Wheaton with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, Dacey had no interest in business. When studying for her master’s degree in European affairs at the University of Chicago, the dean of the business school tried to persuade her to pursue an M.B.A., an idea she then considered “vulgar.”

“He told me, ‘I can see you in business. You should think about it.’ I didn’t do it. As the years went by, I started to think about that conversation. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. That was a precursor to my trajectory,” she said.

When her father passed away in 2005, Dacey and her sons took over. She successfully led a process to rebrand Amodex “so we could better focus on market channels we needed to break into.” The company moved into a new building, and all the old equipment was updated.

“The company went through a huge metamorphosis. The 1950s business needed to become a 21st-century company,” she said.

One aspect of the company would remain the same: the personal touch. The company decided against using an automated phone system. “You always get a live voice. That is something we felt was important to who we are,” she said.

Price also spearheaded a major overhaul when she took over Ridgefield Supply in 2014. Last year, the company completed a three-year remodel, which included 11 new buildings and a new retail store, showroom and offices.

“It is so important that we provide quality products that they are happy with. Also, I stay in tune with changes in building code and new building science techniques,” said Price, adding that she spent two years getting her certified building material specialist designation, which few people manage to obtain.

Regarding her Pro-Sales award, Price said, “For me, that was a really big deal because I was the only woman being recognized as a ‘young’ person who was making an impact in my industry. Traditionally, lumberyards are run by white men.”

Both alumni credit their liberal arts background for their success.

“My time at Wheaton definitely formed my ‘bull in a china closet’ approach to challenging my industry. I am not afraid to ask questions and dig deeper for answers,” Price said.

Also, she said double majoring in political science and international relations allowed her to get involved with lobbying. “We do a lot of business with Canadian and European manufacturers and mills. Having this background always is an advantage.”

Dacey, who put all four of her children through liberal arts schools, said this background allows for creative problem solving and collaboration, as well as cultivates an ability to think from different perspectives. These traits have served her well in her engagement outside of Amodex on a state board that manages funding for manufacturing innovation and workforce development.

“Liberal arts teaches you how to think. Nothing prepares you better than that for life challenges,” she said.