Glenn Leppo earned his first paycheck at the age of 10. He worked hard polishing tractors and dusting shelves at the family business: Leppo Farm Equipment. The company, which has since evolved into Leppo Group, has been family run since it started in 1945.
Glenn’s mother, Thelma Leppo, oversaw accounting and payroll for the company’s employees, including 10-year-old Glenn and his four older siblings. She paid him 50 cents an hour, about half of minimum wage at the time.
Today, Glenn sits as the dealer principal and CEO of Leppo Group, which employs more than 205 people at 14 locations throughout Ohio, Florida, Alabama and Texas. The same family focus that started the company 75 years ago is what continues to propel them forward today.
Leppo from the start
Roy W. Leppo and George Dimmick founded Dimmick and Leppo Farm Equipment in 1945 in Akron, Ohio, as the area’s Oliver Farm Equipment dealer. In 1947, Roy bought out George and the company’s name changed to Leppo Farm Equipment. Then, in 1962, the company began to focus less on farm equipment. They changed the name to Leppo, Inc. to reflect the rest of the company’s business, which now included lawn and garden equipment and construction equipment.
Leppo became the Bobcat dealer for the Akron area in 1972, which played a large role in the company’s expansion. Leppo now has 10 “Bobcat of …” locations in three states.
Throughout the company’s transitions and expansions, one thing remained the same: the family involvement. Roy retired in 1970, leaving his son Richard ‘Dick’ in charge. From there, Dick and Thelma’s five children have all held positions at a Leppo branch at one time or another, including Glenn who is the CEO and Dale, who served as company’s board chairman until fully retiring last year.
More than a name
While family genes are a huge component of the Leppo company, it’s not just the Leppo family connections that make a statement—employee longevity does too. Many employees have been there for 20 or 30 years, with nine team members passing the 40-year mark and one veteran holding the 49-year record. One of the company’s long-standing employees is President of Sales Dan LeBeau, who has been with the company since 1993.
“It’s not just a couple of Leppo people at work,” Dan LeBeau says. “We’re all Leppos. It’s who we are. It’s a name to them, but it’s also deep down who we are.”
There are many other groups of family members who work in the Leppo company. Fathers and sons, brothers, close-knit friends and other connections are common to find within the Leppo walls.
That same family aspect is coincidentally what drives a lot of sales at the Leppo locations. “We create a culture with the father, and then it gets passed on to his kids,” Glenn says. “We have guys who come in and say, ‘I do business with Leppos because of how you treated my dad when he was a customer.’”
“The Leppo Way”
Company culture drives employee retention at Leppo. Between expansions and acquisitions, new product lines and continually adding customers, it’s important to the company to remain true to their core values – something they call “The Leppo Way,” which consists of these points:
- We will meet our commitments
- We will be thorough
- We will strive for decisions that are in the best interest of our customers, co-workers, vendors, communities, and owners of the company
- When we don’t know the “right” answer, we will ask questions
These values are posted in every Leppo location and have become the roadmap by which they do business.
The Leppo and Bobcat relationship
Leppo Inc. became a Bobcat dealer almost 50 years ago, and their brand dedication remains stronger than ever. Many of the Leppo executives have held seats on the Bobcat Dealer Advisory Council (now the Bobcat Dealer Leadership Group) and have made connections with other dealers throughout the organization.
“We’ve created a lot of long-lasting relationships through our partnership with Bobcat,” Dan says. “I can go into any dealership across the country and feel a connection with a fellow dealer. On the Bobcat side, I could walk up to a group of Bobcat employees and get the same great treatment from a product specialist or the president. It’s all about great relationships.”
For Dale, the Bobcat personal relationship goes even deeper. His connection with one of Bobcat Company’s founders is a testament to the longevity of their relationship.
“Cy Keller taught me in a Bobcat Boot Camp in Georgia in 1976,” Dale says. “With Bobcat, it’s always been about the Midwestern attitude: say what you mean and mean what you say. They meet their commitments, which is a valuable characteristic when you choose who to do business with.”
Keeping it in the family
“Becoming” a Leppo is no easy task. Just because it’s a candidate’s namesake, doesn’t guarantee they get the position. The company follows a few ground rules before hiring a family member.
Family members who want to work for Leppo must hold a job elsewhere outside of college, to let them round out their professional experience. Then the company holds multiple interviews with a handful of executives, and everyone must agree on the decision.
“When we hired our niece Erin, we were looking for a CFO,” Dale says. “We had several strong candidates with good resumés, and we spent a lot of time discussing. Erin wasn’t hired because she’s our niece. She was hired because she had the right background and personality for the job.”
Erin has been with the company for five years. She and Glenn’s son Mike proudly hold the title of the company’s fourth generation of Leppos. When Glenn retires, Mike will take over as CEO. According to the family, there’s no better hands to leave it in.
And, if Glenn and Dale are anything like their father, they’ll remain involved in the company even after “retiring.” Dick is now 93 and still makes appearances at the office. He remains proficient in operating Bobcat machinery on the farm; a Bobcat 763 skid-steer with bald tires is his favorite. He often shares his praise with his children and grandchildren for the trajectory of the company his family has built.
To read more about the Leppo story, check out the flipbook created by the family.