October 24/31, 2016: Volume 31, Number 10
Nance Industries was founded in 1972 with the dream and determination of a young mother who found a way to turn carpet scraps into quality rugs. For the past 44 years Carol and Bob Nance built four manufacturing plants with more than 150 employees. With the help of family consisting of three generations, Nance Industries currently ships nationally and internationally to many big box stores and distributors in addition to mom-and-pop operations, supplying any and all flooring products. Following is Carol Nance’s story in her own words.
“Nance started with a smaller plant. Then we doubled it, tripled it and continued buying new plants. All of those expansions, every piece of machinery selected, we did ourselves. Bob and I co-founded Nance just the two of us. We have worked together since 1972 with offices next door to each other. We have been married for 55 years and continue to work together five to six days a week. But our primary focus has always been family. Work never interfered with family time.
“My family members who are employed at Nance are living the legacy daily. They have witnessed the passion, hard work and business ethics that are part of Nance relationships. My son, Mike; son-in-law, Dan; and grandchildren, Presley and Nash Nance, see my involvement in giving back and the importance of charity, which Nance has participated in for 44 years. Life is more than doing a job and getting paid; it is about making a difference and following our passions, connecting to what we believe in and expressing our values—and always doing the right thing.
“The industry changes [since we started] are numerous. We have seen consolidation, which stymied smaller businesses. But this only motivated Nance to think outside the box and offer many things the big guys couldn’t. To survive that was something we had to do. Virtually no business in our industry offers all that Nance does. It is comforting to know the Nance name is identified with service because of our trust, integrity, quality and ability to deliver. That’s a big factor, especially the ability to deliver to big boxes. They helped us get our foot in the door. We provide services for all major companies in the industry.
“One of the most significant changes I have witnessed in the last 44 years is the Internet. In 1972 everything was manual in the office; in 2016 thousands of orders are done from beginning to end electronically. The thing that has not changed is how labor-intensive our business is on the production end.
“But even throughout those changes we have loyal employees; some have been with us for 20 and 25 years. They are like family. There is nothing I would not do for them.
“In terms of running a company as a woman, female-owned businesses have certainly come a long way since 1972. I remember when we started our business, two well-dressed bankers came to the office and asked to see the owner. I said, ‘Well, that would be me.’ They said, ‘No, we want to see Mr. Nance.’ Twenty-five years later I sat on the board of that bank.
“The advice I would give to other female leaders is to ‘act like a lady and think like a boss.’ It took years to realize I had a voice—to move forward and grow and succeed in our industry. I must use that voice to be heard by board members, other business leaders and follow through with suggestions and entrepreneurial ideas.”