These three words are how ODL's past president Larry Mulder, the son of founder Cy Mulder and father of current president Jeff Mulder, sums up the ODL culture.
Nearly 70 years ago, ODL, then Ottawa Door Lights—named after the county in which it was founded—took form in Cy's home, eventually moving into a small building in Zeeland, Michigan. The business was growing, but it also remained very much a local company, solidly Midwestern, solidly small-town.
In the early 60s, Larry took leadership of the company. Solid for Larry meant a culture of inclusion. He expanded the face of ODL, hiring employees from outside the Zeeland area and outside the industry. ODL began to reflect a broader perspective with a growingly diverse workforce. Solid also means employing quality manufacturing practices that build quality products. A solid business philosophy has also created a fiscally healthy ODL—another definition of solid. Customers can confidently do business with a company that stands behind its products.
ODL is a solid company that's soft around its edges. Cy was a man of compassion who willingly helped ODL's employees, neighbors, and community. Even as the company has grown, ODL continues to count community involvement among its core values. Watching out for each other, both locally and globally, is an attitude very much alive within the ODL family. Fundraisers for employees in need and participation in community events are evidence of the company's softer side.
A solid business with a strong workforce can also withstand some risk, and ODL is not adverse. Three types of risk—product, location, and people—have shaped ODL's culture. Going from wood frames to injection-molded frames was risky business in the 70s. But innovation in technologies, processes, and materials means growth, even if there is risk associated with it. ODL keeps its sights on what's ahead and takes risks in order to grow and produce innovative and quality products for its customers.
Expanding from a single-operation company in one small town to multiple locations around the U.S. was a risky step. Then ODL took some very big steps, adding locations in other countries and across continents. Today ODL has business operations and alliances worldwide.
ODL is an organization that encourages development and movement of employees within the company. Education of employees is central to its culture. But sometimes that means employees grow and leave ODL. There is risk, but it pays off with a stronger, smarter, more engaged staff that works together to solve issues, design great products, and service customers.
Solid...Soft...Risky...three traits that have formed ODL and will continue to direct our interactions with each other and our customers as we "Build Value Into Building Products."