In July 1968, two cousins walked through the doors of Draper for their first official day of work at the family business.
Those two fresh-out-of-college young men were John Pidgeon and Mike Broome. And nobody could know what a major impact they would have on the future of Draper.
Pidgeon and Broome are the great-grandsons of company founder Luther O. Draper, today Pidgeon is Draper’s president and Broome is vice president of manufacturing.
“I believe that John and Mike have had more impact on Draper’s success than anyone else,” said Chris Broome, Draper’s architectural market manager and Mike’s son. “Their vision and leadership have helped the company grow at an aggressive pace. When they started, Draper was a small company. We now have over 700 employees.”
“We were a small company, fewer than 40 employees,” said Pidgeon. “We were hands-on involved in every single detail.”
A few things have changed since then. Where in 1968 just about everything was done by hand, computerization, electronic communication, and automation have made a huge difference in efficiency, capacity, and delivery times. Draper has also increasingly become solution-driven rather than being a mass producer of standard products.
Both Pidgeon and Broome place being a responsible employer, a good supplier, and a tough competitor at the top of the list of their main goals of the past 50 years. And they’ve met those goals and then some.
Although Pidgeon and Broome aren’t showing any signs of slowing down, there will come the day when they pass the mantle of leadership. Pidgeon said his hopes for the future are for the company to continue to grow and prosper for another 116 years. Mike also hopes for continuity.
“In general, keep up the good work,” he said. “Do the best we can for our customers, for our employees, and for the community.”
During Pidgeon’s and Broome’s tenure, Draper has added sales offices in Placentia, Calif. and four wholly owned subsidiaries: Draper Group Ltd., a sales and warehouse facility in Corby, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom, and three manufacturing companies in Sweden: Draper Europe AB, a leading European projection screen manufacturer; SMS Smart Media Solutions AB, a leading European provider of video projector and flat screen mounts; and Evoko, a provider of conferencing collaboration tools. A truly international company, Draper products are shipped to dealers throughout the U.S. and more than 100 foreign countries.
Through it all, Pidgeon’s view of Draper has remained steady.
“Although we have grown quite a bit over the years,” said Pidgeon. “I still think of us as a small company.”