Every Bel-Ray press release says the company is “woman-owned,” but it’s actually two women running the place. “The way the owner and I have divvied up responsibility is, she makes the product, and I find the right sales channel for it,” COO Jennifer Liquori says in reference to female CEO Daryl Brosnan, whose father, Bill Kiefer, founded the lubricants company in 1946.
“She’s certainly a woman to celebrate,” Liquori says. “After 35 years, she knows the company inside and out. Although she could have sold the company many times, she hasn’t. She doesn’t take any profit out of the business, and puts every dollar back in.”
That level of investment came in handy last year when Liquori began leading a Bel-Ray “comeback” comprised of new employees, re-engineered formulas, new packaging, a new display program, a larger booth at Dealer Expo, a mainstream marketing push, and new sponsored riders like Chad Reed. “One of the things I tell our employees all the time is we did all these things to reengineer the business, but it was Daryl who ultimately never said no,” Liquori says. “I think that takes a really strong, confident, smart, strategic business owner to do that, and she just happens to be a woman, too, which I think has also made her a more compassionate manager.”
Brosnan interviewed Liquori for her position six years ago. An attorney by trade, Liquori was looking to go back to work after giving birth to twins. “I’d always had very stressful, demanding careers, and I wanted a job that would allow me to balance my work and home lives,” she says. “When I first met with Daryl, and she explained the depth and the size of the job, I said to her, ‘I don’t think that that’s a job that’s going to allow me to also balance motherhood.”
But Brosnan, also a mother, assured Liquori it would. “And to her credit, every word she said was true,” Liquori says. “Last year I traveled about 100,000 miles in just six months, but when I was off or out of the office trying to make up time with my family, she never asked me a question about it. It was always, ‘Do what you have to do to maintain the balance of your life.’ And I would like to think that a man would do that, too, but I think because she’s been there and done it herself, she’s got a lot of conviction about supporting women within the company and allowing them to be moms as well.”
This story originally appeared in the Dealernews May 2011 issue.
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