LancasterThriving_WinterSpring2017 - 8
PEOPLE: PATH TO THRIVING
job, but going through the process was a wake-up call.
"I wanted that job so badly, but I told myself that if things
didn't work out, I was going to find a way to change
"It is frustrating for anyone to feel that they are not reaching
their potential professionally," Baum said. "When you're part
of a family business, this dynamic can be complicated,
So he decided to take the reins and poured himself back
into his dad's business. He wrote a 15-page strategic plan
that focused on how Bass could be more forward-thinking
by hiring and developing the right people and streamlining
and improving processes. The effort re-energized Baum
and he enthusiastically presented it to his father. His dad
appreciated the effort, but wasn't ready to implement
"My dad was the entrepreneur. He did everything: sales,
strategic planning, budgeting, etc., so in hindsight it is no
surprise that he took my suggestions for change a little
personally," said Baum. "It can be a struggle to get someone
to look at things differently in this industry, especially when
it involves critiquing the business that they have dedicated
their life to."
That exchange made the next few months tense between
Baum and his father. And then the unthinkable happened.
In May 2014, Al died in an accident on his all-terrain vehicle.
In addition to the family's pain and grief was the reality that
no succession plan was in place for Bass Mechanical - a
common pitfall of family-owned businesses.
Working with an outside consultant, the family decided to
have Casey assume the CEO role. "It was baptism by fire,"
he said. And being the founder's son didn't make it easier.
"Let's put it this way, when you're the owner's son, no one is
lining up to put a crown on your head," he said.
In addition to the succession challenges, the company
8 | LANCASTERTHRIVING! | Winter/Spring2017
was in the midst of what Baum describes as "uncontrolled
growth," as a result of adding an electrical division and
hiring several external sales reps. Revenue increased
from $3.8 million in 2013 to $7 million in 2014, and the
number of employees doubled to more than 40 during that
Taking on the roles of owner and leader during this
tumultuous time, Baum knew he needed help. He started
attending leadership roundtable meetings at the High
Center at Elizabethtown College. The Center's mission
is to serve and strengthen families in business through
succession planning, family leadership training and legacy
The peer group showed Baum that facing personal hardship
in the midst of business struggle wasn't unique to Bass
Mechanical. "You quickly see that everyone is either going
through or has gone through some pretty dark times,
personally and professionally," he said. "I have found that by
practicing empathy and compassion I am able to learn from
"We are so fortunate in Lancaster County to have resources
like the High Center and just an overall business community
where people are willing to go out of their way to help
each other," said Baum. "Having a supportive peer group
to weather the storm with you is very powerful. They can
encourage you and hold you accountable to make the tough
decisions needed to grow a business."
Tough decisions like attracting and retaining talented
people who fit the company culture, and letting go of those
who don't. "You can't accomplish much or create something
sustainable without the right people; it's so important," said
Baum, who has a passion for psychology and employs tools
like the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator when hiring.
"I'm so adamant about culture fit that we only have two
employees in the company left who were with us in January
2014. It was tough, but we now have an awesome team