Sharon Suggs had a loving husband and a thriving business that had been in the family for more than one generation. Little did she know tragedy was right around the corner.
When her husband died too young, her life was turned upside down. Business was the furthest thing from her mind.
She had her own emotions and the needs of her family to take care of. By her own admission, she operated in a fog for that first year as the new CEO of Allstate Steel.
Running a business was foreign to her. This had always been her husband’s job.
She was forced to go through an expedited learning curve and she made some mistakes. Some proved nearly catastrophic.
Sharon’s husband has been gone for a few years now. To his credit, he did a lot of things right that allowed Sharon and her family to continue to own the business—if they wanted to.
Having a formal succession plan, buy-sell agreements, life insurance policies and planning for the unthinkable is hardly a pleasant experience. Also, when you are in the throes of getting daily business done and making payroll, it’s easy to not make the “what ifs” a priority.
I’m happy to report that Allstate Steel is better than ever under Sharon’s leadership. In fact, they just won a $1.6 million contract to supply materials for the new University of Florida Chemistry Building.
We chatted with Sharon about the last few years and the lessons learned. She is a strong woman, who has earned the respect of her employees and customers.
While her personal journey was full of adversity, she is a better leader and person because of it. Allstate has stabilized and is yet again in a position to grow—under new leadership.
And a personal note to Sharon: Thanks for sharing. Others will benefit from your openness.