Let’s play a little game, shall we? I want you to think about your favorite family members. I want you to hold them in your mind, and remember all of the great times you’ve shared. The laughter, the inside jokes, the hugs. Now, I want you to imagine you and those same family members built a business together. You all are now responsible for making decisions that will impact a workforce, decisions that will influence hundreds, thousands, and potentially millions of dollars. How do you navigate the tenuous fault lines that separate the familial ties from the professional ones without damaging either?
That is one of the topics we spoke about with Ron Gallagher, president of Hampton Technologies. His company is all about family, meaning it is ran by himself and his two brothers. More fascinating than how they run the company together is how the company even started!
Started from the bottom…
No, that isn’t just a clever allusion to a Drake song. Hampton Technologies literally started from the bottom. Born in the basement of the Dix Hills, New York, home of Mr. Gallagher and his family, the company was founded by Mr. Gallagher and his father, Ron Gallagher, Sr.
“My dad had the idea, but he couldn’t afford to leave his full time job,” Ron said when asked about how Hampton Technologies started. “He asked me if I would want to start this with him and work out of the basement.”
Was there any inspiration to be found in working underneath the ground like Hephaestus, crafting for the gods?
“This is what we needed to do in order to get this off the ground,” Ron said of setting up shop in the basement. “Zero inspiration.”
In fact, instead of feeling inspired, Ron and his father ended up feeling a whole different emotion in the early days.
“There was a tremendous fear. In jumping into anything, when you’re first starting, of course, there’s a fear. What helped to mitigate the fear, to some degree, was that I was young back then. I didn’t have a family of my own.”
Nor did he have a full time job outside of Hampton Technologies. Ron, Jr. committed to the company while attending school, and Ron, Sr. worked for both Hampton Tech and held down his day job at Mobile Oil to keep a steady paycheck for the family while building the company.
It would eventually be family that provided Hampton Technologies the strength to grow and prosper!
Built on a family foundation
Hampton Technologies became a family business through sheer serendipity.
“It may have started as a family business with my father, but it was never meant to employ the entire family. My brother Kevin was in electrical engineering, and my brother Steven went into insurance.”
Eventually, both ended up joining Hampton Technologies to help run the business. Ron believes that the family aspect has helped it to grow.
“It’s helped, in the sense, that we all have different focuses and specialties in what we do. Whereas my specialty is in marketing and sales, my brother Steven focuses on finance. My other brother, Kevin, is more focused on operations. We all have our individual expertise.”
I have a younger brother, and my wife has three older brothers and a younger sister. Neither one of us is clamoring to start a company with our siblings. How have the Gallagher brothers been able to run a company and not have the day-to-day activities ruin their familial bonds? By concentrating on being about family first.
“We all have a core family system where we all believe our wives, our kids, our family comes first, and work comes second.”
How many of us struggle to put family first while just being employees of a company? How much harder would we find it balancing those two aspects of our lives and working closely with family every day? Not only have the Gallagher brothers built a strong family foundation for themselves, they have also built a strong company around an unlikely product: rubber stamps!
Put your stamp on it
When I was a child, my mother worked in the human resources department of Bank of America. I loved going to work with her because I got to take a stack of printer paper and play around with it for hours: drawing, writing, and using her collection of rubber stamps to fill every inch as possible. My favorites were the ones you didn’t have to stamp on the ink pad. It seems Hampton Technologies had the same love of self-inking stamps, as those were the first products the company sold.
“It wasn’t just a rubber stamp. It was a product range. This was back in the late 70’s, so self-inking stamps were just coming into the United States at that time. It was somewhat revolutionary. There was a transformation from a wooden handled stamp to a self-inking one.”
Not only were rubber stamps the first product that Hampton Tech sold, but they were also the reason the company started working with Zazzle.
“One thing I do is I retail shop, just to see what everyone else is doing. And, moreover, what they aren’t doing. Much of the shopping I do is online these days, and I looked at Zazzle and saw you didn’t sell rubber stamps.”
Unlike Hampton Technologies, though, Zazzle didn’t go live with rubber stamps first. We actually took another product from Hampton Tech: ping pong balls.
When talking about the products that Hampton Technologies sells, Ron broke them down into two categories: family fun and gifting. Hampton Tech cares about family fun, and Zazzle carries its customizable ping pong paddles and ping pong balls. You can intimidate your family with custom designs declaring your dominance, create fun designs to distract opponents, or add your name so you always know with paddle is yours. We also carry Hampton Technologies beer pong tables, in case ping pong is not your sport of choice.
Whether you need rubber stamps, ping pong equipment, or a new beer pong table, Hampton Tech has your back. Just like family!