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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, June 23, 2014, 6:23 am

Women in Business 2014: Marla Jeffrey, Gusmer Enterprises

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    Women in BusinessPresident, Gusmer Enterprises, Inc., 640-D Airpark Rd., Napa 94558; 707-224-7903; gusmerenterprises.com

    Age: 55

    Residence: Windsor

    Professional background: Commercial banking and investments

    Education: B.A., College of William and Mary, Virginia; MBA, Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania

    Staff: 200-plus

    Marla JeffreyTell us about yourself and your company: Gusmer Enterprises, Inc., manufactures and resells processing aids, instrumentation and equipment for fermentation, filtration and food applications. Today, we sell to a wide range of customers in the beverage (wine, brewing, distilled spirits, juice/cider), oils and food, pharmaceutical, and other industrial markets.

    Gusmer was founded by my great-uncle and grandfather who emigrated from Denmark, and I am a member of the third generation of the family that owns and manages the company. We are proud and honored that so many people who were not born into the family have joined our team and continue to dedicate their professional careers to help Gusmer achieve our goals through “commitment, creativity and collaboration.”

    I worked in finance and management prior to joining Gusmer 25 years ago, and my external work experience and education helped increased my understanding of how successful businesses should operate.

    What is a major accomplishment in the past year or so?: Gusmer Enterprises, Inc., celebrates 90 years in business this year. We are proud of the “Service With Knowledge” that we seek to provide our customers, employees and vendors alike.

    How challenging has it been to keep the company family-operated for so long?: We have been fortunate that the entire family, regardless of whether they are working full-time in the business, is committed to the continuation of the business. Our culture shared by all colleagues of “working together to serve our customers with integrity” has allowed Gusmer to grow and develop.

    What is the achievement you are most proud of?: My three children

    What is your biggest challenge today?: Anticipating evolving technologies and how they will shape our business.

    As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them?: As Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In research references, the workplace still is adjusting to having female business professionals and taking us credibly. Persevering while being true to yourself eventually “wins the day”.

    What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?: Pursue your interests or passion, since doing what you like increases your chances of success.

    Be confident and willing to take a calculated risk. Women often feel everything needs to be perfect before we make a move, but obviously nothing is ever perfect.

    Have a long-term goal and plan in three-year increments, since business and life is rapidly changing. So realize the different things you will do really are building on the foundation of things you’ve already accomplished.

    Stress-reliever: Running

    Favorite hobbies: Enjoying the North Bay’s wonderful — food and beverages with family and friends.

    Anything to add?: As I tell my children, do your best, and always do the right thing.

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