When your business has been around for more than 125 years, the past can provide valuable lessons.
White Racker Company, a family-owned manufacturer located at 420 S. Lively Blvd. in Elk Grove, traces its roots back to 1894. That’s when Albert White began selling a system he developed for the beer industry.
“He patented a design for beer racking machines that fill the 64-gallon kegs at a high flow rate while maintaining the beer’s carbonation, and sold the machines to the major brewing companies,” says Ken Rogalski, who has owned White Racker since 1985. “That’s where our name comes from: Albert’s last name and the product that gave him his start.”
Expanding the Customer Base
By the 1920s, the company faced a challenge: prohibition. To survive, White had to expand his customer base. He began making commercial plumbing products for OEMs.
Later, the post-war era brought a building boom. Rogalski’s grandfather joined White Racker, and eventually became the new owner. By the mid-1960s Rogalski, then 10 years old, began visiting his grandfather at work, helping with tasks around the facility — and learning the business from the ground up
After his grandfather died in 1985, Rogalski bought White Racker, and diversified its offerings. Today the company manufactures a line of high-quality commercial plumbing products and toilet partition hardware, including offering new customers CNC machining services and design engineering.
Moving to Elk Grove
Bringing White Racker to Elk Grove in 1997 provided an unforeseen advantage. “As manufacturing started moving to China, we lost quite a few customers,” Rogalski says. “If it wasn’t for our customer and our supplier base here, we might not have survived. That insulated us — enabling us not only to continue, but to thrive.”
The coronavirus pandemic brought new challenges, but Rogalski is looking to 2021 with optimism. “You have to realize there are going to be good times and downtimes as well. The businesses that survive are the ones who plan well.”
He says being part of the Elk Grove business community makes it easier to keep drawing on the lessons that have brought the company to where it is today: stay nimble, be innovative, and plan well.
During a recent Business Ambassador meeting with Village officials and staff, Rogalski was able to connect and learn about valuable resources. “Elk Grove is geared towards business,” he says. “They do everything possible to help you out.”
Get on our calendar for 2021! Schedule your Business Ambassador virtual visit today.