AV People: John Pidgeon of Draper, Inc.

JohnPidgeon-1213To say that the AV industry is in the blood of John Pidgeon, president of Draper, Inc. is an understatement. He got into the industry simply by being born.

Draper is a family business through and through. It was established 111 years ago by Pidgeon’s great grandfather, Luther Draper. It’s been managed, in turn, by his son-in-law, Elmer Pidgeon, then Luther Pidgeon (John’s father). John is the fourth generation to run the business — and the fifth generation, John’s cousin Chris Broome, is also represented at Draper.

“I started working [at Draper] full time on July 6th, 1968. On that same day, my cousin Mike, also began working here,” said John. “Since that time I have been largely involved in sales and marketing while Mike has been responsible for engineering and production. Mike is currently the VP of manufacturing and his son Chris is responsible for Draper’s architectural sales.”

But John’s work for Draper began much earlier than that, really — and on a much smaller scale. “I was 12 years old and I began to come to work on Saturday mornings with my father. And while he worked in the office, I would mow the yard outside. It took about four hours and I got paid about $3. That was my first job here at Draper,” said John.

There was never any pressure or coercion from his father or grandfather or any other family members for John to come work for Draper. It was just a decision he made on his own when he was in college. When it came time to make the decision, it was a no brainer for John and he hasn’t regretted it for a single day since then.

“We have been fortunate that as a family business, we have always gotten along and respected each other’s opinions,” explained John. “We have not had any of the difficulties that some family businesses have.

“I like the fact that we have an excellent staff — the majority of whom live within a 15 minute drive or less of Draper. We are all a close knit family (literally) and by and large we get along and enjoy working with each other.” John has always instilled the importance of having a comfortable, friendly place to people to come to work every day.

John’s love for Draper and his commitment to AV is so evident in everything that he does. “The thing I like most about working in AV is the opportunity to work with an awful lot of nice people. I have always felt that from day one,” he said. “And I also enjoy the fact that this industry changes constantly. I have never gotten bored… At Draper, we’ve adapted successfully to the changes in technology over the years. It’s been important to me and to this company that we continue to provide good quality products and good service.”

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John’s passion for AV, his love of the company, and the drive to provide excellent customer service has become infectious among his colleagues. He exhibits much of what Draper is about. He’s friendly, unassuming, and doesn’t have a lot of ego. “We try to be reasonable, fair, and honest. And I want to treat my employees and my customers the way I would like to be treated,” said John.

Outside of his work at Draper, John is a family man through and through. He and his wife Jane have been married 30 years and they have two daughters, Anna and Ellen. “[Jane and I] grew up on opposite ends of the same block and we’ve known each other since we were five and six years old,” recalled John. “We were high school sweethearts and then we went our separate ways after we graduated from college. About 15 years later, we became reacquainted and the rest is history.” Together, John and Jane spend much of their time enjoying life, golfing and traveling.

John also is extremely dedicated to his local community of Spiceland and Henry County in Indiana. He’s the president of the Board of Trustees of Henry County Hospital and has been for the past 20 years. He was selected by the Henry County commissioners for that position. “Being involved in the healthcare industry has been fascinating,” said John. “As you can imagine, it’s extremely complex. It changes extremely rapidly. That has been quite an education for me.”

In addition to his work on the hospital board, he has also been a member for the past 25 years of the Henry County Community Foundation — a charitable foundation that exists for the betterment of Henry County, Ind. The foundation helps to fund a lot of organizations that exist to try to make Henry County a better place- – and to have played a small part in that has been gratifying for John.

John knows and understands the importance of making a positive lasting impact on both your community and your company. “One thing that I am always saying to any new salesperson at Draper — and this is by no means unique to AV industry — it’s true in any industry and any job, is always do what you say you will do,” said John. “We have all known sales people who are quick to pat you on the back and tell you they’ll take care of it and forget it as they walk out the door. I try to stress to our sales people — if you tell a customer you’re doing to do something — make sure you do it. It’s simple advice.”

Sometimes the simplest advice is the best advice.