Pat LeBlanc has always followed his passion, which led him to become a Michigan State University student, a Spartan cheerleader, a tenured MSU professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and finally the Veterinary Teaching Hospital director. While he loved his position as director, when his late father asked him to take over the family business LeBlanc followed his passion again – and it paid off.
LeBlanc was named the "2015 Michigan Small Business Person of the Year" by the U.S. Small Business Administration at a White House ceremony on May 8 for his chairman of EBW Electronics of Holland, Michigan. The automotive supplier, was recognized as the West Coast Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Person of the Year last fall.
Though he has come a long way since, his many years at MSU and his time as a cheerleader taught him valuable life lessons that he has applied to his current career.
“One of the biggest reasons for my success, that I learned while at MSU, has been the power of ‘positive enthusiasm,'” LeBlanc said. “A leader has the opportunity to set the culture for an organization, if the leader is positive, supportive, and up-lifting it creates a great work culture.”
EBW Electronics has had some exciting developments recently in addition to its chairman/ company cheerleader being nationally recognized. EBW recently doubled its plant size to 71,000 square feet and now employs more than 200 people, a big step up from 152 employees one year ago and from just two employees in 1992.
“As the director of the Veterinary Medical Center, I learned the critical nature of having an excellent support team and to avoid micro-managing,” LeBlanc said. “It is futile for anyone to attempt to control all the varied and unusual situations that occur in such a dynamic environment as the MSU Veterinary Medical Center.”
For students who are interested in one day owning their own successful business, LeBlanc stresses the importance of work-life balance.
“I have observed many leaders who can’t prioritize between ‘making a living’ and ‘making a life’,” LeBlanc said. “Your positive enthusiasm and influence on others is, in my opinion, a much more important legacy than any measure of financial success.”
The company got its start in 1992 and over the years its product line has evolved into predominately LED lighting in the automotive market. EBW Electronics has been in the automotive lighting field for about 7 years.
In 2013, Inc. Magazine named EBW Electronics the fastest growing, privately held, manufacturing company in the five-state Midwest region.
It is undeniable that LeBlanc has had a successful, diverse career and receiving the Michigan Small Business Person of the Year award brought him full circle, 24 years after his father received the same honor.
“I firmly believe that this award would not have been achieved without my father’s tutelage and the many ‘Positive Enthusiastic’ people I have been fortunate enough to meet at MSU,” LeBlanc said.