Chairman B. Kent Garlinghouse Attributes Success to Employees
This year, Polo Custom Products celebrates our 75th year in business. The many successes we have seen are connected to the leadership of our respected Chairman of the Board B. Kent Garlinghouse.
Our company has undergone many changes since 1947. “I am thrilled to say that for 75 consecutive years Polo Custom Products has helped our OEM customers save lives in the medical, industrial, fire & safety, and defense industries, as well as the military,” Kent said. “I am proud to say that we also assist with innovative product design, engineering, and manufacturing. We attribute our longevity to our wonderful employees and their ability to help our customers with their market needs.”
Born in New York City and raised in St. Louis, Kent was on an early track to become a difference maker. He graduated with his Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University, then his Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School, and moved on to work a short stint as an investment analyst in Indiana. In 1971, he joined Polo Custom Products, formerly M-C Industries, as President and CEO. Kent moved the headquarters from Milwaukee to Topeka, KS. With his creative, entrepreneurial, and low-key leadership style, Kent was quick to make an impact, growing sales from $1 million to $30 million by 1997.
Kent and his wife, Susan, have become integral community leaders in Topeka. In 1982, they opened the Topeka Collegiate School, an independent college preparatory school for students preschool through 8th grade. It was only the second independent school in Kansas when it opened. Kent was a founding board chairman of the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, a chairman of the St. Francis Health Center, and served on the boards for Merchants National Bank and the Kansas Policy Institute. He was also named the 2004 Executive of the Year by Sales and Marketing Executives of Topeka and was inducted into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame in 2009. Kent has taught as an adjunct instructor at the Washburn University School of Business, serving on the Washburn University Foundation Board of Trustees since 1994.
Actively working at the company today, leaders such as B. Kent Garlinghouse helped establish the core identity and principles of Polo Custom Products over our 75 years in business. It’s his guidance and example that sets the tone for the whole company.