Mary Lyn Baker of DH Casters Rolls with Her Customers
DH Casters got its start in 1985, and the Baker family’s three generations of experience in the hardware industry contributed greatly to the success of this award-winning company. Mary Lyn Baker joined the company in 1994 and became president and owner in 2014. For over 35 years, DH Casters has provided casters and wheels to original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s), distributors, fabricators, maintenance and repair companies, and retail buyers in dozens of industries, as well as to various government agencies, cities, and municipalities. Having a fully stocked warehouse allows DH Casters to ship products within 48 hours, ensuring that customers are never without the perfect casters and wheels for long. This is just one piece of DH Casters’ customer service strategy. DH Casters has 13 full time employees who are highly knowledgeable about all of their available products. Their expertise enables them to work with customers to find the perfect product to “avoid caster disasters”.
Mary Lyn’s management style is family-spirited, encouraging, and hands on, with her leadership based on partnership and collaboration. She believes in understanding each employee’s role in the company and ensuring a supportive work environment, while keeping the customer’s needs at the forefront of their minds. By listening to her employees and using their feedback, Baker has crafted customer-focused processes and procedures. Her style encourages creativity in all areas of the company and motivates her team to strive for success.
Mary Lyn’s success, however, has not come without challenges. In 2018, the company needed more inventory because of the high demand for their products. In the caster business, it is a must to have the product available when the customer needs it and DH Casters needed a way to purchase more inventory in advance of sales. Mary Lyn tapped into the SBA’s 7(a) loan program to bridge the gap, and the loan provided the cash needed to purchase more inventory and to keep the company’s growth cycle moving upward.
In Mary Lyn’s own words, “the SBA has helped me more than just financially.” In 2019, she completed the Export Trade Assistance Partnership program, where she was introduced to many SBA resources. She has also taken advantage of services provided by SBA resource partners, like SCORE. She works with SCORE’s Advisory Board to continually improve and grow her business. Mary Lyn is also a part of SCORE’s CEO Forum, and she enjoys high-level networking at their Women in Business Breakfast series. SCORE advisors have also worked with her on financial decisions, and more recently helped Mary Lyn with the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) process.
DH Casters received loans through both the EIDL program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which allowed the company to keep their employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 shutdown. In 2020, Mary Lyn was presented the SBA Orange County / Inland Empire Woman-Owned Businessperson of the Year Award. Mary Lyn says knowing that people from the SBA care makes a huge difference to her business.
Because of COVID-19, DH Casters had to make changes to cope with rapidly changing conditions, like so many other companies around the world. With the changes in business operations due to lockdowns, DH Casters jumped into getting their e-commerce site up. The company launched a custom, customer friendly e-commerce website that makes purchasing casters and wheels “fast & simple”. With the help of their SCORE advisor, DH Casters created their own brand ambassador, DHarma, a cartoon superhero character with a PPE mask on. New demands brought about by COVID-19 encouraged ingenuity in how DH Casters would operate, and Mary Lyn embraced the challenge with open arms as she brought DH Casters into the future of business.
Beyond casters and wheels, Mary Lyn makes time for her community locally and globally. She works with an organization called Corazon to build homes in Mexico, and she has participated with Skid Row Ministry for over 10 years. Before COVID-19, she went to Los Angeles’ Skid Row once every six weeks to give out food, clothing, and smiles to those in need. The DH Casters team also supports a child in Honduras through the Compassion Organization, and the company sponsors the Heroes Wear Helmets Golf Classic, put on by the Greater Ontario Business Council to raise money for military causes and programs. Although quite busy with her business, Mary Lyn still finds time to enjoy golfing with her children and customers.