A family tradition at Winner International
Editor’s Note: One of the founding members of Team Pennsylvania, Jim Winner, recently passed away. The following is an article on the company he founded, Winner International, that appeared in the October 2009 Foundation newsletter. Team PA sends its condolences to the Winner family.
Like father, like daughter.
Karen Winner has followed in her father’s entrepreneurial spirit with her work at Team Pennsylvania Foundation and Winner International, the family business headquartered in Mercer County.
Her father, Jim, is Chairman of the Board at Winner International, and one of the founding members of the Foundation more than 10 years ago. Karen is the private sector co-chair at Team Pennsylvania Foundation and Chief Executive Officer at Winner International, a multi-faceted company that created the anti-theft device called The Club.
Continuing her father’s legacy in the business and at Team PA is a role that Karen deeply cherishes.
“I’ve learned more from my father working side-by-side with him than I did from all my years in college,” Karen said. “I’m very proud of my father. He was always dedicated to Team PA and worked diligently to create such diverse companies.”
Diversity is the name of the game at Winner: the family owns among its many holdings an environmentally based division called Winner Global, several restaurants, a Bed and Breakfast, hotel, a worker’s comp insurance company and a department store, which is located in downtown Sharon.
Winner began in 1985 with the advent of The Club, a device that locks over a car’s steering wheel to prevent it from being stolen.
Working with law enforcement agencies and focus groups, Winner has grown to create 12 different versions of The Club and at least another dozen anti-theft and personal safety devices that are based on The Club concept.
The company just recently launched its newest item, The Car Safe. The safe is a device that can be secured inside a car so that smaller valuables like GIS systems, PDAs, ipods and cell phones can’t be stolen.
“We believe crime prevention is everyone’s business and responsibility,” Karen said. “It is a well-documented fact that a potential thief will move on to an easier target.”
While the company’s mission is to provide security and safety, it also has a very specific goal for its customers, Karen said.
“It is our goal to provide products and services that people need that are affordable and serve a very useful purpose in their lives,” she said.
Another division, Winner Global, which is also headquartered here, is nothing like its sister company, Winner International.
Todd Beers, Vice President, Energy and Environmental Services, Winner Global, said the company works with emerging technologies and is tasked with finding commercial solutions to existing problems.
Beers said the company is currently focused on remediating acid mine water/drainage to extract the sulfates via a chemical process and return the water to the ecosystem, free of the contaminants that polluted the water.
“What you are left with is a potassium sulfate fertilizer that is a highly desirable product for turf grasses,” Beers said. “With the markets we have here in the Northeast, this has great potential for a marketable product with the benefit of a cleaner environment.”
With such diverse products and services, there is unlimited potential at Winner for new innovation and company expansion.
“As an entrepreneur and family-owned company, we can be as creative and flexible as we want to be,” Karen said. “We love to customize our products and services, and our team really enjoys our creative meetings,” she added, with a smile.
Jim Winner on Team PA:
“No one serves to be the eyes and ears for the state of Pennsylvania any better than Team Pennsylvania Foundation,” Winner said. “Instead of working in a vacuum, industry needs to be involved and there is no better way for industry to be involved than to be an active investor in Team Pennsylvania Foundation.”