Company looks to be 100 percent employee owned by the end of the year

Published in the February 15 – 28, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Marty Cheek

Mission Bell President Glenn Ripley, right, receives a certificate announcing the Morgan Hill company as this year’s Business of the Year from John Horner, Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. The company will be honored Feb. 25. Photo by Marty Cheek

The employees of Mission Bell sat for breakfast in the banquet room of the Coyote Creek Golf Course club house for the annual year-end company meeting as human resource director Bev Stenehjem welcomed them and began a series of announcements:

“Mission Bell has had a really great 2016 thanks to all of you. We had some major accomplishments,” she said. She described several of the more significant ones: Certified as a Great Place to Work, Green Certified Business of the Year, Stewardship Award and Innovator of the Year Award.

“We really racked up a lot of awards this year,” she said. “In addition, Mission Bell has a long legacy of giving back to the community and being very charitable.”

She then invited President Glenn Ripley and company family founders Gregg and John Scianna to the front of the room for a special surprise announcement by Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce President/CEO John Horner.

“It’s a real honor and privilege to be with you here today,” Horner said. “My job lets me do a lot of really fun things, but this is literally my favorite. We’re here today to let you know that along with all those little awards you won along the way, the really big won, Morgan Hill Business of the Year for 2017, is Mission Bell.”

The room broke out into a round of applause by the employees as Horner shook the hands of the three men. The third brother, Mark Scianna, was not present at the meeting.
“It’s really because of the work you do and the way you do it. Clearly this is a company with integrity and intelligence,” Horner said.

Ripley lifted the plaque up and showed it to the workers. “For you!” he shouted.

Gregg took the microphone. “I really do want to say something about our leader. Glenn is an awesome leader and an awesome boss and a man who is an inspiration to me. A man who has taught me a lot, really, in this business and how to run a larger business. We’re just high school graduates who went to work for dad. People like Glenn have really made this place an awesome place.”

He passed the mic back to Ripley.

“I’m going to keep saying it,” Ripley said. “It’s a pleasure to lead you because Mission Bell is in this room, and you are what won this. You are the ones who continue to teach me and lead me in so many things. We’re really honored and we’re proud to be a part of the Morgan Hill community and we want to continue to make a mark here and contribute and see Morgan Hill be the jewel in the Bay Area.” He raised the plaque again to another round of applause. “This really is the culmination and the highlight of the year as far as I’m concerned — Business of the Year!”

Mission Bell is a commercial woodworking company that specializes in architectural mill-work and custom case work, Stenehjem said. Most of its customers are in Silicon Valley’s high tech industry or upscale restaurants. Many are part of the Fortune 500 companies including Google, Linked-In and Facebook.

“We do the wow factor,” she said. “When you walk into a company, and your eyes are gazing around the lobby or the conference room, you just think, wow this is beautiful. That’s most likely Mission Bell’s work. We put the icing on the cake. We come in with all types of materials in addition to wood, other materials such as laminates or re-purposed glass products. We make things look beautiful according to the architect’s vision.”

The company started as Morgan Hill Millwork in 1959, founded by Marjorie and Leonard Scianna. In 1963, it moved to Santa Clara and changed the named to Mission Bell Manufacturing. During that time, sons John, Gregg and Mark got involved in the family business.

In 1980, Mission Bell moved back to Morgan Hill because of the higher quality of life here and it was less expensive to do business here, Stenehjem said.

Mission Bell is 49 percent employee-owned. It hopes to be 100 percent employee owned by the end of the year. It stays active in the Morgan Hill community with education as well as helping local nonprofit groups. It often conducts tours for Live Oak High School students taking wood-shop classes. In recent years, it has brought in students from the Britton Middle School robotics team to see the robotics used in its state-of-the-art manufacturing of products.

“It’s a very exciting award for us,” Stenehjem said of the 2017 Business of the Year honor. “Mission Bell is kind of the humble hero of the Morgan Hill community in many ways. Even though we don’t have a retail outlet here, it’s not really the people of Morgan Hill who would shop here, it’s not that kind of a business. But the employees and the owners are very charitable and have very strong faith and they give back in so many ways.”