Case Studies

ODL: Using Culture To Shape A Multinational Expansion

Solid. Soft. Risky.

These are three words that ODL, Inc., manufacturer of glass for doors and entries for more than 70 years, discovered they needed, as a company, to anchor the values of their culture:

  • Solid. A strong, inclusive workforce dedicated to quality in manufacturing and fiscal health.
  • Soft. A compassionate, community-minded company.
  • Risky. A team of innovators and problem-solvers.

Based in Zeeland, Michigan, ODL developed these values to align with the ethos of founder Cy Mulder. When Mulder began the company out of his home woodshop in 1945, it was one of the first in the U.S. to create beautiful, crafted door-glass products that were separate from doors. ODL began manufacturing high-quality decorative and clear glass for entryways just as the suburbs began to boom with the first wave of single-family homes following WWII.

Values are timeless. But times change, and in the past few years ODL has found itself navigating the supply demands and fluctuating market of the pandemic and, simultaneously, its own expansion in North America and beyond.

 External pressure and business growth created a new culture need.

The Value of the Pause

It was the kind of uncertain, deep-breath moment every leader faces. In the moment, leaders can choose to barrel ahead into action. Or, like Jeff Mulder, ODL’s CEO, and Dave Klein, President and COO, they can take the pause.

In the pause, ODL reconsidered their culture. They listened to their people, and together expressed the kind of company they did and did not want global ODL to become.

ODL realized that they wanted to embrace growth, but never at the expense of quality or their privately-held culture. Rather than aiming to become a household brand, ODL clarified their aspirations: to be team-focused, performance-driven, competitively relevant, and privately held for generations to come. 

“We take pride in ODL’s 77 years and counting as a viable private company. We aren’t the biggest in our business. We don’t want to be. We are respected and we aim to be the best, protecting our history and who we really are. That’s at the core of our culture.”   

—Dave Klein, President and COO

By acknowledging what was at the core of their culture, ODL leadership was then able to progress on their Culture Equation Journey™, crafting new beliefs that reflect the experiences they want all their teams — in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia — to align in. And, of course, they refined these beliefs to empower all ODL employees to achieve key financial results, clearly communicated and owned. 


The process continues, and ODL thrives today: using the ODL Cultural Beliefs to focus on continuing their upward trajectory on the Great Place To Work® index. CEO Jeff Mulder remains committed to his great grandfather’s founding culture-centered vision for the company: to make their customers’ lives better.

Related Stories

Learn More

How One Global Restaurant Chain Pivoted on Accountability

Learn More

Cardiac Pacemakers: 9x stock price growth

Learn More

Flexible Materials: From divestment threat to 12% return on capital

What Can We Help You Find?