Making It Work in the Third Generation: The Tyler Equipment Company

Making It Work in the Third Generation:UMass
The Tyler Equipment Company

by Kitty Axelson-Berry

Is there some grand success–or catastrophe–that would be informative for readers as family business people?

Well, the big success is that we’re still here.My grandfather and grandmother started this in 1922, renting half a building at the end of Columbus Avenue, selling anything–tools, brushes, paint.They survived the Depression intact and went into construction, which was good during the wars and during the building of the highway system, which was for defense purposes. 

But it’s a cyclical business, very dependent on the economy, and in the late ’80s and early ’90s when a lot of banks failed, it was very difficult.In ’88 we were at an all-time high and in ’89 we had a free-fall.It was really the worst time, very traumatic.We had to cut way back on our employees.But we kicked and clawed and scratched and we’re still here.

What has the succession been at Tyler?

Let’s see if I can get it right.There was the grandfather and grandmother,and there’s my father, M. Brooke Tyler, Jr., and uncles Wallace Tyler, and Grant Tyler. Aunt Fern, who was not active in the business, upon my grandfather’s death, became one of the owners.Then there’s M. Brooke Tyler, III and me, Bill; and Grant Tyler, Jr. and Thomas. More…