Spotlight: Amerifoam's Lisa Bascom on Leadership, Running a Family Business, Community Work and Local Stardom
Lisa Bascom has a secret identity. By day, she’s president and owner of Brooklyn Products International Inc., parent company of AmeriFoam - The House of Foam, the promotional products supplier based in Brooklyn, Mich. But by night, she’s a superhero, a real-life Doctor Strange with the ability to stop and manipulate time. That’s the only possible explanation for Bascom’s remarkable and diverse list of professional and personal accomplishments, anyway.
Let’s start from the top: In January 2019, she took over Brooklyn Products, the family business her grandfather started in 1951, succeeding her father. She’d been at the company since 1997, working on production lines at the facility during summer breaks. After graduating from Western Michigan University with a BSA in business and criminal justice, she joined up full time as human resources manager. She got involved in everything from sales to administration to safety and quality control, learning the ins and outs of running a business and how to handle working with family.
“The biggest challenge is to not let the emotions of outside family problems affect the business,” she says. “Also, different generations most often have contrasting vision on business and goals. I have never called my dad ‘Dad’—he has been Bob since I walked in these doors. I have never wanted my employees to feel there is favoritism due to my family relationship. In fact, it is the exact opposite. I am held to a higher standard and expectation.”
Running a business would be enough to keep anyone busy. Time is at a premium. There’s just not enough of it to go around. But, for Bascom, business is just the start. And that’s why we’re buying into the secret sorcerer theory here.
See, Brooklyn Products/AmeriFoam is only one of Bascom’s passions. She served on the Michigan Promotional Professionals Association (MiPPA) board of directors from February 2016 through August 2018, chairing its annual end-buyer show, acting as treasurer and serving as president elect on the executive board. She served six years on the Brooklyn-Irish Hills Chamber of Commerce board of directors, filling various roles. She’s given back through AmeriFoam in various ways, providing items for annual community events and donating space to the local food pantry. She currently serves on the Columbia Schools Education Foundation board of directors, and in March 2019 she won the Citizen of the Year award for her work in the Brooklyn-Irish Hills community.
We’re out of breath just typing that paragraph, but if you guessed there was more, you’d be right. In addition to all that, Bascom is an accomplished singer and a minor Michigan celebrity. She’s been singing in front of huge crowds at Michigan International Speedway since 2001, performing the Canadian national anthem (and occasionally the U.S. national anthem) at five races a year since 2001. She also sings at weddings, parades, memorial services and other local events.
When I ask Bascom how this all plays into her leadership style at AmeriFoam, she says it’s simple. “I strive to create long-term professional development for my employees,” she tells me. “I truly want my employees to succeed. I encourage and commend all successes no matter how small or big. The best advice I can give? Always do the right thing, every day, for yourself and your employees and customers.”
Always do the right thing? Exactly what a superhero would say.