If there’s anything that these past couple years has demonstrated, it’s that nothing is for certain in life or in business. In these days of such ever-changing environments, economies, consumer habits and the like, it’s more than impressive when a company reaches a major milestone. In July, the team at S.B. International, located in Nashville, TN, celebrated its 40-year anniversary of being in business. When we got the invite to join SBI’s celebratory party, it was an instant yes on our end.
Founded 1982 in Nashville, SBI is a premier supplier of cylinder head components to the automotive, light truck, small and medium-duty diesel, heavy-duty diesel truck and equipment, agricultural tractor, marine, and industrial engine markets worldwide. To complement all that product, SBI relies on more than 20 warehouse distribution centers located throughout the United States and Canada, as well as an efficient network of authorized distributors and remanufacturers around the world.
SBI’s 40th anniversary festivities extended over the weekend of July 15, with a series of luncheons and dinners where SBI customers and business partners came together to celebrate four decades of success. The event drew in a diverse crowd that traveled in from five different countries and three continents, including eight major North American WD suppliers.
Day 1 began with a catered luncheon at SBI’s national headquarters, followed by guided tours from upper management. President and CEO Ryan Hamilton and VP of Sales Phil Data led guests through the entirety of the SBI operation, detailing every aspect of how SBI product becomes reality through R&D and quality control before being placed in that iconic blue and yellow box.
What has remained a tightknit operation, certainly hasn’t remained small. Today, SBI produces a valvetrain component catalog with over 1,200+ pages of product. That’s a lot of components – a far cry from the humble 11-pages of valve seats in their first-ever produced catalog. These products find their way to customer segments such as WDs, PERs, and custom engine and machine shops around the world.
Later that evening, guests attended a dinner at The Southern Steak and Oyster, a staple restaurant in the heart of downtown Nashville. Guests were treated to a delicious four-course meal, complete with an open bar. Many conversations were had while SBI employees and business partners alike reminisced fondly about the past 40 years of successful business.
A few guests (including the EB team) took a short walk over to Broadway St. after dinner to soak in the sights and sounds of downtown Nashville. On request, we stopped at Robert’s Western World for a few drinks and to hear some of the best live music the city has offer. Two insane covers of Ghost Riders in the Sky and The Devil Went Down to Georgia by popular local band Kelley’s Heroes made us want to stay out all night, but alas, we needed to rest for the final festivity of the weekend.
Saturday was the main event – the SBI 40th Anniversary Gala. We showed up promptly at 5:30pm to the Bell Tower, a historic church dating back to 1874, that has since been transformed into a one-of-a-kind modern venue featuring exposed beams, natural light, an upper-level mezzanine, and a full on-site kitchen – making it one of the premier event spots in downtown Nashville.
A live band played smooth jazz throughout the night as caterers served passed hors d’oeuvres. Complete with a bourbon tasting room and an impressive SBI ice sculpture, the venue was perfect for a night of celebration. Legacy customers and new customers mingled, and we got to see a bunch of friendly faces from the industry.
The night culminated in a speech and toast from President & CEO Ryan Hamilton and Founder Christine Barggren. The two discussed the progress SBI has made over the past 40 years, evolving from a simple vision Barggren and her husband had at the kitchen table back in 1982. She said the secret to SBI’s success has been a dedicated team of employees, and the proof is in the pudding.
The team at SBI has a combined 530 years of service, which is thanks in large part to six team members who each have 25+ years of service, and an overall average employee tenure of 13 years. Loyal and dedicated employees produce loyal and dedicated customers, and without the customers there is no SBI.
It was great to see firsthand what 40 years of experience and advancement has led to, and we’re excited to see where the next 40 years of SBI might lead.