Leading from Your Values: Meet All Chem’s Founder, Steve Quadrel

Our customers know we’re a family business, and we have been since the beginning. We’re value-led, committed to our team and our customers, and driven by excellence and innovation. Since our founding in 1978, we’ve been an industry leader in chemical processing and manufacturing.

We learned it all from our company’s founder and owner, Steve Quadrel. He established the very foundation we stand on today, whose values guide not just what we do but how we do it.

You’ve been getting to know us behind the scenes: what makes us tick, what keeps our business successful even in uncertain times. You’ve met our COO, Anthony, and now it’s time to meet Steve.

Sitting Down with Steve

To know Steve Quadrel is to understand his commitment to quality and attention to detail. He has an informal, easy-going personality that belies a sharp business acumen.

We sat down with  Steve to ask about his values, his advice, and his thoughts on the business; and we’re excited to share that conversation with you!

So tell us, would you have any advice for someone starting out in this industry?

“My biggest piece of advice is to share ideas and camaraderie among your peers. You’re not gonna go this alone. Building a team you can trust is what will make or break you in this business. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating that. People who think they can just lone-cowboy their way to the top . . . well, let’s just say, they don’t last long around here!

“Make your company recession-proof. We’re lucky in this industry; chemical companies are natural canaries in the coal mine. When there’s a recession on the horizon, we’re the first to know, because ordering of non-essentials slows down. And when the recession comes, you need a business that’s strong in the essentials. Our mainstays at All Chem—water, power, and pharmaceuticals—are recession-proof. Sure, the world might be falling apart, but people are still gonna need their meds. They still need to flush their toilets, wash their dishes, stay hydrated. They still need to flip a switch and have electricity. If you can’t turn on your coffeepot in the morning, you know there’s a problem!”

Steve grinned for a moment at his own joke, then got thoughtful. “I think the final thing I’d say is, Keep a diversified portfolio. Always be open to new opportunities and expanding your horizons. Companies that can pivot and adapt: those are the companies that survive. But—and this is a big ‘but’—never, ever cut corners when it comes to safety and your company values. You don’t want to pivot away from those. The second you do, you’ve started losing your way.”

What would you say are the values that have led to you being a pillar in the community, with a solid reputation among your clients?

“Look, if you’re good to your community, the community will be good to you. Simple as that. I care about giving back, being of service. When we planned the installation of our Lakewood solar farm, I was thrilled that we could build free charging stations for people to use! Plus, I’m proud that we’re one of the few Kosher-certified providers in New Jersey, especially with a Kosher-grade wash rack. We’re providing something the community needs, and people appreciate that.

“Here’s the way I explain it to my team. I say, think about your favorite restaurant. What makes it your favorite? There’s consistency: every time you go, you have a good experience. There’s friendliness: you’re treated well, they know you. And there’s dependability: the quality of the food is always high. So let’s apply that to our business. How can we provide that level of service to our customers? And the answer is, By having a solid team you can trust. The company is only as good as the people who work for you and alongside you!

What can you tell us about running a multigenerational family business? How do you make that a success?

“Oh, that one’s easy—easy to say, anyway!” Steve laughs. “At the end of the day, you need to let bygones be bygones. Don’t hold on to things or dredge up grudges. Use your wisdom to be a peacemaker, and remember: it’s family over everything.

How has the transition been to shared leadership with Anthony?

“Seamless,” Steve says without hesitation. “When the time came to appoint a COO, I knew we’d need someone who fit in with our company values. I wanted to install someone who was well-liked and respected, laid back but also incredibly smart and business-savvy. Anthony is all those things and more. I couldn’t be happier with his hand at the helm. It’s really been a transition marked by shared values, and the company is better for it.”

Can you share with us one of your most memorable moments at All Chemical?

“Oh, sure, if you think you’re ready for it,” Steve says, winking. “Let’s see . . . this one takes us back to 1980. My fellow old-timers might remember the water shortage in New York that was happening that year. At one point, the USS Intrepid was pulling into New York harbor, and they didn’t have a drop of water to flush their toilets!

“We got a tanker up there pronto, full of water to pump into the ship. We were stationed on the pier for quite a while, and during that time, some big-name movie directors contacted us. Their filming had ground to a halt because they needed water-based effects, and during a drought, they needed the water brought in. Could we do it?

“It still amazes me to this day,” he said, shaking his head. “Talk about seizing opportunities to pivot and diversify! I launched an entirely new facet of our business: Aqua Effects. If you’d told me that getting into bulk liquid transportation would eventually mean me working for household name productions like Jimmy Fallon and Sex and the City, I’d have said you were crazy!

“Of course, since the advent of CGI, that element of the business has mostly dissolved. But let me tell you, it sure was fun while it lasted!”

That’s our Steve: a man of grit, humor, loyalty to his people, and an unyielding commitment to quality.

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