Company Owner Tackles a Business Slump

Lori Hilson

When Lori Hilson Cioromski joined the family business, TH Hilson Company, in 1985, she began attending industry meetings to learn all she could about specialty chemicals. Most of the time, she was the only woman in the room.

Ms. Cioromski didn’t let the male to female ratio skew her drive. She went on to become a sales manager, and then moved up the corporate ladder, eventually becoming company president in 2001.

Early on, she set a goal of reaching $25 million in sales within 25 years and was well on her way to reaching that goal when the recession hit. Almost overnight, the phone stopped ringing. Business dried up. She would wake up in middle of night in cold sweat, and her stomach was in knots. Amidst the gloom, she recognized all she did have: a wonderful husband and a blended family of six that included a new baby. Looking into her baby’s eyes, she vowed not to let fear overwhelm her, and she took action.

Ms. Cioromski took the difficult step of reducing her staff by a third, and she won support from top management who agreed to take a temporary pay cut. She expanded the company’s territory into other states, developed new markets and built a strong management team focused on a commitment to service and growth.

In 2013, TH Hilson experienced its best year ever. The company has seen growth of 42 percent, and last year, there it was: they reached the sales goal of $25 million within 25 years.

It may sound like a platitude, but Ms. Cioromsk will be the first to tell you that it pays to have a positive attitude. She never once thought about giving up. Her employees, her customers and her family were the impetus that kept her going.


About Emilia DiMenco

Emilia DiMenco is President and CEO of Women’s Business Development Center and Retired Executive Vice President BMO Harris N.A. Emilia DiMenco was named president and chief executive officer of the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) on August 1, 2013, a transition from co-founders, Hedy Ratner and Carol Dougal. Emilia joined the Women’s Business Development Center as chief operating officer in July 2010 after completing a 30-year career as an executive vice president with BMO Harris N.A. Emilia had P&L responsibility for 80% of her career and managed budgets in excess of $200 million with revenues multiples greater. Her responsibility included leadership and management for 600 commercial banking employees.