MBA Alumni Click with East Bay Machine

Although East Bay Machine in Concord is not the type of endeavor that those with MBAs usually embark upon, that didn’t stop Sean McLellan and Tim Alvey, both MBA ’05.

In fact, they’ve found their niche successfully manufacturing parts on contract for such companies as Gillig, the nation’s second-largest producer of buses, Flextronics International and Shell subsidiary CRI/Criterion Inc.

“This year we’re on pace for a 30 percent growth rate in dollar volume,” McLellan said. “We’re doing everything we can just to keep up with the orders.” The company has 25 employees, up from the 10 it started out with five years ago. Theirs is an old-fashioned kind of business, usually family-run and rarely operated by owners with formal business training. The two credit their success to the education they received at Saint Mary’s and the friendship they developed while students in the Executive MBA program.

McLellan came from high tech. Alvey was a former Charles Schwab branch manager. They brainstormed countless business ideas as they commuted together to work each day. Alvey was interested in financial services, McLellan in manufacturing. McLellan won out, and after a two-year search he found East Bay Machine for sale online.

“The entire program was so all encompassing of the skills needed to run a business that I felt very competent. And there are a lot of vital things you need to know to run a business. I could have never done this without that education.” -Tim Alvey MBA ’05

“Tim and I took every penny we had and every dollar we could borrow from home equity lines, savings and family. We took a huge risk,” said McLellan. But that risk paid off, and the company has been profitable every quarter of its five-year existence, experiencing double-digit growth year after year. With four acquisitions under its belt and a desire for more, East Bay Machine will continue to expand.

And without Saint Mary’s, it would have never happened, McLellan said. “Saint Mary’s gave us the confidence to come out of the program and take a huge risk and embark on something new.”