Chris Wingen, Sen. John Thune

Chris Wingen, right, shows Sen. John Thune around the AaLaddin plant in 2016. Wingen has been president of the company since 2013, taking over from his father, Pat.

In some ways, nothing Chris Wingen learned from his father, Pat, could have prepared him for the COVID-19 pandemic. Running a business these days, especially one as large as AaLadin Industries, Inc., means dealing with a situation unlike any other in our lifetimes.

Then again, everything he learned from his father has Wingen ready to keep the company running in these uncertain times.

“You’ve got to be flexible,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to adapt… you don’t know what’s going to be thrown at you.”

Wingen has been president of the company since 2013. At that time, his father was still involved in the company, but he was ready to step back from the day-to-day operations. That doesn’t mean dad didn’t call every day.

“This company was him,” Wingen said. “It was everything about what he loved.”

But gradually, the calls became more personal than business, and when his father passed away earlier this year, Wingen was ready to go it on his own.

It’s a job he’s been preparing for since third grade, when he told his teacher he was going to run the family business when he grew up. Wingen attended Creighton University, graduating with degrees in finance and marketing, but his dad wanted him to first test his skills outside the family business. For two years, Wingen worked at JP Morgan in Denver. When he finally returned to Aaladin, he said it was like coming home, because so many of the people there knew him growing up.

He treasures the years he worked with his father.

See full story in this week’s Leader-Courier.