Interview with Dawn Stancavish of Massa Products
Dawn F. Massa Stancavish, Chief Innovation Officer & COO, of Massa Products Corporation is responsible for increasing the amount of new product sales at Massa and getting customers and partners alike to be proud to sport the MassaSonic® Brand for Cobranded Developments. She is a published writer and artist, and inventor. She holds a master’s degree in Psychology with a focus on Systems Dynamics (FDU), and a Certificate in Finance (Harvard Business School), and also is the mother of two wonderful boys.
We sat down with Dawn to discuss her experience navigating and building upon a company her grandfather started over 75 years ago.
Who are your biggest influences?
Being 3rd Generation here at MASSA in Hingham, I feel that my greatest influences are my father, Don Massa with whom I work with and learn from every day; and my Grandfather, Frank Massa who I lovingly and strongly remember from my childhood. They both have taught me what I understand of MASSA’s fundamental business and engineering values.
As far as other companies that I admire – I respect innovative companies (and the leaders that take them to great places) especially when they are able to maintain a strong corporate culture that is unique to them no matter how big they grow. Anyone that leads their company to do the “impossible” successfully, and has a dedicated loyal and enthusiastic team that enjoys working with them – is a business leader I respect and strive to be myself.
A piece that most people leave out when asked this question are outside influences. For me, my background is in Systems. I believe that all people have a whole system of influences working together that affects them as they evolve. This can be seen in what choices they make, and what things they achieve. Such influencers are often categorized by others to be unrelated. For example; most people would not think that what type of food they eat, or music they love, has anything to do with their day to day leadership. But to me, everything works together. Therefore – I feel that I have strongly been influenced by all of my interests – music that I listen to, artists that I appreciate, writers that I relate to, and the things in all areas of my life that I feel strongly about (my family, food & travel) etc. My children inspire me in many ways!
My creative influences are potentially the most instrumental components in my thinking, and in my leadership. I feel it important to challenge my team to think creatively. At Massa we don’t just think outside the box – we think outside the tesseract. We’re pioneers, we’re inventors, we’re producers, and we’re rock ‘n roll.
What drove you (or your family) to start your company or firm?
I did not start Massa, however I am leading it in some new directions. We are growing. We are also developing new products and technologies that allow for electroacoustics to be a solution even when it has not been before.
We are boldly going where no sound has gone before!
Here at Boston Private we understand that wealth rarely has to do with money. What is your wealth really for? Tell us a little bit about what motivates you – the Why behind your passion and Why you work so hard to achieve your goals?
I believe that each person has certain likes, desires, hobbies, and potential – some may call these things talents or gifts. I believe it is our responsibility to peruse these gifts and grow our talents through our work. When we do this, we are fulfilling our purpose. Businesses that have a clear sense of what they are in business for, and then hire the talents to achieve those goals are often successful and have happy employees. Just like people businesses have purpose. Businesses and people who are actualizing this purpose thrive. This in turn leads to wealth, and the wealth is managed opposed to consumed.
As a business person, what has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Challenge is an interesting word and concept. There are day to day challenges, the challenges that arise with every new business opportunity, and there are operational challenges that occur internally. We had a corporate culture challenge a few years back, where we had to let go some higher-up people in the company. This was the best decision we ever made! The company has never been stronger from an internal cultural standpoint, and from a real business and sales standpoint.
Presently we are all faced with the COVID-19 challenge which threatens us; as a nation, a Commonwealth, as families, as employees, and as employers: In our case Massa is an essential business; providing necessary SONAR to our Navy so that we may be protected as a Nation and as a people. As an employer, I am not only challenged to meet those demands, but to meet the demands that are necessary to protect my employees. Everyone at Massa is considered a part of the extended Massa Family, as such we care tremendously about keeping them healthy, safe, and employed.
What are some of the things you have learned about yourself that surprised you most?
Luke: Master, moving stones around is one thing. This is totally different.
Yoda: No. No different. Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.
Luke: All right, I'll give it a try.
Yoda: No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.
I think that many things are mind over matter. I am not sure exactly of any one example. Challenges come and go, and growth is constantly evolving. There are times when we all have moments of doubt, and moments of surprise. I have found within myself a resilience, and a strength, that I can do whatever it takes to rise to any occasion. I have found times when I did not know that I had such strength, but handled things better than I had believed possible. There are also lots of times where I could have done much better – but that’s great because that is how we learn! We encourage all our employees to take educated risks to the best of their abilities, but if they make mistakes, we simply process them as learning opportunities.
“If I could spend 30 minutes with a person of import, it would be….
For me, I wish I could have 30 minutes with my Grandfather. He died in January 1990, I wish I could talk with him about how things are going now. I would love to here what his ideas today would be, and what his thoughts are. I wish I learn more from him as an adult.
My second choice would be Elon Musk. I would love the opportunity to discuss mutually beneficial business possibilities!
My favorite part of the day is?
The early morning because it feels like time stands still, and I can accomplish more things in a short period of time. My mind is also fresh and clear.
Massa Products Corporation is located at 280 Lincoln Street, Hingham, MA 02043. We are the eyes and ears for naval ships and submarines that protect the U.S. coastline with our undersea technologies. We were founded by the man who pioneered the field of electroacoustics more than 70 years ago, Frank Massa, and the company maintains family ownership and leadership. Massa engineers and manufactures sonar and ultrasonic products for use in the water and air. Our products are for sale in commercial or industrial markets, and to the military.