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How does someone go from pursuing a professional singing career in Los Angeles to owning one of the world’s most successful industrial caster companies? Just ask Sally Hughes, CEO and Founder of Caster Connection, Inc., a Tier 1 Supplier for BMW.

After graduating from college, Sally moved from her native Ohio to start a singing career in Los Angeles. She attributes her time in the entertainment business for teaching her the value of self-sufficiency, preparation, and the importance of networking. But after six years of singing in some of the best clubs on the West Coast, Hughes says she never hit the “big time.”

Little did she know much bigger success was waiting for her back in Ohio. When she returned home, Sally continued singing in local clubs, but she also began taking interest in her father’s school-supply business.

“One day, I heard about a school that needed some replacement wheels for their office chairs,” she recalls. “So I gathered up some caster models in a grocery bag, loaded a fishing tackle box with components, and started a new career.”

Her moxie turned out to be a game-changer.

After several years in the field, Sally started her own company. That’s where she and her team created an ergonomically designed caster that eliminated floor “slag” — a problem that often led to employee injuries in manufacturing plants. Today Caster Connection, Inc. is a multimillion-dollar global business with clients in the agriculture, appliance manufacturing, food service, medical, shipping and travel industries.

As a Tier 1 Supplier for BMW, Sally has attended many diversity supplier conferences. She says the most important thing for attendees to remember is to be prepared.

“You have to really make sure you’ve upped your game,” Sally says. “In other words, if you want to sell to my company, you have to understand who we are and bring something different or innovative that provides real measurable value to me.”

With so many opportunities available at the 2019 BMW Supplier Diversity Conference, Sally understands the concept of “stage fright” and how nerves can play a role when making an introduction.

“Going back to my singing career, I believe that being nervous is a good sign. It shows that you are passionate and that you take the opportunities available to you very seriously,” Sally says. “Even when I played music, I didn’t just become a piano player or a singer who knew songs. I practiced and practiced — sometimes eight hours a day.” She leaves conference-goers with this final thought: “Practice, be professional, and be persistent.”

Caster Connection, Inc. is a master distributor of elite-brand casters, wheels, and other material-handling products. Three decades after its 1987 launch from the trunk of Sally Hughes’ car in Chardon, Ohio, Caster Connection sources products globally with thousands of international clients. The company is dedicated to developing innovative and optimal solutions that deliver enhanced ergonomics, safety, and efficiency for every partner.