Passing the Torch: Telamon CEO Albert Chen retires and his children take over
Albert Chen, founder of Telamon in Carmel, is not your typical CEO.
He doesn’t flaunt his wealth. He isn’t a cutthroat business executive who plans layoffs or price increases to maximize profits. He avoids the spotlight and humbly deflects when asked about his success.
“I keep a very low profile. I can’t do anything. I’m just a little guy,” he said. “You have a lot of people, very smart, and they are willing to work for us, and I want to take care of those people. I’ve never been the highest paid employee. I pay someone else more money. They are much more valuable than me.”
Chen came to the United States from Taiwan in 1968 at age 25 and spent more than a decade working with GTE. He founded his telecommunications company Telamon in Carmel in 1985 and built it into an $800 million business with 1,400 employees.
Telamon’s initial focus was developing and selling phone systems, but it has since diversified into various fields, including medical billing, logistics, energy, supply-chain management and more. He jokes about how he couldn’t even spell the word “engine” but now Cummins is a major client.
To this day, Telamon is Indiana’s largest private company. Chen has resisted the call to go public because he wants to run the company his way.
After 30 years, Chen retired this month and handed over the reins to his children. His son Stan, currently chief operating officer, will become CEO, and his daughter Stephanie, currently president of Telamon’s Telecom Solutions division, will become chief operating officer.
“If you believe in your successor, then why stick around forever?” Albert Chen said about why he chose to retire.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said Chen’s presence has been felt.
“Albert is a great American story,” Brainard said. “Built a tremendous business. He’s a very humble and unassuming man who looks out for his employees. Widely respected by every business leader and member of the community that’s aware of him and his wife.”