TRInternational's Megan Gluth-Bohan doesn't believe in 5-year plans

An attorney by training, Megan Gluth-Bohan never imagined she'd own and lead a chemical supply company. Then she met a guy named Tony, who offered her a job at Edmonds-based TRInternational.

TRInternational's Megan Gluth-Bohan doesn't believe in 5-year plans

Megan Gluth Bohan believes that life is a series small forks on the road.

She said, "If you're not sure what those forks should look like, then I think some people just keep going and missing something."

Gluth-Bohan noticed the tiny forks and decided to leave Minnesota to pursue a career as a lawyer. She moved to Seattle to become CEO and owner at TRInternational, an Edmonds-based chemical supply company whose customers include everything from drilling for oil to making infant formula.

In a Dec. 2, interview, Gluth Bohan spoke about her career, chemicals, and her hopes for her children.


Hobbies: Backyard birding. "I have two pileated woodpeckers, and they still have hummingbirds. It's cold. This is my joy. Honors: Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree for 2016

Day in the Life

10:30 p.m.-10.30 a.m.: Get in bed

How did you get from Seattle to Seattle?

My first wife died from cancer. I needed some fresh scenery to help me grieve. ... I live with family in Seattle, and I wanted to be closer. A friend from law school told me, "You have to meet this guy Tony." I replied, "OK," and he was there when I met him.

Tony Ridnell is the founder of TRInternational. You stated that you hoped he would connect you with some Seattle law firms.

We began a conversation about current events, the best way to run a business and our thoughts. He asked me, right as I was about to leave, "What do your thoughts on Obamacare?" This was 2011, or 2012. This was either 2011 or 2012. I returned home, wrote to him, and stated that I could help you to dismantle Obamacare as an attorney. But I must tell you that if you want anyone to work for your company, they have to have health insurance. I hit send, and he called me. He offered me the job of general counsel for the company.

You were appointed CEO after six years. Which qualities made you a trusted advisor and now a person who is ultimately responsible?

It is important that I am honest and genuine. You must be honest with people in order to be their trusted advisor. Anyone who has ever worked as a lawyer or adviser will know this. I was often the one in a room during my career where people didn't want to hear the truth, and I was that person. It was my job that I delivered this message. As a CEO, it's not that different. ... I simply say "This is broken" when something is not working.

How was your childhood?

I was raised in an Iowa small town. My family was poor. My mom would spend hours in the grocery store, circling it for as long as she could when I was a child. She was sure to make sure that no one she knew would be there when she was on food stamps. Her dignity was evident in that. It is a matter of dignity to work and being able to support your family. As an employer, I take this seriously.

You got married again. Your wife was once a National Park Service forest Ranger. You make a living selling chemicals. What is your dinner conversation like?

It's not like there's a lot of conflict because people often hear chemicals and think, "Oh my god, hazardous waste." It's not that way. We screen all our customers thoroughly to ensure that they are competent to handle chemicals. We have, collectively, established a set standards that surpasses the requirements of government. It's not because it sounds good. We all love to camp, hike, and drink water from the land we work on. This is something we all want to do the best.

Two girls are 5 and 3 years old. What can you give them that you didn’t get as a child, and what are you doing to make it better?

It's like my peers, who I grew up with, were put into a system and made to do the same. While I don't think that's wrong, what I find interesting about this moment in parenting is the fact that I watch my daughters grow and become who they are. There are limits. It is important to be kind to others and to have good manners. I want them to be themselves, whatever that may be.