How was your day?’ might be a simple dinner table question, but at the Testa home, it often leads to a meal-long discussion of business issues.
Paul Testa is CEO of Cuyahoga Falls-based Testa Cos., which includes construction, real estate, property management and land development divisions. His wife, son, daughter and brother also work at the company. “We have five employees for every one Testa so we don’t overwhelm them,” Testa says.
The company’s 38 employees have helped Testa grow revenue nearly 60 percent from 2003 to 2005, and he expects 2006 revenue to exceed $30 million.
Smart Business spoke with Testa about how he creates close-knit relationships with both customers and employees.
Q: How can other CEOs grow their company the way you’ve grown yours?
Concentrate on relationships and on repeat business, as opposed to new business. You’re not always going out, trying to advertise and create new business.
Try to help the organizations you’ve already done business with and hook up with companies that have continued growth. If you satisfy them, you’re going to be part of their growth.
Look at where the growth is in the industry: What expertise do you have, and what expertise do you need to meet their needs?
We’re comfortable in the size of our company now, and we’re really not looking for explosive growth. Growth is good, but profitability is better. You can lose control of growth.
Q: How do you know when a company’s growing too fast?
If you start to drop the ball with your quality and service, you need to take a look at whether or not you need to add staff to meet continued growth or be comfortable where you are.
I’ve always subscribed to the philosophy bigger is not better. I never had a desire to grow to the size we are, but it just sort of hap
How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,’ by Gary Chapman. It’s based on relationships with men and women, but we can take this into the workplace and understand what motivates each person.
Where one person may want verbal affirmation that they’re doing a good job, somebody else may want monetary affirmation. Somebody else may just want a pat on the back.
We try to get a true understanding of what each person wants to be satisfied in their work environment and provide it, and it may be different for all 38 people.
Q: How do you establish team spirit?
If we create a product for a customer, and the customer’s happy, then the employee who helped put that product together feels a sense of pride. It’s not, ‘The company just built that.’ It’s, ‘We just built that.’
‘We’ is the most important word within a company. I don’t like the word ‘I’ because I don’t do anything alone; it’s a team effort.
Q: How does that benefit your customers?
I tell my employees, ‘I’m not the guy who pays your salary; the customer pays me to pass it on to you.’ You don’t need just to satisfy me, you need to satisfy all of us, clients included. That’s the key. The customer’s going to be happy to pay our bills, and he’s going to be happy to recommend us to others.
Q: What advice would you give other CEOs at fast-growth companies?
Your employees are your biggest asset, and if you take care of your employees, respect them and make them part of your family, they’ll respond in kind. As a team, you’ll build a better environment and a better product.
Money comes, and money goes, but if you want to leave a legacy for your family, [it comes down to] what did you do, what did you accomplish and were you right by people? As long as I’m going to have my family’s name on the company, I better bring honor to them.
HOW TO REACH: Testa Cos., www.testacompanies.com or (330) 928-1988