All aboard

Mike Salfity was an outsider who needed to quickly become an insider at Audatex North America Inc.

Last year, Salfity was the new guy in town at Audatex. A longtime executive at Xerox, he had made the decision to leave a comfortable perch at a well-known company and take on the managing director’s position at Audatex, an insurance claims solutions company owned by Solera Holdings Inc., which has 1,800 employees under its umbrella and generated $557 million in fiscal 2009 revenue.

Salfity needed to formulate a go-forward vision for the company. To do it, he needed to connect with customers and employees in rapid-fire fashion, getting as many people as possible on board in a short time frame.

If creating companywide buy-in and strengthening customer relationships made up the total of everything on Salfity’s rapidly filling plate, that would have been more than enough. But there was something else: Audatex had been acquired by another company a few years prior and had not yet completely meshed culturally with its new parent.

“Our customers have seen a lot of change,” Salfity says. “A lot of them had questions about Audatex’s vision for the future, our commitment to North America, how we play as a global company, and are we committed to this marketplace? My mission in many of my initial conversations was to help them understand that I left a very good career at Xerox, I’m here on my own, and get them to understand that this isn’t an experiment for me. I’m here for the long haul, and I am going to focus on this business.”

But saying it and communicating it are two different things. Getting employees and customers to believe the words that are coming out of your mouth means following those words with actions and always keeping your eyes and ears open for feedback from every level of the company as well as from customers.

For starters, Salfity had to do all of the above, and do it within his first 100 days.