Avoid bad growth

Not all growth is good. Growth of my midsection, for example, is bad. Growing disengagement within a company’s culture is bad, and could be counterproductive to the type of growth most companies seek: growth in the bottom line.

This month Smart Business celebrates companies that managed to avoid the former (counterproductive growth, not the waistline) and realize the latter — companies in Summit, Medina, Portage, Wayne, Stark, Holmes and Ashland counties that overcame business and market challenges to increase sales and headcounts, providing a boost to their communities’ economies.

Community growth stemming from the success of companies planted within its borders is a big deal. Businesses can become landmarks in their hometowns, their names intertwined. These companies create opportunities and can be anchors that cities and towns can build around, further developing the physical and economic landscape.

That level of consistent growth is challenging. It means adding staff to accommodate the added business, training and managing them to continue to provide the service that got the business to where it is. It means more clients, more products or services to provide. It means a larger organization that needs to operate with the same level of service and quality as it had when it was a smaller company.

Business leaders often talk about how companies need to prepare for growth. Handling its stages requires tact and planning, otherwise the growth can outpace the company’s ability to manage it. The company starts to underperform. Clients are lost and growth is stunted, business declines and progress is reversed.

The companies featured in these pages have maintained growth over a five-year period — some greater than others, and some for longer than others, but all are on an upward trajectory. They’ve added jobs and contributed to the economy, which strengthens communities. That’s something to celebrate.

Adam is interested in the people and businesses making a difference in Akron/Canton.