“Susan and I will have a little cross-confrontation with one another about something in front of everybody, and everybody gets dead quiet,” Brian says. “And then one of us will smack a little joke right afterwards and everybody lightens back up again.”
Some people try to keep work and home separate, but Brian believes that you really can’t do that.
“If you’re having problems at home, it’s going to show at work, no matter who you are. It shows up,” he says.
This belief is part of the reason why every year Brian and Susan share a one-year and five-year goal that they’ve written down. They ask their employees to do the same with a work and/or personal goal, and encourage them to read it aloud.
Brian says it’s amazing how the act of writing it down and having people ask about it helps the goal become more attainable.
Adapting with growth
As the company has grown to more than $5 million in annual revenue and from three full-time employees to 17, plus a temporary crew of 20 to 60, Brian and Susan’s roles have moved further apart.
“Because of our growth, I think there’s become more separation between his and my duties,” Susan says. “I know I used to cross over into his sandbox a couple times, and he would come over into mine — but not anymore.”
It helps that Brian and Susan have a focused CFO who comes in once a week. Not only does he prepare the financial statements, he can give advice or suggestions with a fresh eye, Susan says.
“If he talks, we pay attention to him,” Brian says.
In addition, the couple got help from a Dayton company, Aileron, which teaches professional management to small business owners. Not only did they learn from Aileron, they also sent their executives and team leaders through the training.
But the company’s growth has brought its challenges, too — namely finding people who can handle the workload and work well on a team, Brian says.
HES has had high turnover over the past two years, because even though employees are paid more, a lot of responsibility comes with that. Turnover is particularly problematic when the company may spend thousands on training.
To counteract that, Brian and Susan are approaching people after they work as temporary employees.
“That makes sure to get the right people who can handle the stress and with the right personality,” Brian says. “Because they have to have the respect of the people that are working for them anyway, and what better way to do it than have them work with them before becoming a supervisor.”