How Ryan Gunnigle keeps Kids II ahead of the curve

Ryan Gunnigle, President and CEO, Kids II Inc.

Ryan Gunnigle’s company Kids II Inc. has grown at almost 25 percent a year for the last four years.

“Just really keeping up with that growth is probably mine and the executive staff’s biggest challenge,” says the president and CEO.

With 400 employees spread out over 12 different offices, it’s quite the challenge for Gunnigle and his staff, but he manages to not let the growth eat him up.

Smart Business spoke with him about how to not let rapid growth consume your organization.

What’s the key to staying ahead of rapid growth?

There’s a lot of components to that but I think it’s strategic planning and trying to do a better job of that every year so you can lay down the plan — not a big, formalized process but really try to lay it down so it’s well thought out and you have everybody’s buy-in and everybody in the organization moving in the same direction. Continually try to do that while your organization is growing fast and changing and becoming more and more dynamic every year.

Really try to innovate and do things you haven’t done before. As you get bigger, some of that effort gets diffused sometimes, so it’s keeping in front of that.

How do you do that?

Your job as the leader is really to visualize where we want to go and a lot of components go into coming up with that overarching vision. The biggest thing is within your organization to come up with a way you can get everybody’s buy-in, and as you grow, it’s harder to put together an environment that fuels that thought process that helps you get to where you’re visualizing.

What I try to do is come up with a very simplistic way to show everybody the very basic way that helps communicate where we’re going as an organization and try to simplify that as best you can so everybody has a clear understanding of what they can do or what they need to do to be able to help the organization get there. As you grow as an organization, your top leaders’ time is consumed with everything but business-driving activity sometimes.

Honestly, it’s the infrastructure we have in place that really fuels the great people that fuel us and help us get to long-term goals. They’re the ones that really develop a lot of it. We work with them and what is their wish list and what is their paradigm-shifting activity that can propel the organization to what our top-line goals are. They’re the ones that come up with the really strategic, outside-the-box [ideas] that makes us more competitive and really fuel the team and have the environment that the teams can prosper in that way and really contribute.

Culture really starts at the top. The bottom line is you really have to give. You have to really care about your team. I think that shows to what you do in your organization.

How do you show you care?

We really strive to not have a real roll-up-your-sleeve mentality. Those kinds of things set the pace. Every year we try to improve the employees’ experience, whether it’s benefits or work atmosphere or it’s activities at the office. Keep it fun, keep it fresh. Get an environment where people really enjoy coming to work, and they’re excited about coming into the office and working for somebody who inspires them. As soon as you stop trying to get to that point, you’ve failed. That really sets the pace for the organization. I fully expect from the Kids II team as much as I expect from myself.

In evaluating employees and people, one of the quickest things that comes up to me, let’s say you have an A-player, but they just don’t fit corporately, that type of person will not succeed at Kids II. I’d rather have a B-player that cares about the business as much as or more than I do than having an incredibly smart person who’s distracted in certain areas.

How to reach: Kids II Inc., (770) 751-0442 or www.kidsii.com

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