Investing in relationships
When Plaskolite integrates its acquisitions, which it typically tries to do within a year or less because its strategy is to have all products under one umbrella, honesty is crucial. The employees want to know what it means for them and their families.
Grindley says if owners sell their companies because they’re not doing well, you, as the buyer, cannot make promises you can’t keep. The employees will see right through that.
You also want to spend time with the new employees. Bring them to your company, to your headquarters. Invest in them.
“Every acquisition is different as far as the people. But at the end of the day, you have to get them comfortable with where they’re going and show leadership,” Grindley says.
You have to work hard at the relationships with your employees — both old and new. The four top managers at Plaskolite visit plants every quarter to help them feel like they’re a part of the company.
Plaskolite also takes the same approach with its customers. It might bring in 90 customers to its headquarters one week, while still having the ability to pick up the phone and call a single manager or owner.
“It all started with the Dunn family. They really valued the relationship and quite honestly again it gets back to — we compete against major corporations, they change people very rapidly and never really get close to the customer,” Grindley says.
- Grab on to your opportunities — or make your own.
- Experience is critical in M&A. Value it.
- A strong culture and relationships don’t just happen. It takes work.
Name: Mitchell Grindley
Title: President and CEO
Company: Plaskolite LLC
Education: Bachelor’s in economics from The Ohio State University
What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I worked at a Fotomat in a parking lot where people would drop off their film to be developed. As a teenager, you would get bored, so you’d look at the pictures. It was like Facebook. When they would roll up, I would know exactly what’s going on in their family. A lot of people take some really interesting pictures. That was a great job.
What was the hardest management skill for you to learn? At times I’m a very positive person so I tend to move ahead. I had to learn to take a deep breath before you charge ahead.
Where might someone find you on a weekend? I’d say with my grandson or on a golf course — although not too much the last two years. I sure haven’t had a lot of time lately for golf. (According to the USGA’s Golf Handicap and Information Network, his handicap is 12.8.)
Do you have a favorite local course? The Golf Club
Is there anything people might find surprising about you? I’m an identical twin and he works here as the COO.