The trust equation

Every move a company makes matters. Every transaction, customer and client interaction, product launch and service provided matters; the way employees are treated matters; and every donation made, the boards its executives and employees sit on, and the public and private events they attend or speak at sends a message. For as much work that goes into cultivating an image through branding and marketing, I’m not sure a company can ever be more than the sum of its actions.

That sum is a company’s reputation. It’s what gets talked about after sales calls or high-level meetings between executives. It’s what people say about a company around a dinner table or elbowed up at a bar. It’s the impression people take away from their interactions with a company, and it’s something over which companies have little control. Or do they?

Actions are the product of principles, and a company’s principles are found in its people at every level of the company. Every decision matters and each is a display of character.

While today there seems to be a steady stream of examples of bad decisions being made, there are also companies that have operated in such a way as to amass considerable goodwill and strong trust in the market. For this issue, I spoke with two companies that have done just that.

Hartzler Family Dairy’s glass-bottled milk is recognizable to many shoppers and carries with it an assumption of quality. In my conversation with President Paul Sommers, he revealed that the company had its new string cheese product non-GMO Project-verified, a certification he says won’t actually matter much to the dairy’s customers.

Sommers says “We know that, for some of our customers, they could care less, because they know the way we do things.”

Signet LLC’s leadership, who I spoke with for this month’s cover, said much the same thing. It’s their reputation, how they’ve conducted business since the company’s founding that has led to a strong word-of-mouth network that has brought deals to their doorstep.

A company’s reputation is the sum of all its actions. How do you hope to be remembered?

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