Lisowski: Maintaining the family atmosphere and the family values of AIT as we’ve grown. Back when I was growing up in Chicago, we had a bank called Continental Bank. Their symbol was a kangaroo with a baby kangaroo in its pouch, and their tagline was ‘We’re the big bank with the little bank inside.’
That’s always struck a cord with me and with AIT. We’re a large transportation company, but we want to be viewed by our customers as a small transportation company. We want to be able to give them all the products and services and great rates that a big company can, but yet we want to have that small feel so we know customers by name, we know employees by name, we have a one-on-one relationship with people.
Leturno: From more of a business challenge, ours is a very people-oriented business. Without good people, all of the values and all of the commitment to service that we’re about wouldn’t happen.
Hiring good people is always the real challenge because every individual has their limitations, and when you get to the size that we are now, it takes every employee, and a strong effort from them, to make the business what it is. If we attract better people, train them well, motivate them well and get them involved in the total process, we’ll be successful.
What has been the greatest business lesson you’ve learned?
Lisowski: I’m torn. It’s either treat everybody like we’d like to be treated ourselves with respect or, No. 1, we’ve got to take care of the customers, and No. 2, we’ve got to take care of our employees.
Leturno: Treating people a certain way and not losing sight of what is really important, which is taking care of the customers and taking care of the employees, is key. If you get a few basic things like that right, all you have to do is repeat that same process over and over again as you draw in more people.
If you just get the formula right and do it over and over again, you can continue growth in basically the same way you started when there were only two of you.
Whom do you admire most in business?
Lisowski: A lot of people have played a very important role in my business career. There’s not one to single out some of these mentors I’ve learned a lot of what to do, and some of these mentors I’ve learned what not to do, but there’s a lot of people that stand out in my mind.
Leturno: We’re competitors with a lot of great people out there. It’s hard to say we admire them. We may strive to keep up with them, but we don’t know the owners well enough to say that they were mentors.
We’ve had to do it on our own.