During the first quarter of 2010 – still in the midst of a questionable economic climate – CEO Neil Mortine and his staff at Fahlgren remained disciplined and true to their growth plan.
“We worked to identify, target, pursue, negotiate and complete two strategic acquisitions that have positioned us well for the future,” Mortine says. “These purchases strengthen our service offerings for our clients, allow us to meet the changing demands of the marketplace, and provide increased opportunities for our associates.”
This strategic foresight has allowed Fahlgen Mortine to sustain more than 100 jobs regionally, and remain focused on growing its clients’ businesses and further impact the local economy.
Mortine was named one of 2010 Smart Leader honorees by Smart Business and Blue Technologies. We asked him about how he faces challenges, innovates and gives back to the community.
Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.
After completing the deals, the challenge came in quickly integrating two different cultures and ways of doing business into ours. To help welcome the more than 30 new people to the Fahlgren family, we formed an integration team and implemented their recommendations, which included – among other activities – developing an internal blog that allowed everyone to learn about their new co-workers, improving our teleconferencing abilities to better connect with our new locations, setting up telecommuting stations for our new associates to spend time working at headquarters, upgrading everyone’s computers to ensure platform consistency, and providing additional training to ensure maximum use of all of our tools and resources.
In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?
It’s not a new concept, but I believe passionately in building a strong culture – one that attracts professionals who want to grow their careers at Fahlgren. We work in a challenging, deadline-driven, creative business, and so as a leader it’s my responsibility to help release the pressure valve from time to time. We hire smart, driven professionals, and if we provide them with the tools they need to be successful, trust and empower them to do what’s right, and make sure they’re happy and fulfilled in their jobs, they produce great work that is innovative and leading-edge and in turn attracts great clients. So, to decompress we take our associates to a movie at least once a quarter, celebrate crazy holidays such as Groundhog Day with a breakfast that involves catching tossed pancakes, have quarterly all-agency meetings when we share business progress, referee highly competitive eating contests, and so much more.
How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?
In addition to providing more than 100 jobs regionally, all of our work is focused on growing our clients’ businesses which further impacts our community and local economy. Additionally, I am a former chairman of the board of trustees for the Franklin Park Conservatory, and I serve as a board member for The Ohio Historical Society, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Columbus State Community College Development Foundation, and McConnell Arts Center. I believe strongly in giving back to our community and our industry, and as a result I encourage and support our associates who want to get involved. Fahlgren staffers impact our community by supporting many great causes including the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Donate Life, The Buckeye Ranch, and so many more.
How to reach: Fahlgren, http://www.fahlgren.com/
The Smart Leaders class of 2010
In August, 2010, Smart Business and Blue Technologies recognized 14 business leaders for their commitment to business excellence and the impact their organizations make on the regional community. Treated to a keynote address by TechColumbus CEO Ted Ford, these 14 leaders composed the honor roll:
- Michelle Adams, president, Prism Marketing
- Jeff Brock, general manager, The Loth Co.
- Tom Dailey, president, 2Checkout.com
- Jennifer Griffith, president, Commerce National Bank
- Darla King, owner and president, King Business Interiors
- Elizabeth Lessner, CEO, Betty’s Family of Restaurants
- Rick Milenthal, president, Engauge
- Michelle Mills, CEO, St. Stephen’s Community House
- Janis Mitchell, founder, president and CEO, Precise Resource
- Neil Mortine, president and CEO, Fahlgren Inc.
- Debra Penzone, president, Charles Penzone Family of Salons
- Joel Pizzuti, president, The Pizzuti Cos.
- Bea Wolper, partner, Emens & Wolper Law Firm
- Eric Zimmer, CEO, Tipping Point Renewable Energy