One of Carolyn Doerle’s biggest strengths is her management style. She blends being a bold decision-maker with being intuitive at the same time. She believes a leader must be able to make informed decisions in a timely manner.
In 2003, Doerle made the decision to buy out her father and family to become the sole owner and CEO of Doerle Food Services LLC, an independent food distributor. Under Doerle’s leadership, the company has grown revenue 800 percent. That growth is due in part to one of Doerle’s riskiest decisions but also the company’s largest turning point —she purchased a new facility in Broussard that was nearly five times the size of their current facility in New Iberia, without the demand to utilize it.
Within three months of purchasing the new distribution center in Broussard, an opportunity presented itself. The Sonic and Subway chains of Louisiana and Mississippi approached Doerle Foods. Doerle had six weeks to demonstrate it had the infrastructure to meet the contract specifications. In those six weeks, Doerle expanded its new plant to full operation, hired and trained more than 100 new employees, purchased 28 new trucks and 40 trailers and hired truck drivers from all over Louisiana, resulting in both the Sonic and Subway contracts. The company still has those contracts today.
Doerle has lived by her philosophy, “An opportunity is never lost; if you don’t take it, then someone else will.” The company’s business depends upon all its resources operating efficiently and effectively. Doerle and her management team pride themselves on being nimble and flexible for their customers. The company’s ability to provide what its customers need on short notice is what sets it apart from the large foodservice providers.
How to each: Doerle Food Services LLC, www.doerlefoods.com
AWARD RECIPIENT / TECHNOLOGY
As a former U.S. Navy member in the field of technology, Adam Jay Harrison knows first hand the value of defensive technology to the survival of deployed soldiers. His passion for helping protect those who serve in the military eventually led him to award-winning success guiding a special endeavor for the Department of the Army, focused on the rapid deployment of new technologies into the battlefield.
But Harrison felt limited in his ability to change the way the Department of Defense acquired new technologies. He wanted to do even more. So in 2007, he personally funded and cofounded Mav6 LLC. The Vicksburg, Miss.-based company develops and incubates rapidly conceived, concept-to-implementation technology solutions designed for “edgefighters” — those at the front lines of war.
As managing director, Harrison has been able to successfully differentiate Mav6 from competitors by deviating from industry norms. The company focuses on leveraging and enhancing existing technologies as opposed to spending a lot of time and money on research and development.
It also deviates from the 100-percent-tested standard, operating under the idiom that a 70 percent solution delivered when it’s needed is better than a 100 percent solution delivered too late.
But most notably, Mav6 is different because the company doesn’t cater to Department of Defense specifications. Instead, the company reaches out directly to its products users — soldiers in the field — while leveraging an extended network of collaborators across industries and academia.
Mav6 used its design-based business model to develop the soon-to-be-launched M1400 airship. The M1400 is equipped with advanced technology that allows the airship to gather, sort and distribute valuable information more efficiently and at a much-reduced cost. When completed, the airship will be the largest unmanned aircraft ever to fly. ?
HOW TO REACH: Mav6 LLC, www.mav6.com
Sometimes in business you have to follow your gut feeling. That is exactly what John Magee had to do when making the tough decision to leave his former company. When Magee’s previous logistics company was faced with a hostile takeover from a private equity company, he saw things he couldn’t tolerate.
Magee felt he needed to create a place where maintaining integrity, caring about ethics and making decisions that allow you to hold your head high meant something. Along with a group of others in executive and leadership positions, Magee walked away from the multibillion business to start a new company. While waiting out a one year nonsolicitation agreement, he developed a strategic plan and a character statement and Crane Worldwide Logistics was born.
Magee, who serves as president of the full-service shipping and logistics company, defined this new organization’s internal culture to be customer-centric, responsible, attentive, operating with integrity and flawless execution. While some may have thought it foolish, Magee embarked without any guarantees. There were no contracts, no salary and no prospects — all during the Great Recession.
Failure wasn’t an option and with the support of eight others who believed in Magee’s vision, he knew success could happen. His vision was to be a global, midsized company that offers personalized customer service and flexibility above and beyond what small companies offer, while creating a global network strong enough that Fortune 500 customers would want to do business.
In August 2008, Crane Worldwide acquired three companies pushing the business to 100 employees in 12 offices, in seven countries. The business has grown organically in more than three years and has now expanded to more than 1,000 employees in 75 offices in 21 countries. Magee expects to reach 120 offices in 35 countries over the next few years.
How to reach: Crane Worldwide Logistics, www.craneww.com
Technology -- Finalist
In an industry that moves at breakneck speeds, where the latest in technology is often outdated by the time it reaches the marketplace, CHR Solutions Inc. remains three steps ahead of its competition. CHR stands out as the leading provider of products and services to communications services providers across the United States. But, James Taylor, chairman and CEO, and Arun Pasrija, president and COO, have faced many challenges to reach the position they are currently in.
Thirty years ago, the two uniquely different men embarked on a journey with a single-minded vision. Unknown to one another at the time, their story begins with one leaving Southern Missouri with $35 in his pocket and the other from India with a $500 loan. They grew up 12,000 miles apart, yet they shared a common dream to build something substantial, meaningful and enduring.
In 2003, their worlds intersected as Taylor and Pasrija met at the Houston Technology Center. Nine years later, their enterprise, CHR Solutions, employs 500 people and serves nearly 1,000 clients worldwide. Creative deal-making, successful integration and relentless cash flow management combined with innovation, skilled technical and managerial talent, and long-lived client relationships, have made CHR the company it is today.
In February, CHR launched OMNIA 360 as its unified back-office system that offers a complete billing and customer care solution delivered on the cloud. Integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, OMNIA 360 delivers a comprehensive, turnkey back-office solution for communications service providers allowing for bundled services.
CHR has also expanded its data center and Network Operations Center to provide critical business components and make cloud computing an affordable option for its clients. Taylor and Pasrija have successfully built a platform company that adopts new solutions in anticipation of future client needs.
How to reach: CHR Solutions Inc., www.chrsolutions.com
Fast forward to the day you step down from your post. How will you be remembered by those left to continue the work? Will your name be thought of fondly, or will people be cheering your departure?
A leader’s legacy depends on how those who follow think about leadership. Likewise, it depends on what they value in a leader. Like an Olympic athlete, your job is to make the most difficult of tasks look easy and graceful. At least that’s what people want, but this is a tall order, says Scott Allen, Ph.D., assistant professor of management, Department of Management, Marketing and Logistics, Boler School of Business, John Carroll University.
“On what are you being judged?” says Allen. “In actuality, leadership is in the eye of the beholder. However, there are some leaders who rise above the rest and truly stand out. This is not magic, nor are people born with it. It boils down to five core elements, which make up a ‘leadership scorecard’ of sorts. Great leaders – the Olympians – have succeeded in five core areas, which I call the 5 Ps: personal attributes, position, purpose, processes and product.”
Smart Business spoke with Allen about the 5 Ps and the best practices of leaders.
What are the personal attributes of a leader’s scorecard?
These are your traits, knowledge, values, skills and abilities. Are you credible? Ethical? Trustworthy? Intelligent? A ‘no’ on any of these will be a difficult pill for many to swallow. People may not know what you know, but they know how you make them feel. So in many ways, personal attributes are all about what you bring to the role. Of course, each one of us brings great strengths and areas for development. The question is, do you have an eye on both, and who is providing you with unfiltered feedback?
How do you use the position of leader?
Is your power used to develop and build others? Or are you perceived as an individual who hoards his or her information and power? Likewise, do you use the position and your authority in a consistent manner, or do you play favorites, lack consistency and abuse your discretion?
How does the leader’s purpose answer the question, ‘Leadership for what?’
Leaders are clearly aligned around a cause or purpose and influence others to follow. Another way to think about purpose is strategy. Is your vision and the strategy behind it one that motivates and resonates with others? Some leaders inspire a shared vision and have the ability to manage that vision into reality. Others fail to inspire the troops. Think about the last time you spoke to, the masses – did they leave energized? Did you?
What practices/processes does a leader use?
The practices/processes of leadership describe how you achieve your purpose and how you move the group, organization, or community from point A to point B. For instance, is your style a democratic one where many feel a part of the endeavor, or is it coercive and autocratic?
What is the end product?
Some wonder if the success or failure of the leader can be determined prior to knowing the final result. In the end, people will determine if they feel that they are better off because of your efforts. Has your time been filled with growth, innovation, and exciting ventures? Or, have your efforts failed to achieve desired results?
Why do all five Ps matter in leadership?
As a leader, you and your senior team need to have an eye on each one of these items. You may have great success and three of the five, but fail in two, and the result is that you are not perceived as a strong leader or leadership team. For instance, you could have the first four Ps in place but lack results and suddenly your job is in jeopardy. Likewise, you could have the last four Ps in place but be perceived as unethical, untrustworthy, and unapproachable. Again, your legacy is tarnished. Just think of all the CEOs and politicians who struggled with one or more of the 5 Ps. Who stands out from your own career? Who did all five well? Who did not and how did it impact their career?
How do you better manage your legacy and ensure that each of the 5 Ps are well balanced?
First, have the 5 Ps on your radar and critically analyze your current state. How are you perceived, how do you use your position, how do you inspire a vision, and do you have systems in place to ensure results? An open and honest conversation between you and your team will likely reveal a great deal. If this culture does not exist, build it.
Next, develop outlets and access to unfiltered feedback. You may not always agree with the feedback you hear, but at least you have a pulse on how you, your vision and your team are perceived. If you are viewed as a person open to positive and negative feedback, you will have access to more information. However, if you are perceived as a person who holds grudges, or responds negatively or even abrasively, then it is likely people will avoid sharing information and honest feedback.
Finally, implementing a simple continuous improvement cycle where you and your team can receive feedback/coaching, gauge progress, identify gaps, and then adjust can take you to the next level of leadership.
Monitoring the 5 Ps will create buyin for your vision, develop trust in you as a leader, ignite employee enthusiasm and productivity, solidify your legacy as a leader and create a system of continuous leadership improvement within your organization. Leaders have a responsibility to help create a culture that is engaging, innovative, and productive. Isn’t that where you would like to work?
Scott Allen, Ph.D., is assistant professor of Management, Department of Management, Marketing, and Logistics, Boler School of Business at John Carroll University. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard Zuschlag operates Acadian Ambulance Service with a focus on two core responsibilities that everyone in the company must carry out. The first responsibility is to serve patients with excellent care. The second is to provide a rewarding, challenging work environment for the company’s employees.
Zuschlag, chairman and CEO, believes these two responsibilities go hand in hand. Excellent patient care cannot occur if employees don’t feel motivated.
Standing alongside Zuschlag, helping to hold up Acadian’s core values, is the company’s senior management team. The 23 employees with the title of vice president or higher have more than 530 years of combined experience with Acadian, and they are all committed to the company and the communities they serve.
With such a high level of experience, the management team has developed a great deal of familiarity with the business and each other. They are able to operate efficiently and effectively in executing Acadian’s strategy. Outside of the company, that commitment extends to community causes, as Zuschlag and his team work with area governments to help promote ways to improve health care and ambulance services in order to make life better in the communities in which Acadian operates.
Zuschlag believes his management team is unparalleled in its strength and knowledge of the business, and his job is to let them execute with minimal interference from above.
He founded Acadian because of his compassion and desire to help others. To this day, his ambition of saving every life, regardless of financial consequences, continues in effect at Acadian. It is a philosophy that has allowed Acadian to become the emergency medical transportation company trusted to provide service in communities throughout Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
How to reach: Acadian Ambulance Service, www.acadian.com
While most entrepreneurs can attest that starting any business is an accomplishment in itself, the formation of a successful Gulf of Mexico oil and gas company in early 2008 required managing a unique set of challenges. Dynamic Offshore Resources LLC was born out of the vision of Matt McCarroll, founder, president and CEO.
As others in the industry continued to exit the shallow water Gulf of Mexico, an opportunity existed to assemble an experienced, well-capitalized team to acquire and develop these producing properties on terms unattainable nearly anywhere else in the world. From inception in 2008 through the company’s sale in early 2012, McCarroll remained adamantly committed to his initial thesis that great opportunities existed in the Gulf of Mexico.
Critical to his vision was the disciplined execution of his acquisition strategy, whereby the company would selectively purchase underworked producing assets from motivated sellers based on conservative valuations of proved reserves. Adhering to this strategy, Dynamic successfully grew its production and reserves nearly 100 percent annually while maintaining a very healthy financial position.
Generally viewed by the industry as a higher risk environment and an out-of-favor basin, McCarroll believed the key to success in the Gulf of Mexico was disciplined execution of his strategy and the elimination of as many risks as possible. Through a comprehensive risk management and insurance program, aggressive hedging, low leverage, and a preference for lower-risk operational activities, he ensured the business was exposed to as little chance as possible from outside forces.
As a result of this approach, McCarroll capitalized. While low price environments, hurricanes and periods of financial turmoil encouraged and, in some cases, required other operators to sell assets, McCarroll had positioned Dynamic to benefit from these circumstances.
How to reach: Dynamic Offshore Resources LLC, www.dynamicosr.com
FINALIST / TECHNOLOGY
In 2009, software designer Don Charlton became involved with AlphaLab, a Pittsburgh-based business start-up accelerator program. At AlphaLab, Charlton had an idea for an HR software program, and with a $25,000 investment from the program, The Resumator was born.
Shortly thereafter, Charlton was approached by a potential customer who then became The Resumator’s ?rst client, and the company was off and running.
Since The Resumator is only about three years old, Charlton remains focused primarily on investing in human capital and of?ce equipment to enable the company to keep expanding. The company’s customer base, which has been growing exponentially, currently numbers more than 700. The Resumator’s sales increased 550 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Last year was the company’s breakout year. It attracted high-pro?le customers such as President Barack Obama’s of?cial re-election campaign, Obama for America, as well as a handful of Silicon Valley customers including Evernote, Pinterest, Atari and Tumblr.
Charlton focuses The Resumator’s product on companies with fewer than 50 employees. U.S. businesses of that size have a total of about 60 million employees, so the company’s pool of potential customers is very large.
The Resumator’s product is a useful tool for recruiting, and the company also acts as a consultant to guide small businesses in making hiring decisions. Unlike its competitors, which lead employers to job seekers but end their assistance at that point, The Resumator takes input data, processes it and arrives at suggested decisions after comparing job seekers. Criteria about both the job seeker and the employer are analyzed and compared, and job seekers are ranked against one another so that the clientemployer can make an informed decision. ?
HOW TO REACH: The Resumator, www.theresumator.com
Many business leaders say all the right things about how much they value their employees. But they often fall short in their actual investment in human capital.
Even though human capital investments are one of a company’s largest expenses, these leaders would rather devote more regular attention to the balance sheet, capital investments and risk analysis.
That is a mistake.
There are substantial benefits from a strategic focus on human capital. Higher profitability is at the top of the list.
Numerous studies consistently show higher year-over-year returns for companies that are strategically focused on human capital. These organizations also have higher levels of employee satisfaction and engagement that parallel higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Given the staggering cost of finding, hiring and keeping employees, there are substantial payoffs if you perform as an industry leader in the human resources area.
Why is it so difficult to focus on human resources? It takes time and commitment. As with all major initiatives, it starts with a clear corporate strategy with board oversight. Senior executives need to assume accountability for outcomes and put clear dashboards in place to measure progress.
For example, leaders of many best-practice companies schedule two days of executive-level meetings quarterly to diligently review their best current and high-potential leaders and individual contributors.
Here are some other things that effective companies do.
- Work to ensure high engagement by involving current and potential leaders in critical work for the organization through regular feedback and through ongoing information flows from senior executives, among other important factors.
- Ensure effective processes in recruitment and selection, on-boarding, and alignment to culture, strategy and role.
- Build an effective performance management system in place with ongoing feedback loops to encourage best performance and optimal results.
- Create continual development opportunities for current employees and ensure future roles are readily available.
- Devote 2 to 3 percent of payroll to learning and development.
The most successful companies also strongly emphasize diversity and inclusion — not just in the traditional areas of focus but also diversity of skills and abilities. In addition, they offer training to ensure that employees at all levels effectively demonstrate inclusion by effectively listening, seeking feedback, giving feedback and managing conflict and differences of opinion.
Why don’t more leaders take full ownership and accountability? Why is human capital reporting not a standard part of executive committee agendas? Why is there a stigma associated with human resources-related functions?
Here is one indication that suggests there is, unfortunately, still a stigma attached to working with HR: In 2008, M.D. Breitfelder and D.W. Dowling — both MBA graduates — explained their career choice by writing a Harvard Business Review story called “Why Did We Ever Go Into HR?”
Human resources and human capital professionals contribute to the lack of understanding of the importance of HR by not speaking in terms of clear business outcomes. In addition, talent management professionals often don’t have a seat at the senior management table. Leaders would do well to involve HR executives at the highest levels and coach appropriately to ensure that HR and talent professionals speak in ways that resonate with the C-suite.
The stakes for human capital are likely to become even higher in the future. Leaders would do well to develop human capital skills and champion talent management overall.
Jay Colker is core faculty for the master’s in counseling and organizational psychology program at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. He also maintains a human capital consulting practice and may be reached at email@example.com or at (312) 213-3421.
Technology – Finalist
When global e-business leaders WPP Group plc and Deloitte Consulting launched Roundarch in 2000 at the height of the dot-com boom, Jeff Maling and Geoff Cubitt were on board.
Five years later, when the company had only one active client and was up for sale, they were still on the scene. But this time, they were the buyers. Their last effort to stay with Roundarch by extending an offer to buy the firm was successful.
Since that time, the two co-CEOs have overseen a 40 percent compounded annual growth by offering rich Web applications, mobile apps, digital marketing campaigns and other digital experiences for the world’s largest organizations.
As an indication of success, business grew nearly seven times over in revenue, employee growth grew to 250 from 35 and million-dollar losses were wiped out. In February, Roundarch accepted an offer from Aegis Media. Maling and Cubitt took over a business called Isobar, and the combined firm became Roundarch Isobar. Nearly 500 employees comprise the new entity.
Roundarch’s relationship with its blue-chip clients has been developed over many years. With Motorola, the U.S. Air Force, Avis, Bloomberg, HBO and Healthways, the client list has been maintained not only through strong management but through an operating model that emphasizes accountability over hierarchy and a culture that rewards performance and innovation.
The values of client satisfaction, respect, focus and results are the touchstones of keeping the company doing the right things without the normal hierarchical structure. A Value Awards program is held regularly to recognize employees who best exemplify these ideals.
How to reach: Roundarch Isobar, www.roundarch.com