As president and CEO of Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA), Dr. Frank Douglas has learned firsthand the impact that successful collaboration can have on turning around economic growth. But he says that just because organizations choose to collaborate, doesn’t mean that they know how to do it successfully.

While ABIA’s mission is simple — to deliver value-added, patient-centered innovation and commercialization — achieving its lofty goal to spin out 40 to 50 companies and create nearly 2,400 jobs in Akron in a 10-year period won’t be. Even with founding members that include prominent Akron institutions such as Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Health System, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Summa Health System, The University of Akron and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, enticing health-related ventures to the Akron area has required ABIA to build what Douglas calls a “collaborative ecosystem.”

“Namely we have a system that focuses on identifying patient problems, coming up with ideas to solve those problems, and testing those ideas for technical and commercial feasibility,” Douglas says.

What attracts businesses? For one, companies also want to work with organizations that can introduce them to a team of people working together.

“We talk about the strengths, but if the strengths are isolated in each of the institutions, it’s really not a benefit to a business,” Douglas says. “A business doesn’t want to have to hunt around to find expertise and capabilities.”

So the organization spent its first year putting together platforms and funding collaborative projects to bring together scientists and physicians to develop solutions for patient problems.

“A company can easily see how by coming to ABIA they could access experts, and multi-disciplinary experts, not an isolated expert deep in one discipline, but teams of experts that can address their issues,” Douglas says.

Because the problems in patient care are multi-disciplinary, it takes collaborative teams to solve them. So another key to the collaboration has been helping people in various organizations step out of their own paradigms so that they can recognize areas where working together is beneficial. “We have to accept that hospitals will still be competing with each other, but there are areas that are relatively easy to identify where they may not have critical mass, where working together would make them much more competitive or the tide would raise all boats,” Douglas says.

By leveraging the combined strengths in the Akron area to focus on biomaterial solutions for patients, from the nationally ranking polymer biomaterials at the University of Akron to the area’s leading medical institutions, hospitals and medical schools, there have been many opportunities to share resources, insights and expertise.

An example is in learning through simulation. In April, ABIA opened up a 40,000-square-foot facility, which will focus on educating the integrated health care team as well as early responders through team-based, patient-centered simulation programs. Now separate institutions can use the larger, shared simulation center for collaborative innovation.

“To have a large simulation center where they all could collaborate and that could potentially attract people from across Ohio and across the nation is a great opportunity,” Douglas says.

Recently, the prototype system that ABIA created with the University of Akron Research Foundation won the National i6 Innovation Challenge to receive a sizable grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Early this year, the organization also launched APTO Orthopaedics, the first medical device company created out of the Institute. So far, Douglas says the progress in Akron and on a national level has been fantastic and motivating.

“Those are just examples of the success this collaborative effort has had,” Douglas says.

“The way I look at it is are we being recognized outside of Akron and Northeast Ohio for the things we’re doing, because if we are, then we are likely to attract companies to come to Akron.”

How to reach: Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, (330) 572-7544 or www.abiakron.org

Sharing solutions

With Synergy Seminars, Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron brings together problem owners and solution providers every month to collaborate on a different key problem in biomedicine and healthcare.  Designated as an Ohio Center of Excellence for Biomedicine and Healthcare, the organization’s ability to bring in experts on these topics is helpful in solving problems faster and for better outcomes, says President and CEO Dr. Frank Douglas.

At the seminars, ABIA will typically have an expert speak for 30-minutes about a particular problem a patient has, giving the background, medicine and the science behind it. Afterward there is a 45-minute session with the audience, sometimes aided with a panel to discuss potential solutions.

“A company came to us with a problem saying that they had heard about the Synergy Seminar and asked if we could hold a closed synergy seminar for them,” Douglas says.

After ABIA hosted a two-and-a-half hour seminar for them, the company was thrilled with the solutions that came out of the collaborative problem-solving.

“They said, ‘We got two solutions that we probably would have gotten but it would have taken us about six months,’” Douglas says. “‘We would have visited different experts and hopefully we would have put it together, but here you have this multi-disciplinary group of scientists, surgeons and nurses and two and half hours later, there we were.’”

Published in Akron/Canton

Dr. Dominic Bagnoli Jr. has more customers in his waiting rooms than ever, and that’s the problem.

As health care costs rise and unemployment remains high, people nationwide are waiting longer to seek medical care when they think that they have a health issue. The result is that emergency departments staffed by companies like Emergency Medicine Physicians Ltd. are filled with patients.

“Not every patient needs to be in the emergency department,” says Bagnoli, the founder and CEO of the privately owned medicine group, which has hospital partners across the country. “So the question is, ‘How do we provide them a level of care where they get just as good of care but reduce the cost?’”

While there is no question that national spending on health care is not on a sustainable track, Bagnoli says that the healthcare industry has never been swift to embrace change.

“In medicine, we’re typically slow to change because we like to hide behind the art of medicine, hide behind this is the way that is has to be for patient care,” Bagnoli says. “But there are a lot of things that can change and a lot of things that need to change for the health care system to continue to evolve and improve.”

EMP has created a culture where employees and physicians don’t just buy into change, but are excited to lead the transformation. Here’s how Bagnoli inspires the company’s 1,200 employees to buy into EMP’s vision for more efficient health care.

Connect the dots

Bagnoli knows that having talented, passionate employees isn’t enough to drive change if they aren’t inspired by your company’s vision and mission. You need everyone in the organization working toward these common goals.

“It’s a team game,” Bagnoli says. “It’s like any successful team — if everyone is not on the same page, then you’re not going to win.”

That’s why he looks for ways to connect employees at all of levels of the organization to EMP’s vision for delivering patient care, not just the physicians who deal with patients every day.

“We’ve let everyone know that every person in our organization, from the person who answers the phones to the person that helps submit the bills to the person that answers the customer service calls, that what they do every day is not those little things,” Bagnoli says. “What they do is help physicians take care of patients.”

But how do you get someone in a corporate office to feel just as inspired as the person who helps care for a sick patient or helps solve a customer problem face-to-face? One way is to create a culture that feels small, even as you organization grows.

As one of the ten largest emergency medicine groups in the country, EMP has more than 1,200 employees and physician partners today, including 800 doctors and 400 non-physician associates. But Bagnoli says the company’s communication and employee education keeps everyone in the organization thinking about how they as individuals can impact the big-picture vision for improving patient care.

President Dr. David Packo says that the company is known for its high quality, so it lets employees and doctors know whenever the organization is being recognized to keep motivation high. Its award-winning online portal for physicians also gives doctors access to everything from personal productivity statistics and patient satisfaction scores to expense accounts and educational materials for their practice.

“We create opportunities for them to see news reports and data reports from all over the country so that they can review those and start thinking about how they can improve things as well,” Bagnoli says.

Another piece is employee development. In July, Bagnoli says the company has plans to open a new educational center in Canton that will accommodate 250 people for physician training and company meetings. It will also be equipped with the latest technology for streaming and teleconferencing.

By investing in employee growth and development, you show people that they are a valuable part of the vision. When people feel connected that way, they’ll want to take on bigger responsibilities and roles in your organization.

“Our employees like being part of a company that’s growing and learning and teaching and helping people,” Bagnoli says.

“They like the fact that they know that we see almost three million patients a year and what they’re doing here in the company office in Canton is helping a physician in Hawaii or Connecticut take care of a patient, and maybe, save a person’s life. That builds a culture and is a reason why people enjoy working here.”

Give people ownership

Unlike many of its large competitors, which are public companies, EMP is privately held by its physicians and splits its profits with them every month.

Before implementing the profit-sharing program several years ago, the company found that more employees tended to push off work to others, creating silos rather than engagement in the overall success of the organization and its vision.

“What we used to have prior to the institution of the program is employees looking out for their own,” Packo says. “When we would add business, they would look for us to add new employees because they didn’t want the work.”

When people have a financial stake in the success of their organization, they are more engaged in innovation and support changes that can make the company efficient and contribute to its vision for growth.

An example is the growth of the company’s Physician First program, which makes a physician the first point of contact for patients who register at an emergency department. When EMP launched the program at its partnering hospital in Parma, it quickly made a huge difference in improving patient outcomes and wait times. Getting the buy-in from this first group was enough to convince other physician owners who saw the positive results to try it.

“By capturing the minds of a few people who are willing to be early adopters and try a process and then spreading that process through results and publicizing those results, you get people to buy in on a large scale,” Bagnoli says.

As the company implements new programs or operational changes, connecting people to each other in ownership is also beneficial because it helps eliminate silos in operations. That’s because employees and doctors benefit from helping colleagues succeed and getting more involved.

“We ask them to do their jobs to the best of their ability, and when they do, they get rewarded for it,” Packo says.

“Now they want to take care of things themselves and do more so they can win more. So that was a huge piece of being able to grow and keeping expenses down yet growth up.”

As the company grows in size, Bagnoli says the profit sharing is even more important in motivating physicians to be leaders in the organization as the industry continues to evolve.

“We’ll be more successful than everybody else because our physicians will directly benefit from that change,” Bagnoli says.

“Passion can carry you when you’re a small organization. If you believe in what you’re doing and you can inspire other people to follow you, you can lead a small organization fairly easily. But you get to a point once you get to a certain size that if you don’t have good people around you that you trust that you allow to lead, you’re not going to make it.”

Make life easier

Bagnoli says that he’s always looking for opportunities for EMP to partner with health systems, technology companies and service companies in order to develop solutions that make providing quality patient care more efficient.

“We typically look to see if they can provide a better process for us or a better service for our patients,” Bagnoli says.

The company has been involved in two of these significant technology projects in the last three years. In both of these cases, Bagnoli says the company thought long and hard about the value for its employees and physicians who would be learning and using them.

“In general, if you give someone a piece of technology that doesn’t make their lives easier, it’s never going to get used,” Bagnoli says.

“Technology for technology’s sake isn’t always the answer. But we’ve been very careful to develop products that help people do their jobs.”

Often, employees will be worried that new technology or new processes will make their jobs more difficult with extra steps, operational disruptions or functionality issues. So if it will make their jobs easier, they’ll probably be happy to make the change if you show them why and how it will help.

“It’s people,” Packo says. “You realize a lot of companies and the ones that are successful are the ones that grow their people along and empower their people to do what they need to do. That’s been a big piece of what we do.”

Through its partnership with Stat Health Services Inc., the company recently took a huge step by developing a telemedicine program. The technology gives qualifying patients 24-7 access to certified physicians, so they can receive treatment for minor complaints and illnesses through the Internet. As an early investor in the iTriage, it’s also now incorporating technology that allows patients to use their smartphones to identify illnesses and get care information through mobile channels.

“Any way to deliver health care in a less expensive manner, but keeping the quality there is going to be a big win, whether it is by telemedicine or other venues,” Packo says.

The same goes for the new protocols such as Physician First.

“So we’ve created a new process that’s been successful and we’ve implemented it at over half of our hospitals across the country,” Bagnoli says. “It makes a huge difference in the patient experience, improves the quality of care and lowers the risk.”

Improving care delivery and the way that people interface with the health care system empowers the company’s employees and physician-owners to do their jobs better, so patients profit and the company profits. As a result, it remains one of the consistently growing companies in Northeast Ohio.

“We’ve improved the patient experience, we’ve lowered the cost of care, and we think that we’ve improved the outcomes as well,” Bagnoli says.

How to reach: Emergency Medicine Physicians Ltd., www.emp.com

Takeaways

1. Help people see their role in the vision.

2. Give employees a stake in growth.

3. Empower your team with new technologies.

The Bagnoli/Packo File

Dr. Dominic J. Bagnoli Jr., founder and COO

Dr. David Packo, president

Emergency Medicine Physicians Ltd.

Born:

Bagnoli  – Canton, Ohio

Packo Toledo, Ohio

Education:

Bagnoli – The Ohio State University and Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine

Packo University of Notre Dame undergraduate, The Ohio State University College of Medicine medical school

If you could have dinner with one person you’ve never met, who would it be and why?

Bagnoli Unfortunately, Steve Jobs has passed, so my second choice would be Bruce Springsteen because he’s the Boss.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Bagnoli – Leading a growing, dynamic business that helps people. Now as CEO, I come in and I don’t exactly know what I’m going to do each day, but I know that there is going to be 50 or 60 problems that I get involved in or projects, and at the end of the day I feel like I’ve contributed and helped the organization grow. Also it goes back to helping the physicians that are out there taking care of patients and making it easier for them to do so.”

Packo – Helping partners to better work life.

What would your friends be surprised to find out about you?

Packo – I boxed in college with some tae kwon do and wanted to cage fight but never did. I still would be interested in MMA (mixed martial arts) if I were younger or if it was around when I was younger.

What would you being doing if you weren’t in health care?

Bagnoli - I’m a college football freak. So if I could do any job I would love to be on college game day televising games on Saturdays and going to the best college football games in the country every weekend. If (ESPN analyst) Kirk Herbstreit ever retires, I want the job.

Published in Akron/Canton

Jay Honsaker was very proud when his custom injection molding company met ISO 9000 standards for quality — and that the ISO auditor called Design Molded Plastics a benchmark company.

“If our people weren’t performing, we wouldn’t receive praise like that from our auditor and from our customers — it just wouldn’t happen,” says Honsaker, president and co-owner.

But the picture is even brighter. In 2011, the company had its best sales year in its 27-year history, tallying more than $20 million.

“We are 99.98 percent for on-time delivery, which in a lot of cases is unheard of,” he says. “From a quality standpoint, we’re at 5.8 Sigma overall, which is phenomenal. That comes from a lot of dedication, and that is a culture.”

Smart Business spoke with Honsaker on how building a culture of excellence is the key to such outstanding results.

Q: It sounds like you have groomed some great employees there. How was that achieved?

A: You mentioned a keyword — employees. It’s all about the employees. We’ve got four walls here and equipment inside, which is a great thing, but your employees will make you or break you. When we hire, we have stringent requirements, and we realize right away if an individual is going to maintain our culture when they start with us.

Most of our people are not here to play. We are here to work hard for our customers. We don’t carry a coffee cup in one hand and a cigarette in the other. We pay for two eyes and two hands and that’s what we expect. It really comes down to the individuals … You could tell somebody until you are blue in the face how you are and what your expectations are, but until they live it, they don’t realize how serious you are.

Once they come on board, they realize during the first week that we are pretty serious about what we proclaimed in our interview process. Then they make a decision: Do they want to live within the constraints of the organization or don’t they?

But if they feel that there is no way they could adapt to our method of doing business, then typically they exit the company. I don’t think we have to terminate; I think they realize that it’s just not a good fit for them.

Q. What advice would you give to engage employees and create a culture of excellence?

A: First off, you’ve got to have that discipline inside. If you don’t personally have it, then it’s not going to work. You actually have to demonstrate how you are and how you want things to be, and that comes from inside. You have to be driven from within to do your absolute best. If you can’t demonstrate that, then you’re not going to have followers believing in you.

Q. What are other key steps to a company culture of excellence?

A: It’s a very high level of commitment. One of the biggest challenges is to hire people that you could trust, that you could count on, that share your commitment because ultimately, who pays the bills? Your customer does. So without customers you have nothing. You could have a beautiful facility, beautiful equipment, great people, but if you’re not satisfying your customer, they’re not going to be there and you’re not going to have an income to make payroll.

So it really comes down to the fact that they have to share the commitment to the customer. That has huge value, because face it, as a president of the company I don’t hear every phone call. I don’t see every e-mail. I don’t feel customers’ responses when they are talking to one of our managers. Or even customer service, that has great value so those people have to fully appreciate the fact that your customers are paying the bills. They are the leader. They tell you what they want when they want it, and your level of discipline has to be to meet their expectations. If you don’t have that, then it can’t be trained.

How to reach: Design Molded Plastics, (330) 963-4400 or www.designmolded.com

Published in Akron/Canton

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of going shopping with my kids. Since my parents and siblings live out of town, they sent checks to the kids and wanted me to have them buy whatever they wanted for their holiday gifts.

I tried to make the experience fun, exciting and, yes, a learning experience. The rules were pretty simple. OK, they were simple for me — perhaps not so simple for three kids under 11 who want to do nothing but spend money and buy themselves some gifts.

The rules were:

  • Each child gets to pick two stores he/she wants to shop in.
  • Share with me the items you think you want to buy.
  • Don’t spend more than $100.

See, I told you the rules were easy. As we started shopping, my oldest son bought a few items at Best Buy, and then spent a little more at Academy Sports and Walmart. Our next stop was Target, which was the store all of them wanted to shop in. As each gift went in the basket, I added up in my head what each child had spent. Then my daughter jumped into the shopping cart and started to play Barbie Dolls before we had paid for everything. I had this feeling that she might be over her allowance and was bracing myself for a challenging time at the register.

Stand firm

As luck would have it, she went over by $4.88. My first thought was, oh no — now what do I do? Give in or hold my position? Decision time needed to be quick and firm. My answer was, “Baby, you went over by a few dollars, so which of the gifts would you like to not include in your purchase?”

As I was bracing for a meltdown and for her to start throwing things at me, my oldest son said, “Dad, I have a few extra dollars left out of my money and would be happy to share it with my sister so she doesn’t have to return anything!” Wow! I didn’t expect that response. My daughter lit up like a Christmas tree, and I couldn’t have been more proud of my son.

Share year-round

My kids were sharing at the holidays! What a great message. Isn’t business about that? Sharing 24/7/365?

  • If you have a great idea, share it with your boss.
  • If you’ve found a new way to do something and save time, share it with your colleagues.
  • If you’ve had success negotiating a deal with a partner, share it with your business development team.
  • If you didn’t win a project but your prospect gave you some incredible feedback, share it with other salespeople.
  • If your last proposal included some cutting-edge technology, share it.
  • If your profit margin on your largest account is amazing, share it.

I could go on and on with this list. The bottom line is that sharing might be the most important thing a company and its staff can do day in and day out.

Adopt healthy habits

I would suggest that most successful companies have staff that share all the time, and companies that don’t share a lot wind up suffering as a result. When I asked a few industry contacts about sharing, a number of them said it isn’t something that happens too often within their company.

So I ask you:

  • Does your company have an environment that shares?
  • Do you highlight when people share with other team members?
  • Do you reward people who share?
  • Do you feel your company is much better off when everyone is sharing successes and failures?

If you don’t, maybe you should take a look at how you could incorporate that into your 2012 strategy.

Merrill Dubrow is president and CEO of M/A/R/C Research, located in Dallas. The company is one of the top 25 market research companies in the U.S. Dubrow is a sought-after speaker and has been writing a blog for more than four years. He can be reached at merrill.dubrow@marcresearch.com or (972) 983-0416.

Published in Dallas

Back in 2003, the telecommunications industry was going through what Timothy Jenks describes as a “downturn and compression,” as large equipment manufacturing companies — his customers — increasingly consolidated and reduced their vendor base to manage costs. The result was that many companies in the telecommunications components industry, which NeoPhotonics Corp. occupied, were being put out of business.

“As a small technology company, clinically a start-up, it was difficult to gain mind share let alone market share at these very large companies as they consolidated their own operations,” says Jenks, the chairman, president and CEO of the San Jose, Calif.-based optical components supplier with approximately 3,000 global employees.

Jenks saw that the company needed to enhance its core value proposition in a way that would resonate with this core customer group and help it win its business. After spending a year looking at M&A opportunities, he and his management team soon found their solution in Photon Technology Co. Limited, China's largest supplier of active optical components at the time.

“It was complementary technology to our core technology and with an established customer base,” Jenks says. “We had both cash and technology and they had certain products, customer base and manufacturing capability. So together we felt that we would have all of the requisite elements to be an important supplier going forward in the industry.”

By acquiring Photon in 2005, the company now had the opportunity to become a global, one-stop shop for optical components, a value proposition that would click with the needs of its customers. But Jenks now had the task of taking the two companies with different languages and different cultures on different continents and creating one new entity consisting of 1,200 employees and more than 100 customers around the world.

Promote understanding

Before they could align everyone directionally and operationally, Jenks and his leadership knew that they needed to spend time with the employees in China to initiate a comfort level of understanding between both teams.

“In order to do that with very strong differences in language, culture and location, it took an awful lot of personal time and attention to develop mutual understanding,” Jenks says. “With mutual understanding, we could get alignment. With alignment, we could execute on the goals. With the goals being clear, we could make good progress.”

While Jenks had a number of people on his team and several from China who were bilingual, there were still communication differences and cultural differences that needed to be addressed in the new company.

“You need to be compassionate, taking the time and effort to understand our global brethren and what are issues from their point of view?” Jenks says. “Everyone is not the same but everyone is important.”

In-person communication in the preliminary stages of the merger was helpful for both leaders, who needed to establish a plan for integration. For about a year and half, Jenks travelled to China for one week or more every month to meet with direct reports and develop an approach of how to provide a clear direction to the key managers in the combined company.

“The face to face matters not just because it’s face to face, but because it allows people on both sides of the table to jointly see momentum,” he says. “If they see you once a month or once occasionally, there just isn’t much momentum.”

The benefit of being face to face with employees who are being acquired is also being able to see the realities of how people operate and manage the ins and outs of daily business. Jenks says that in retrospect he would have moved to China during this time, now that he’s seen the value of this personal time.

“Living in each other’s shoes by being together causes you to understand the issues that you’re facing not on too high of a level but much more day to day, hour to hour, the real issues that we’re facing and how can we jointly solve them,” Jenks says. “My experience is when people have the opportunity to face challenges together and find solutions together, that is what defines successful integration.”

Build alignment on new goals

This first phase isn’t about getting everyone to agree, but cultivating a comfort level and understanding between your two companies so you make decisions easier.

“We spent a lot of time and effort to understand each other, but we didn’t make it the biggest priority to gain consensus on decisions,” Jenks says. “It was to gain consensus on understanding, not consensus in decisions. Decisions had to get made and we had to move forward.”

The next step was getting the two companies to act as one global company, with one set of goals, one vision and one mission moving forward. Getting this alignment involved eliminating all of the previous goals from the individual businesses and creating one set of goals for everyone.

“The company in China wanted to operate on the global stage and the company in the U.S. wanted to be successful and deploy its technology globally,” Jenks says. “So putting those two nuanced sets of personal goals into one set of company goals was a challenge.”

After a merger, there may be a tendency for employees from either company to hold on to the old way of doing things. Where problems arise is when people become so attached to their previous goals that they don’t focus their efforts on new business growth.

“We had a company in the U.S. that was used having objectives that were local objectives, and we had a company in China that was used to having objectives that were Chinese objectives,” Jenks says.

So part of the strategy to get buy-in was to do away with any past performance goals that distracted people from the new global strategy. All financial incentives for employees in the future would be tied to global instead of local performance.

“It was to eliminate and remove all of those objectives and any references to them and replace them with goals so that people in China have to help the global result,” Jenks says. “People in the U.S. had to help the global result. Then even though they understood it, if they weren’t willing to embrace it, there wasn’t a role for them.”

Jenks and his team collaborated with the leadership in China to develop the new set of objectives.

“We actually spent a lot of personal time to write goals to be one company, not to be two companies, and to express with our managers our values that we would embrace and how we would operate,” Jenks says. “That included people from East and West in the senior most management to share ideas, share understanding, share goals and execution plans.”

Getting input from both teams is important, because it helps everyone embrace the new goals as their own, adding to the synergies in the combined company. Once your topmost leadership is aligned on the new corporate goals, you can proceed to build alignment throughout the organization.

“The key thing is that we did express a group of values to be one company and to focus on those global goals, which implicitly meant that staying on the fence was not an option,” Jenks says.

Again, talking with your people face to face to share the new strategies and goals is critical in getting everyone on the same page.

“It causes integration to happen faster, and people find energy in integration success that allows you to move to the next chapter together instead of moving to the next chapter staying individually who you used to be,” Jenks says.

Get the right people on board

Jenks knew that inevitably there were people in the U.S. operation that didn’t want to spend time working on business in China as well as people in China who preferred working for a Chinese company. There were some people who had the skills to succeed in the new environment but weren’t interested in the new direction.

“It was difficult for some people who are not necessarily comfortable living in a language that they don’t speak,” Jenks says. “Moreover, it may be uncomfortable for people who are linguistically gifted but then may have a larger burden because of their abilities.”

During a merger, you have to accept that there are people who will embrace the change and people who won’t. To an extent, the employees who won’t will self select.

“Ultimately, strong performers and people that were good at execution were strongly encouraged to come over to the one-company side of the fence,” Jenks says. “If they were unwilling to do that, they left. That was perfectly OK. If these are not the objectives that you want to work on then there’s no reason why you should work on them, but then you shouldn’t work here.”

In the course of this kind of transformation process there will likely be turnover. As long as you are very clear about the new goals and direction, then you can be fairly confident that people who aren’t excited about it probably don’t have a role in your new company anyway.

“We had to look beyond the level of turnover and say we’re operating to a larger goal and the goal was to be successful and competitive on a global basis,” Jenks says. “That was embraced by a large majority of the employees in both locations. So having that dedicated and engaged group of employees was a really important part.”

To further engage and motivate people, make it clear that with the new vision comes new opportunities for those who are willing to put in the work. That could be everything from more career opportunities, travel opportunities or selling opportunities. Jenks made sure that the Chinese company recognized it now had access to the U.S. R&D and technology and let U.S. employees know that they could enjoy larger manufacturing and a better cost structure. He also knew the added capabilities of the combined company would particularly appeal to sales people as they sought out new business.

“Sales people are always interested in a higher, broader, deeper value proposition to offer to their customers,” Jenks says. “So there was a natural affinity in terms of our customer facing efforts, meaning sales people, whether they were from East or West, suddenly had a broader group of products because they had the merger partner’s products. They had a better roadmap of what they might be able to offer in the future and they had a bigger story to promote with a customer.”

The employees who embrace change are the ones who will do what it takes to make it successful. “I think it’s been a great experience for all of the people who have stayed with the company over the last five or six years,” Jenks says.

Since the merger, the company has grown from approximately $35 million to $181 million in revenue for 2010. In 2011, it completed another acquisition to purchase San Francisco-based Santur Corp., a privately-held components manufacturer with approximately 150 employees.

“So the principles used back in 2005 and in some subsequent deals are being applied again to develop as one company moving forward and to work jointly on what our goals and objectives are,” Jenks says.

How to reach: NeoPhotonics Corp., (408) 232-9200 www.neophotonics.com

Takeaways

1. Gain understanding by getting face to face.

2. Build alignment around shared goals.

3. Encourage people to buy in or opt out.

The Jenks File

Timothy Jenks

Chairman, president and CEO

NeoPhotonics Corp.

Born: Boston

Education: U.S. Naval Academy, B.S., Mechanical Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, S.M. Nuclear Engineering

Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., MBA

What is one part of your daily routine that you wouldn’t change?

A quiet morning moment for a cup of coffee alone with my wife

What do you to regroup on a tough day?

I like to have a brisk walk with my dog, but unfortunately most tough days don’t offer the opportunity to regroup. That’s why they are tough.

What do you like most about your job?

I like the global aspect of it. I have friends, colleagues, customers and suppliers all over the world and it really makes me feel like I live in a 21st century existence. My friends and family sometimes are astounded by the regularity in which I find myself dealing with other parts of the world, and it’s a fun thing. At the same time, realizing that what we do really makes a difference. The vast majority of the world does not yet have access to online content. There’s a lot left to do.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

Hire people you’d be willing to work for, because you may. If you’re picky who you work for and you only hire people that you’d be willing to work for, then you end up with good people.

And, build a business with good people. Good people tend to hire good people.

M&A tips for the next time around: One of the lessons that I learned is that if you’re going to spend an effort to try and merge two companies and you’re in a leadership role, the best thing you can do is move there. For example, doing a transaction with (San Francisco-based) Santur, the first thing that I did is I did take an office there.

Published in Northern California

Before you read this today, you read your e-mail. You’re always reading your e-mail. E-mail is Facebook for grownups: America’s current favorite distraction from work — corporate America’s No. 1 de-focuser.

I have teenagers. If you have teenagers, then you too have heard someone explain why it is important to have a Facebook page open while doing homework. The rationale is that some of the other kids have the same class and they are talking about the assignment.  But we all know that even if the chemistry homework got mentioned, the kid isn’t using Facebook as some sort of electronically enabled chemistry symposium. Facebook is distracting more kids from doing their homework than it is facilitating it.

The same thing is true about your e-mail and your work. E-mail can facilitate the exchange of information and documents — no doubt about it. But it isn’t without its costs when you continually check and re-check it. E-mail has become our informational slot machine. Each time you pull the lever — that is each time you check the inbox — you might find something rewarding there. But nine times of out 10 it’s just junk or very low priority information, for example, the date next month that they're testing your building’s fire alarm system. Yet even with the rewards to checking e-mail so terribly low, we continue to distract ourselves with it.

The key to success in baseball is to avoid outs. As long as your team makes less than three outs, you remain at bat and in the position to scores runs. If you make no outs forever, you can score runs forever. That would make for a very long game, but still one that you would certainly win.

The key to success in good thinking is to avoid changing subjects. In other words, if you can stay focused on one idea or problem until it is fully developed or solved, you’ll find many more insights and produce much higher quality work than if you switch your attention to and from the main idea or problem. How many times have you found yourself, in mid-conversation, asking aloud, “What was it I was saying?” or confessing, “I just lost my train of thought.” Keeping our minds focused on a single point is so precarious we can lose the point even while we are talking about it.

No meaningful accomplishment I know of was completed in the first pass. Great writing always involves many rewrites. Great marketing ideas evolve through iterations. Important laws are drafted and re-drafted countless times before achieving a final form.  All thinking activities require that someone hold a problem or idea in mind and work with it for an extended time.

Scientists are acknowledged to be some of our best thinkers. The world is full of interesting scientific problems and curiosities, however, most scientists cannot think in a serious way about more than one or two areas at a time. That is why a scientist will sometimes shoo away a colleague that proposes an interesting new problem.

Again, the idea is that you cannot allow yourself to divide your attention among multiple areas if you hope to make a meaningful contribution in any one of them. Our minds don’t perform any differently when working on business or organizational issues. With work, family, and personal issues clamoring for our attention, the odds of focusing are already stacked against us. We are awash in the noise of all the people and projects that want our attention. Into that mix come the enticements of advertisers and other pitches designed to catch our attention. Then comes e-mail and its constant promise to relieve us from the hard and productive work of focused thinking.

Increased focus leads to better work productivity and in the longer run, to better career opportunities and better jobs. Focus begins with and depends upon the elimination of distraction.

If you want a raise, turn off your e-mail.

Jerry McLaughlin is CEO of Branders.com, the world’s largest and lowest-priced online promotional products company. Reach him at JerryMcLaughlin@branders.com.

Published in Northern California

As the economy took a hit over the last few years, Fred Stock saw the demand for his organization’s services grow dramatically. That’s because the result of a down economy is more and more people seeking out more of the services that Jewish Community Services of South Florida has been providing for years. But keeping up with the higher demand has not been easy, especially when coupled with the funding challenges of operating as a not-for-profit entity.

“There’s an increased need corresponding with a reduction of available dollars,” says Stock, the president and CEO of the Miami-based social services agency, which services the Dade County community.

As fundraising in the overall community has dropped, so has the amount of funding dollars coming into the organization.

“So we need to figure out ways to cover the overhead for the agency,” Stock says. “One of the ways is that you reduce those costs by being more efficient.”

Stock says that this is a challenge many more not-for-profit organizations are dealing with today.

One way he says these agencies can manage costs is by providing a mix of free and paid services. By expanding in areas that have a “fee for service,” such as home care, the organization is able to cover costs of the services that it provides for free.

“We’re trying to expand our capabilities to provide services that can reimburse us for our costs, and we can generate some surpluses to pay for the programs that people don’t have the ability to pay for,” Stock says.

However, the crux of the agency’s strategy to become more efficient involves developing partnerships with organizations that share its service goals and funding model.

“We have definitely taken on the belief that in order to be successful, we need to partner,” Stock says.

“By combining, we can serve more people, create operational efficiencies, expand our reach, and it will allow us over the long haul to create more opportunity to serve people.”

While many smaller not-for-profit agencies are quality organizations, they are often limited in what they can do because they don’t have the infrastructure or funding sources to expand and grow. Leading a larger agency, Stock is now working harder to partner with smaller entities so both parties make progress on shared goals. An example is how the agency is partnering with assisted living facilities and HUD 202 housing projects where there are large constituencies of people who need its services.

Stock says you want try to align yourself with agencies and programs that relate to where you can provide services but also with agencies that have a similar mission.

“You maximize their capabilities and their expertise,” Stock says. “You bring that expertise now into this affiliated entity … and then you can expand your service capability because potentially that service can be located in a community that you’re not serving.”

The other advantage of partnering is the potential to combine operations or share resources where appropriate, which can increase efficiencies for both parties. So if two entities are doing billing with a number of grants, there is an opportunity to combine that billing for cost savings.

Stock says constantly monitoring and improving efficiency is something that not-for-profits and businesses should be doing whether or not there are funding issues. By partnering up, the agency continues to find strategic ways to carry out its mission and deliver its services more efficiently.

“We’re a $15 million agency,” Stock says. “We can bring some of that infrastructure — the funding, the marketing, to that new agency and enhance that agency’s effort to create revenue. And then you can create revenue for a larger organization and you have a whole lot more clout, because you have a whole lot more reach. You’re serving more people. In that process, you can find savings within that entity that you can then put back into your programs to yet provide more services.”

Start inside

Many not-for-profit entities have faced funding challenges as a result of the economic recession. Jewish Community Services of South Florida, which provides its services at no cost, is funded primarily through grants and fundraising. But that funding is limited and most of the agency’s funding sources do not provide enough money for its administrative component. To maintain services as money becomes scarcer, president and CEO Fred Stock has led a number of initiatives to be more efficient in this area.

“We’ve had to become much more efficient in the way we provide services and in the way we fund our administrative component,” Stock says. “In an agency, you have direct services and then you have the infrastructure that you need in order to run these services, things like billing, rent, offices and all of that, which are fixed expenses to some degree.”

To increase efficiency in the administrative component, the agency has consolidated some of its offices and begun looking at ways to utilize space better. It’s also started to streamline processes in internal operations such as billing, maintenance and systems.

“We’ve been able to save a substantial amount of money in these areas that has allowed us to continue to provide services at the same rate,” Stock says. “So even through we’ve suffered from reductions in funding, we’ve been able to still maintain the levels of service that we’ve provided over the last few years.”

How to reach: Jewish Community Services of South Florida, (305) 576-6550 or www.jcsfl.org

Published in Florida

When Ken Kemerer looks at the 80 percent revenue growth SilMix Ohio has achieved since 2001 when it was purchased by Wacker Chemical Corp., he gives a lot of credit to getting involved in industry associations.

Not that it was the only factor ? a rebranding effort three years ago was also part of the mix ? but being an active member of industry groups was a must.

“That’s where the networking is huge,” says Kemerer, director of SilMix Ohio, a manufacturer of custom silicone compounds. “We have added 50 customers since 2009, and we truly believe this branding and networking has resulted in the new customers.”

To get going with industry group networking, you need to research the organizations through universities, libraries or the Internet.

“In the rubber industry for instance, the American Chemical Society is an umbrella group that has a rubber division and a subset for regional and local groups,” Kemerer says. “You want to support financially and technically through manpower and participation all those groups. We support basically all those groups in North America now.”

In terms of support, it means more than paying membership fees.

“You can sponsor their websites, sponsor their fundraising, their golf outings and donate to their scholarship funds,” he says. “The regional groups have technical meetings. You can give technical presentations at their meetings. The technical service is important because other companies may not have an expert on site and you can provide that technical side of the industry.”

The fact that you are at a regional conference giving a presentation and answering questions about your specialty goes far in establishing your brand.

“It’s all about the networking in getting the name out, so that if people are not familiar with your specialty, and they have questions, yours will be the first name they think of,” Kemerer says.

One thing that obviously helps the initiative is encouragement from company ownership.

“Our owner is a corporate citizen, which means we have a responsibility to the industry,” he says.

This attitude should underlie your involvement in the industry groups ? you are not just giving a presentation as a sales pitch for your company.

“The industry groups had been the only place to get knowledge unless you hired somebody who had been trained by somebody else,” Kemerer says. “As the Internet has come along, and online training, they have changed, so the industry groups are really providing networking opportunities on a high level. It’s almost more of an awareness than technical training. These opportunities are out there.”

With your interaction in the industry groups, you are advancing your knowledge throughout the sector.

“There are not that many technical experts out there if you are in a niche,” he says. “Yes, it’s self-serving when you present, you may get your name known as somebody who has the answers, but it is not just about that. It’s also about corporate citizenship.

“There are many opportunities to present new and innovative things if you can in particular areas such as the medical field. That’s on the cutting edge as is helping customers in the industry become aware of new ways to do things or new developments.”

One other fact to keep in mind while attending or presenting at a conference is that your competition may be present, and while it is wise to guard what may be trade secrets, with care, you can still deliver an effective presentation. Don’t use it as a soapbox to show your differentiation.

“We do see competitors, but we see them more on a regional level,” Kemerer says. “We all have the same general purpose products. Some competitors may also be your customers ? so you want to keep good relationships, a good working knowledge and make sure you don’t cross any of them.”

How to reach: SilMix Ohio, a division of Wacker Chemical Corp., (330) 628-5017 or www.wacker.com/silmix

Formula for rebranding

If your company can’t decide where your rebranding should start, do what Ken Kemerer did at SilMix Ohio: look to your “Pillars of Success.”

“We identified our ‘Pillars of Success,’ that’s what we call them ? our customer service, our technical service and our flexibility, and we made them our focus,” says, Kemerer, director of the custom silicone compound manufacturer.

With that simplified mission statement, it gives you a basis to build a branding and marketing effort that will represent your company well.

“We built three different advertising ? let's say modules ? based on those,” he says.

“Identify your pillars of success, and then customize your advertising both visually and verbally along those lines so you can publish it in different media ? magazine, newsletter and website. Have a variety of pictures, so they don't get stale. Use text that describes each pillar of success.”

Then to help support the industry groups, use the same collateral to expand your brand to that outlet as well.

“It worked out real well for us for the past three years, and now it is a good time to have a new angle and still build off the same things ?­ and more as video opens new opportunities,” Kemerer says.

Published in Akron/Canton

Before Zalmi Duchman founded The Fresh Diet in 2006, he’d been on the other side of the employee accountability problem.

“I was the guy taking the extra lunch and taking the extra break and kind of slacking off where I could as a worker,” says Duchman, the founder and CEO of the Miami-based fresh food delivery company with 160 employees and approximately $18 million in revenue.

That’s why in running his own company, Duchman understands the importance of creating a culture that motivates people but still keeps them accountable for progress.

“By realizing that I’m too laid back, I’ve been trying to find that middle ground,” he says. “I don’t want to be this strict company and not a fun company, but I don’t want to be this company that’s not getting anything done because everybody is partying all the time.”

Smart Business spoke with Duchman about how to create this middle ground by improving communication.

Have an open-door policy.

As long as the managers or myself or the other executives are sitting at their desks or they’re online or they’re on their BlackBerry, and they are in real time responding to issues and not pushing it off 24 hours and 48 hours, that will go a long way in making sure there is communication, because you’ll nip it in the bud right away. If you see there is an issue, you can narrow it down to how did this issue happen and who didn’t communicate. And sometimes it’s not a communication issue, but a lot of times, it is.

I don’t come into work in a suit and a tie every day, but I make sure that I’m here. I make sure that there’s an open-door policy. I make sure that everybody knows that even if your title is customer service, at the end of the day if you have a food request or if you have a suggestion in marketing, everybody wears ten hats. Because the guys upstairs and the executives, we don’t just stick to what we do and we all put our hands into everything else, I think that that’s created a culture where people know that if they have an idea they’re not going to be shunned. They’re not going to be told to shut up. It’s very, very open and everybody feels like the business is theirs and they feel like it is one big family. They feel that if they think there is a problem they won’t be scared to say it.

Get involved.

There’s no question that being more involved in day-to-day projects and having a better handle on it and making sure that everybody’s communicating every day has turned into growth, dollars and cents. If you’re on top of the situation, then people can’t really slack off as much. They have more of a drive if they know that the CEO is going to get down to the nitty-gritty instead of asking once or twice a month about projects. It’s also establishing weekly meetings and establishing better lines of communication. It’s definitely helped the projects move faster and the overall quality of the team is better.

I want to have that culture of it’s not based on how long you sit at your desk but what you accomplish. But at the end of the day, you have to have a median. Just managing projects better, keeping a tighter ship by using software online like Basecamp or project management software, that allows me to see that the communication that’s being given is actually being followed. So making sure that I have my hand in more of what’s going on has helped make the workplace smaller in a way.

Be proactive on issues.

When there are very few problems, it means that the communication is flowing and it means that people are talking to each other. If there is a problem, it’s almost always going to come from communication, because this person didn’t tell the correct person or this person thought that they could do this themselves and didn’t bring it to someone else. So I feel that monitoring on real-time basis, especially in a business like ours with so many moving parts — if you’re monitoring the issues of the day, you’ll know right away if there are communication issues.

Usually what would happen is that a company would be in a bad place and then they would realize that, oh my God, we’re in a bad place and it probably happened because no one is communicating and it got out of control. I would tell them to stay positive … and deal with it. Don’t continue to put it off. Establish weekly meetings. It’s a lot easier to talk about it than to implement it, but I feel like you ‘fake it till’ you make it.’ So even if you’re in that bad place, just make a decision that this is going to change and it’s going to change today.

How to reach: The Fresh Diet, www.thefreshdiet.com or (866) 373-7450

Published in Florida

As the new president of Burger King Corp.’s North American business, Steve Wiborg was charged with leading a brand suffering from declining sales and a limited menu. Under siege from a market flooding with fast food hamburger competition, it was struggling to keep its foothold in its narrow niche of 18- to 34-year-old male burger consumers.

Yet at the same time, the company was initiating a four-pillar strategy to enhance its menu, overhaul the restaurant image, streamline operations and improve marketing communications, even phasing out the company’s Burger King mascot. Wiborg had the opportunity to apply his 20 years of experience in the Burger King system to help the No. 2 hamburger chain start fresh and expand its appeal.

“When we’re looking at a larger consumer base, we’re really expanding our target to Quick Service Restaurants,” says Wiborg, who became the president of North America and executive vice president of Burger King Corp. in October 2010.

“Any of these changes has to do with focusing on 100 percent flawless execution. That’s really what everything is focused on right now in order to make everything we do or any of those four pillars come to life.”

Today, Wiborg is leading the roll out of these initiatives across 7,200 restaurants. Here’s how he drives execution to help is team deliver results and grow Burger King as a quick-service authority.

Engage your team

To make the brand more competitive, improvements in the new strategy called for the company to add new products, such as salads, desserts and breakfast items, as well as improve upon some existing products, such as a new french fry recipe. Wiborg was also responsible for implementing the company’s new “20/20” design at all of its North American locations, which would create a more attractive and brighter environment for guests. Coming in, he and his leadership team examined research to see where the brand stood in terms of cleanliness, speed of service, food quality and operations.

“That’s always going to be a challenge as we look to innovate off of different platforms and make sure we’re looking at our opportunities from competition,” he says.

But to make the sweeping changes the brand had in mind, Wiborg knew he needed to go outside of corporate to involve people in the process, especially because 90 percent of the company’s restaurants are owned by franchisees.

“It’s really our restaurants and employees that make the change in the end,” he says.

In the past year, Wiborg has added numerous programs and initiatives designed to increase collaboration between franchises and the corporate office. By inviting more employee and franchisee participation, it’s been easier to get people on the same page with consistency and alignment on goals.

“It’s a big system … and getting them all to agree is never going to happen,” Wiborg says. “You get a majority of them to agree, and as long as the other group understands where you are going and what their part of it is, then you’re going to have the best success.”

Because menu innovation was a change that would affect many franchisees, who would end up implementing it at their restaurants, Wiborg selected a handful of franchisees that had been in the system a long time and brought them to the company’s headquarters in Miami. Along with the brand’s vendors and suppliers, they spent three months working with R&D to update the menu to appeal for a broader audience.

“We had to take a look at every single item on our menu and make changes,” he says.

Recent menu additions include everything from funnel cake sticks to a Chef’s Choice burger and a variety of breakfast menu items.

Wiborg says that collaboration with franchises, combined with the initial research the company did in 2010, revealed the areas of the company’s menu and marketing strategy that had strong appeal — flame grilling and the Whopper, for example. But it also helped clarify areas for improvement and opportunities to reach more consumers, such as adding a dessert platform with soft serve ice cream.

Again, many changes in product often come back to execution. For instance, the decision to start cutting lettuce and onions in restaurant creates higher quality sandwiches but also requires more labor.

“There are a lot of things that go into the menu innovation process and how we roll that out,” Wiborg says. “Engagement of our franchisees has helped every step of the way.”

One way the company has improved employee engagement is by making sure everyone works together to set priorities rather than having the corporate office in Miami hand them down. Wiborg says that engaging your team is vitally important.

“I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the engagement that you get from your employees when you make them part of the process and not just the execution part of the process,” he says.

To increase collaboration between corporate and the restaurants, the company created a marketing council, a restaurant council, a people council and a diversity council, each made up of approximately 13 franchisees and corporate members.

While Wiborg thought he’d initially have to twist some arms to get people involved, it was actually the opposite. It was just a matter of ensuring the councils were formed to represent a diversity of opinions. So to get a well-blended group, the company’s directors picked half of the council members and let the National Franchise Association, which a majority of the system belongs to, choose the other half.

“The great thing is there is a wide range of thinking on these councils,” Wiborg says. “It’s not everyone thinks the same and we all move cohesively. But if we can come to agreement in these councils of how to move the brand forward, I know we can move the system forward.”

For example, when the people council recognized a new way to improve communication at restaurants through virtual learning, the company introduced the initiative in 2011.

“It has been a great way to actually get things done within the system because it’s not just me of Burger King in Miami saying that this is the way we should do things,” Wiborg says. “It’s a group of 13 franchisees plus Burger King that all across the United States and Canada are coming up with the ways to move forward.”

Provide support

To build a better and stronger brand, Wiborg also knew that the company needed to narrow the range of excellence. So another challenge of execution was getting franchisees and employees operating in one consistent way across the system.

“We have all levels of excellence,” Wiborg says. “You may go to one Burger King and it’s your favorite Burger King, and then you go to another one and it’s less consistent. So it’s really about consistency.”

Wiborg says that for any brand that has national or global locations, improving brand consistency is often the result of how much support people have out in the field.

“So when you’re talking restaurant image and you know that that’s a very capital-intense decision, in order to move in the right direction, it was about coming up with programs that enable people to do that type of stuff,” he says. “It’s one thing to say we want to do 1,000 reimages in here in 2012. It’s another thing to be able to get there. So just because people know what I’m doing and I’ve been in Burger King a long time, you have to create ways for people to execute.”

That is true for each one of the four pillars the company is implementing. So to help franchisees and employees execute the numerous changes, the company launched a field optimization restructuring program in September to double its number of sales and operations coaches nationwide.

“When you look at operations, it’s one thing to say, ‘We want to have cleaner restaurants serving the best food with the best people and the fastest service,’” Wiborg says. “It’s another thing saying, ‘I’m going to double the field staff for Burger King.’”

Instead of having 80 field people working on operations, the company now has 160 people helping franchisees identify strategies to improve their businesses and offering field support.

“If I’m serious about being the best restaurant and operations company, I think I need to back that up by putting more people in the field working on becoming the cleanest restaurants, the fastest service, the best quality service, and that’s what we’ve done over the last six months here,” Wiborg says.

This added support has helped people stay focused on execution across the board so that no one area or location suffers. If one restaurant needs more help, the company has available resources to accommodate people.

“We have more touches now and we have more people in order to get that more consistent brand up there,” Wiborg says.

Be part of the process

Even through Wiborg felt employees trusted his leadership in implementing changes because of his history with the organization, he also knew getting them to buy in wholeheartedly would take personal investment.

“You have to be part of the process and lead throughout that process in order to be a good leader,” he says. “It’s one thing to say you want the process, it’s another thing to be part of the process.”

To help restaurants embrace the new menus, store images, marketing and operational improvements, Wiborg has been actively involved in discussions and implementations with restaurants. When they began to do the reimaging, Wiborg went out and visited franchisees in a 13-city tour. In the meetings, he worked with franchisees to take them through the new programs and help them understand the timelines, details and execution process.

The company did the same thing with the menu platform rollout. Wiborg often invites groups of franchisees from the NFA or larger franchisees in before rolling out new programs to get their feedback and figure out what support they need to be successful.

“I roll them out for them first and they help kind of shape things a little bit and work on the communication piece,” he says. “So it’s not just about Burger King. It’s about our franchisees and Burger King. If they are more successful, we’re more successful.

“The key to success of Burger King is helping all of our franchise businesses be more profitable and the best QSR business out there. Their engagement, the councils, working hand in hand helped us overcome that and get everyone moving in one direction.”

Wiborg says the four pillars — menu, restaurant image, operations and marketing — probably won’t change but will continue to evolve at different levels. For instance, the restaurant reimaging has already begun, with much of the progress anticipated to take place in 2012. On the other hand, menu innovation is something that Wiborg says is ongoing.

“I think Burger King is two things,” he says. “One is it’s a restaurant company and the second is it’s an operations company.

“Our biggest opportunities are moving all of those four pillars constantly and making those changes with the menu innovation, restaurant image and so on.”

While the company’s global revenue for the third quarter of 2011 was slightly higher than in 2010 — with $608.1 million — only time will tell how these changes play out and how consumers and employees will embrace them.

“I’ve seen a lot of success in the building blocks of what’s to come,” Wiborg says. “Now it’s about the executing part over the next year.”

How to reach: Burger King Corp., (305) 378-3000 or www.bk.com

The Wiborg File

Steve Wiborg

President of North America and executive vice president

Burger King Corp.

Born: Chicago

Education: B.S., Northern Illinois University

Burger King fast facts:

  • Founded in 1954, Burger King is the second largest fast food hamburger chain in the world.
  • The company operates more than 12,300 locations serving more than 11 million guests daily in 76 countries and territories worldwide.
  • In 2009, BKC was recognized by Interbrand on its top 100 “Best Global Brands” list and Ad Week has named it one of the top three industry-changing advertisers within the last three decades.
  • In October 2010, the company was purchased by global investment firm 3G Capital, which is focused on long-term value creation.

Wiborg on menu innovation: Every time we roll out a menu, we look how that fits into our brand. The different things that we’ve rolled out, whether it be toppers or different products or Chefs Choice Burger, it really needs to take the place of something else but be a higher quality. … So it really doesn’t stretch our brand it really stretches the ability for our consumers to want to go to Burger King.

Takeaways

1. Get your team engaged in key changes.

2. Provide support in areas of focus.

3. Be personally involved in the transition.

Published in Florida
Page 1 of 4