He’s the man

Whether you’re a customer of Docutek Imaging Solutions Inc. or one of its 90 employees, Steven Staller wants to hear from you.

“I answer the phone,” says Staller, president of the office equipment and technology provider. “Even if it’s a problem, it’s an opportunity. I know for a fact that sometimes you have to go right to the top to get things answered properly.”

That attitude has helped grow Docutek’s revenue 390 percent over the past three years, to $11.5 million in 2005. But Staller knows how quickly that could change if he doesn’t have the right people on board.

“If you have people that don’t treat clients like you want them to, they are going to ruin the business for the person who started it,” Staller says. “We try to make sure everyone understands that’s why we have a job — to take care of the customers.”

Smart Business spoke with Staller about his open leadership style and the importance of having the right people on your staff.

Q: How do you identify people who can lead?

When you grow people from the start and they show that they have a passion for growing the company, those people can be leaders. They are smart, they are educated and they can develop new skills as they grow.

We like to promote leadership from within the company so people see that there is a path they can take. If somebody is here for a long time and they have the ability to do the job, they are definitely going to move up the ladder.

If somebody is hungry and they have the desire to push themselves and they can self-motivate … that’s going to be a successful person.

Q: How would you describe your company culture?

I’m not an absentee boss. I believe in being able to do most things that anyone else is asked to do. I don’t think you can lead unless you’re able to make sure people understand what you want them to do and how to do their job.

We want everybody to be happy in their job so they want to come to work. We’re also serious about what we have to do. I try to make sure that everybody is treated with the same respect that I want. We don’t want people to feel like a number. We’d rather have them be a person who knows they play an important part in the company.

We like people to know all about our organization because there’s nothing we have to hide.

I love listening to my people, because they always have great ideas. Just because I’m the CEO doesn’t mean they don’t have a good idea. There are people that just feel they know it all. I know I don’t.

Q: How important is planning for the future?

In business today, it’s sort of like a ballgame. If you get behind, it’s very hard to catch up. It’s long-term planning, but it’s short-term performance.

We make a plan and we execute. Having no plan is planning to fail. They’re useless unless you execute that plan and turn it into what it’s supposed to be.

Be someone who is able to create benchmarks to reach and surpass. Change those each year as you start to achieve. You have to be able to focus on where you’re trying to go and have blinders on so that you just get there and you don’t get thrown off the track.

Q: How important are people to growing a business?

You can have the right products and you can be successful in spite of yourself. The most important thing in having a successful business is having the right people. I think it’s more important than having the right products.

The biggest problem as an entrepreneur is when you hire people and that staff grows. When it’s very small, they all know what you like and how you want them to be. But the larger the staff gets, the less contact you have with each individual.

There’s no guarantee with anybody that you talk to that they are going to be the right person. You just have to give it your best heartfelt examination and you take a chance.

If it doesn’t work out, you lose money. If it does, then you have another successful person. But when you get those people, you have to really put the training into them to have them be successful as quickly as possible.

There are no secrets. They have to be extroverted, someone who has desire and drive and wants to get ahead. We look for people who are passionate for where we want to go.

HOW TO REACH: Docutek Imaging Solutions Inc., www.docuteksolutions.com

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