How Ira Kerker eliminated micromanaging to help Vitacost grow

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Just as important as working with your leaders, you need to make an effort to show those that report to your leaders that you have their back when it comes to their responsibilities.

“I like to do a town-hall meeting where I pull a particular department in the break room together and sit to talk with people to be able to answer questions,” Kerker says.

“In those meetings, I empower the heads of those departments with the ability to be able to make the decisions so that those employees would then look to that VP instead of looking to me for the ultimate answer to a question or an issue.”

The same thing applies to Kerker’s attitude toward wins and losses.

“I believe that I should allow my executives and the directors to be able to take credit for any and all ideas and my job is to insulate them from blame,” Kerker says. “Too many people that can’t get their business to the next level and typical founders all want to take credit for all the good ideas and ultimately want to fire somebody when something goes bad.”

This approach helped Vitacost grow revenue from $143.6 million in 2008 to $191.8 million in 2009. Orders now ship out at a clip of 60,000 per week and the company is also adding a little more than 500 new SKUs every week.

And the company followed through on its plan to go public in September.

Kerker knows he couldn’t have done it alone.

“I don’t think the company could be at the size it is today on a 30 percent growth trajectory year over year if it was still being micromanaged by a single person,” Kerker says. “If your goal is ultimately to grow your business, then you need to grow up and mature as a manager. You need to get rid of this idea that you are the center of the company. It’s not in the best interest of the company for the leader to have an ego that gets in the way of running the business.”

How to reach: Vitacost.com Inc., (800) 381-0759 or www.vitacost.com

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