The Mitchell file Featured

7:00pm EDT February 28, 2007

Born: Columbus, Ind., grew up in Columbus, Ohio.

Education: Bowling Green State University, 1981, bachelor’s degree, business

What was the biggest business challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?

Integrating two companies through acquisition over two different periods of time.

There were a lot of lessons learned in the first one that could be applied to the second.

It was a learning process recognizing some things that went well and also recognizing what was learned through failure and not repeating it the second time around. As much as you can learn by reading. There was no substitute for the experience.

What really proved to be the most helpful was talking with individuals throughout the organization at different levels, listening and then recognizing when the listening was over to take decisive action and be real clear about why the decisions were made.

What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?

That customers come first. An organization needs to be focused on solving problems for customers.

What was your first job, and what did it teach you?

Delivering newspapers in Columbus, Ohio, for The Citizen Journal. It was a morning route. It taught a real discipline about work ethic.

That job required getting up at 4 a.m. every morning. No one was accountable for getting those papers on the doorstep other than me. You had to go back and collect from the customers. The sale wasn’t made until the actual collection was achieved.

I ended up paying for those papers. If somebody was delinquent on their account, that was profit right off the bottom line. I learned about collections, profit and accountability.