For Arnold Burchianti II, business in the past 10 years has been good. Burchianti, founder, president and CEO of Celtic Healthcare, a home health care and hospice provider, has been focused on growing his business through strategic planning and keeping his 450 employees engaged.

That engagement and strategic planning have helped the company reach 2010 revenue of $45 million and has allowed Celtic Healthcare to stay nimble and adaptable in an industry that is always changing.

“When cuts and changes have occurred, which they do quite frequently in the world of Medicare and home health care, you operationalize and try and maximize your efficiencies as best you can,” Burchianti says. “Along that journey it’s been a lot of engaging the work force in alignment with the type of strategy and tactics that we had.”

The company has continued to thrive because everyone at Celtic works for the betterment of the business.

Smart Business spoke to Burchianti about how he keeps his work force engaged and strategically aligned.

Be honest and open. We’re pretty transparent with our employees. Short of issuing a P&L and balance sheet to a nurse who won’t understand it, we give them everything we can. We try and paint that picture and get them to really understand how and why as leaders we’re doing the things that we’re doing.

We go in and show them our overhead costs, the leadership’s wages and costs according to benchmarking data that we get from cost reports and we put it out there. By really engaging the work force as to what’s going on in the industry through benchmarking data, comparing us to them and showing them where we need to improve and why we need to improve for sustainability, it makes it a little easier when you walk in and show them the facts.

Are they always happy with our decisions? Hell no, but as a leader you have to engage them and you have to be transparent. You have to let them know why you’re doing stuff so they can trust you. That’s the fundamentals of great leadership. You’ve got to get people to be engaged, to trust you and be transparent.

Understand your culture. I believe you need to come up with strategies to engage your employees and one of the best ways to do that is to take a look at the cultural health of your organization. We do these cultural tests and we pay a lot of money for it, but its well worth it. I could tell you twice a year exactly what my top three things are for corporate health and culture.

It’s easy to get baselines on your financials, on your marks, on many legislative things, on your turnover rate, but getting an objective read on culture, you can’t just go into a room and ask somebody, because they’re not always going to tell you the truth. As a leader or CEO, you can’t listen to your VPs and people around you all the time, because sometimes those people are micro-managers and they just hear what they want to hear. You as a leader need to go transcend beyond that and most of us don’t have the ability to do it ourselves. You need to bring someone in at least every few years to run these types of exercises. I’m not saying bring someone in to train and make things better; you’ve got to understand what the issue is first.

Once you’ve heard and gained the information, then you tell them that you heard them and tell them what you’re going to do. Let them know where the progress is. It’s really an art of engaging your employees and making sure you understand the health of your culture. If your people aren’t engaged and you’ve got to make a change because of a market or legislative issue, good luck, because a company like Celtic is going to beat you there 500 times faster, because we can move quicker. The small and the fast always eat the big guys’ lunch.

Form a plan. The No. 1 thing is proper strategic planning. That means making sure you understand your values and that you understand what is the single most important priority that your organization has to accomplish for your vision and mission. You have to make sure you understand what your values are, because that lays out what your strategy is going to be and what’s important to you and keeps you from chasing 9 million different facets.

Once you understand what that vision or mission statement is then … you’ve got to get your work force engaged or at least your leadership engaged and you need to be meeting with them in some cases daily or weekly. You’ve got to make sure when they wake up in the morning they are thinking about that. That’s where people fail; they’re chasing a lot of different ideas, they’re putting out fires and everyone thinks within their own division what they’re working on is their priority. Everyone needs to be aligned with that single most important corporate goal.

HOW TO REACH: Celtic Healthcare, (800) 355-8894 or www.celtichealthcare.com

Published in Pittsburgh
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 19:01

Project Execution

G. Michael Campbell and his company MCA International LLC specialize in business transformation projects from launching or developing new products to changing organizational structure. Campbell, who is president of MCA, has seen countless project undertakings that have both ended well or turned out to be project management nightmares.

From planning and tracking to specifications, budgets and timelines, strong project management can be a very big differentiator in your company. To aid companies in project management and how to develop the best techniques, Campbell wrote his latest book, “The Idiots Guide to Project Management, Fifth Edition.”

While Campbell says that you don’t have to be a genius to run a project, you do need to understand that doing a project by following some best practices will make a world of difference.

Who would get the most out of this book?

The book is really targeted for a more experienced manager who has suddenly been handed an important business project for them to manage. They understand the importance of it and they recognize the business need, but they really don’t understand how to manage a project beyond sitting down and preparing a checklist. They’re really looking for some practical guides and some practical tips that they can apply right away to increase their chance of success on this.

What do leaders often overlook in project management?

Leaders should keep the project focused more on the business goals and objectives. You need to stop at certain points and do a recheck and say, ‘Is this project still on track to deliver the business goal that I was looking for?’ Project managers want to deliver on budget and on time and that’s good. From a leader’s perspective you want to be focusing on the business value that you were looking for. The business leader is the one that has to focus on that. Business leaders can read this book and begin to make the connection for keeping that business focus on any of their projects or initiatives.

What are common mistakes that this book addresses?

The first one is keeping the project aligned to the business objectives that where the reason the project was sanctioned in the first place. Some projects, particularly the business transformation projects, can often take two or three years to complete. The business landscape can change pretty dramatically over a two- or three-year period and one of the problems is that the project team over that period of time really didn’t adapt to the new business landscape. If they had kept abreast of changes and built those into their project, they would have been much better aligned with the business and the business goals when they finally delivered on the project.

Another one is the scope of the project. What I’m going to deliver and how it’s going to be judged is really not well-defined. When you don’t have a project with a well-defined scope, you’re really not certain what exactly you’re going to deliver and what kind of requirements it’s trying to achieve and you begin to wander around and you waste a lot of time and money bumping into walls.

The last one is just keeping your stakeholders aligned and informed with what you’re doing. Particularly in these larger projects, you have a lot of people that get impacted by the projects and making sure they’re all informed and understand and ready for it is really critical.

What is the role of senior management during a project?

The problem with senior managers in these things is typically when they’ve decided to do a project they’ve been thinking about it for a while, considering it against other options and alternatives, and once they make a decision, they’re ready to dust off their hands and move on. The fact is as a project manager, occasionally I’m going to need their help for certain kinds of business issues. Senior managers need to understand they still have a role in this when the project starts. They’re not going to be in the day-to-day operation of it, but I’ve got to be able to have them ready when I need them.

HOW TO REACH: MCA International LLC, (281) 768-8014 or www.mcaintl.com

Published in Houston
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 19:01

Nick Vehr buckles down at Vehr Communications LLC

Nick Vehr, founder and president of Vehr Communications LLC, a public relations firm, doesn’t mind uncertainty.

Everyone has been enduring it for the past few years, and for Vehr and its 18 employees, that uncertainty has brought out the best in the business.

“Our company is young and I started it at the front end of the worst recession in many lifetimes,” Vehr says. “It’s an extremely scary time to be out there with a business and even more to be investing in that business and growing that business.”

While it’s a scary business environment, it will be those who work hardest and deliver the best results that will survive.

Smart Business spoke to Vehr about how he is growing his company despite tough times.

How do you deal with uncertainty?

You put your head down and work harder because you can’t control it. You can’t spend all of your time worrying about it; you have to spend time with every client you have and fight aggressively for every client you can get. That’s the only way I know how to deal with the uncertainty that’s out there. Fortunately for us, we’ve been able to grow with cash flow and we didn’t have a huge overhead to feed when the economy went bad and companies started pulling back.

What have been some of the key factors of the company’s success?

Somehow you have to strike a balance between keeping your eye on the big picture and sweating every little detail of the way you run your business, and I think that’s especially true with small businesses. You just have to be very careful in your hiring. You have to be selective in your clients and you have to work harder than the next guy. That’s the key, because there is a direct-line correlation between working hard and winning. You’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to be transparent, honest and open with clients when you give them advice, even if it’s advice they don’t want to hear. All of those things in our business are a given. The variable that spells the difference between winning and losing is, ‘How much are you willing to put into it?’

How do you plan your hiring?

This is a great time to be hiring. There is a whole lot of talent that’s out there and the trick is not trying to pick up good talent dirt cheap because in the long run you’ll lose that talent, because they’ll know you weren’t truly committed to them. We try to be very deliberate, intentionally slow and careful, and on my side when I make the decision to make the hire, I try to calibrate the best I can on a couple of different points. A disaster for us is somebody who we invest all that time and energy in, we pay them a salary for a year, they start developing a relationship with clients, and then they leave. That’s a significant lose of investment on the business side of things.

The scary thing and the challenging thing is you have to hire out in front of the work. People with whom we work, they want to know who they are going to talk to and work with on a daily basis. I can’t as CEO make the sale and then hand it off to a person who’s completely unknown to who I made the sale to. Our people are our product. It’s their brains and their skills and their experience that people are buying. For anybody who’s hiring, the hardest thing to calibrate is, ‘How do I hire out in front?’ You’ve just got to get great people, work hard and the business will come and they will end up adding value to the bottom line of your company.

How have you attracted clients in such a tough economic time?

I hope we don’t do anything differently in good economic times than we do in challenging economic times. For a successful relationship with a client, we have to commit ourselves to that relationship. That means open communication. That means thinking out ahead of the client and what their needs are and being proactive in suggesting strategic approaches and ideas. The best way to make sure a relationship works is to commit yourself to being an active partner in the relationship. It’s a lot of touch and communication. We want to become a strategic partner with our clients. We want to be at the table for the great opportunities and the tough challenges and be able to advise our clients appropriately.

HOW TO REACH: Vehr Communications LLC, (513) 381-8347 or www.vehrcommunications.com

Published in Cincinnati

Gary Conley is never satisfied with a process being good; it can be better and he will find ways to make it so. Conley is president and CEO of TechSolve Inc., a 55-employee consulting company that specializes in industries such as health care, manufacturing, and aerospace.

Conley and his team at TechSolve help businesses find ways to improve operations and become more efficient in any way possible. While he focuses on helping other companies, Conley has to also make sure he is keeping an eye on his own company’s processes.

“We have the same issues as our customers, although our people are trained to look for continuous improvement opportunities,” Conley says. “We need to be careful that we don’t fall into the rut of taking some of our processes for granted and not continuing to find ways to improve them.”

TechSolve utilizes concepts from Toyota’s production system of total quality management.

Smart Business spoke to Conley about how companies can focus on taking waste out of practices.

What are some common mistakes in business processes?

A common mistake is that the top management is not sufficiently engaged in the process and committed to seeing the process through. While you can often go into an organization and identify some immediate cost savings and other measures that might improve productivity or improve profitability, management needs to harvest those types of opportunities, but they also have to keep their eye on the long-term opportunity, which is to develop an environment within your company where everyone in the company is continuously looking for ways to improve.

Another mistake that’s often made is trying to do too much too quickly. This usually results in a lot of multitasking, which tends to delay improvements from actually being realized. It’s much better to focus on a smaller set of improvement initiatives and see them through than to try to take on a very large number.

How can management focus on improving processes and avoid common mistakes?

They need to learn as much as they can about the improvement methodologies that can be applied. Then they need to actually be personally engaged in the process and involved in working with their workers in the actual implementation of these methodologies. These are things that ultimately you can’t learn in the classroom. You can’t learn them by reading books. You can’t learn them just by watching. You have to actually become engaged and do them because it’s very much a high touch, contact sport. They need to establish clear goals and clear measures so that they can monitor the progress that’s being made and also so the workers and other managers who are engaged in the process can continuously evaluate where they are against the goals that have been set forth.

How do you develop a continuously improving environment?

What needs to occur is for all the managers to be aligned around the improvement initiatives and fully understand the purpose and the goals and the methods and the cultural transformation that is being pursued. Then, they, in turn, need to be trained in the methods and be personally hands-on involved in the actual implementation of the improvement.

How do you identify what processes need to be updated or changed?

In the beginning, it’s simply a matter of prioritization. What you’re looking for are improvements that will be meaningful to the organization that can be performed within a relatively short period of time so that they become a model for other divisions or work units within the organization to attempt to duplicate. You want some early successes and visible successes, meaningful successes that other people within the organization can observe and realize that benefits are being realized from the activity. That reinforces the belief within people that they can in fact make these changes and that these changes will make the organization more successful and their workplace a more secure place and a more productive place.

Another approach is if you have dissatisfaction from your customers, either as to quality or meeting delivery promise, then that might give you an indication of what would be the more meaningful project you might take on. Even if you didn’t have dissatisfaction, your sales people and people that are closest to the customers might be able to give you information about the aspects of your products or your service that would have the most meaningful impact.

What are the keys to recognizing what changes give you the best results?

You start with the basics. You want to look at the quality of your product. How much product is being returned? You could also look for areas where you have excessive scrap rates, for example. You look for bottleneck operations which might reveal themselves by very high work-in-process inventory levels. You look at how effective you are at achieving your delivery promise.

Although many of the techniques and methodologies originated within the manufacturing sector, they have universal applicability to any type of enterprise.

HOW TO REACH: TechSolve Inc., (800) 345-4482 or www.techsolve.org

Published in Cincinnati

Jochen Meyer has built a company from the ground up before. He was essential in helping Flabeg U.S. Solar Corp. grow from two employees to nearly 200 in less than two years. His latest venture is PMJ Service Parts Management LLC, a management consulting company that specializes in optimizing spare parts logistics.

Meyer, CEO is leading the company forward by laying out a focused and driven plan of attack for how the business operates. By staying focused and sticking to the expertise of the company, Meyer expects the company to grow globally.

“Spare parts are really an important part of business and it’s often neglected because most of the management attention is given to developing, producing and selling the original product that a company makes,” Meyer says. “The after-sales service is kind of an afterthought, although, that’s very important to customer loyalty and to the bottom line of the company.”

The company is building trust in the service parts arena by delivering what it says it will.

Smart Business spoke to Meyer about what it takes to grow a young company.

What is the biggest challenge of building a business?

The challenge is in creating your own pace and keeping everything driving. It’s actually very similar to how we started Flabeg with only two people. Now it’s kind of going back to that start-up mode that we have successfully mastered and going back to a leadership situation where you have to be very careful not to do everything, but you have to rely on yourself a lot more.

We have set our goals or sights to small to medium size companies. Those are customers that really benefit the most from what we can do. You have to believe and you have to have trust in your unique selling proposition. You have to test that a little bit before you go out there. Once you see that a lot of the people that you talk to say this is a good idea, this is something that is missing. If it’s important then you have to go with it.

Why is it helpful to have a focused business plan?

It’s important that you stay focused and do not stray and think about doing a little bit of business here and a little bit of business there, but that you stay with your goal and that you stay with what you want to do. Otherwise, you take away from getting over that initial hurdle by kind of running around it. You have to get over that hurdle to be known and to have a name out there. That is something that you cannot cut short. Focus is really what gets you there.

How do you gain customer attention?

You have to understand your customers and try to create that trust in your customers and that interest in the services you provide. We have to build a very reliable partner network. Our approach is not to do everything ourselves. Our approach is to identify what needs to get done and then have the right partners in place that we engage with to execute that part of the supply chain. Those partnerships are very vital and they have to be built on experience.

That’s an important factor where you can show to the customer that you understand what the need is and you have the exact right person to execute that and you have the management experience to manage that whole process for them and be accountable for reaching the goals that you agree upon.

It’s important to have a way how you can create that reference between what you have done in the past with these people and what you’re going to do in the future. That’s the credibility that you have to build. You have to know what you’re talking about. The people that you’re talking to are experts, so you shouldn’t promise more than you can deliver and you’ve got to listen to what their real needs are.

How do you differentiate from the competition?

I would segregate the competition in two separate areas. The one is in the peer consulting world. There are people that are focused on supply chain and logistics and there are people that as part of that also work on service parts. For them it’s a small part of their portfolio. While for us it’s the focus of what we do. That’s the difference there.

You’ve got to define your market space in a way that it’s not the same where there’s already five, six, seven, eight other people. If I would walk up to Ford Motor Company tomorrow and try to pitch against UPS, it’s probably not going to work so well. You have to understand which players are approaching what customers and where that spot is where I can fit in. Once you establish that nucleus obviously you have to grow in a number of different directions.

HOW TO REACH: PMJ Service Parts Management LLC, (412) 213-5300 or    www.pmj-spm.com

Published in Pittsburgh
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 16:33

Changing media

Long gone are the days when consumers had to wait around for a newspaper or magazine to arrive in order to get caught up on news and information. The media world has been transformed, and Scott McCafferty and Mike Emich are on the forefront of that rapidly changing industry.

McCafferty and Emich are co-founders of WTWH Media LLC, a business-to-business media company involved in magazines, websites and apps for numerous industries. The business has been growing as fast as the industry has been changing, and it is the ability to keep up with trends and evolving technologies that have led to success.

“Our premise is media used to be a one-way street,” McCafferty, managing director, says. “Media was pumped out at consumers, and consumers would read the paper or read a magazine or go to a tradeshow. Well, now it’s reverted to the users being in control of how they get their information. It’s up to a media company to surround that user with sites and resources that enable them to get their information on their terms.”

To make that possible, McCafferty has had to understand the latest technology being used in the industry and how that can help the business and its customers.

“The things that get us really excited is that media continues to change,” McCafferty says. “The tools and the technology out there continue to evolve. That’s exciting because you may think you have it figured out today, but it’s going to change tomorrow. We’re very engaged in using technology from the standpoint of using Twitter, using LinkedIn, using Facebook, we’ve got programmers that are versed in Explorer, PHP, Wordpress, Drupal and whatever the latest CMS platform is. Everyone actively uses the technology and by using it, that allows us to look for opportunities with it.”

By using technology the company has been able to deliver ROI back to the marketers. But it isn’t enough to just know technology. The company ensures it stays close to customers, as well.

“We’re out in front of our customers that are actually advertising, asking them what’s working for them and what’s not working for them,” McCafferty says. “Our ability to do that close to our customers allows us to say, ‘OK, what do we need to build to support what they’re doing?’ That level of engagement has enabled us to do things really quickly.”

HOW TO REACH: WTWH Media LLC, (440) 234-4531 or www.wtwhmedia.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 16:29

Customer service resolution

Alan Jaffa has always stayed true to his company’s philosophy that customer service equals resolution. In the 16 years that he has been with Safeguard Properties and the more than 18 months he has been CEO, a continued focus on customer service has driven the company to success.

Safeguard Properties is the largest privately held mortgage field services company in the country. It inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for a wide range of clients in the mortgage industry.

“We are the property preservation company that will maintain grass, board windows and maintain the property once the banks have taken possession and are actively trying to sell the property,” Jaffa says. “We do this nationwide. There isn’t a ZIP code we haven’t been to in the United States.”

Safeguard’s national reach and it’s commitment to quality service have allowed the company to experience growth since the company’s founding 21 years ago.

“We have been able to grow, because we market our services just by doing what we do day-in and day-out for our clients,” Jaffa says. “Our growth has always been year-over-year for 21 years and counting by continuing to pick up market share and continuing to build relationships with existing clients.”

Big contributors to Safeguard’s growth are those business relationships and the company’s ability to listen to its customers.

“Over the years, we have grown and grown by listening to our clients, hearing their needs, understanding their pain points and building on that with additional services,” Jaffa says. “Within the last year, we started providing utility services where we are handling a service that our clients always used to handle. We’ve been able to come up with processes and automate it and take that burden from our clients, which has helped us increase our visibility.”

Safeguard and Jaffa have no plans to alter the business strategy anytime soon.

“My main goal is to continue to stay true to who we are and what we’re doing out there with our clients and not lose what we built this company on,” Jaffa says. “I’m not saying it gets more difficult as we get bigger to do that, but it does get more difficult to stay focused on that with so many things going on.”

HOW TO REACH: Safeguard Properties, (800) 852-8306 or www.safeguardproperties.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 16:26

Opening up

When small companies begin to see fast-paced growth, it adds additional challenges to doing business. That is exactly the position Hank Newman finds himself in at Recon Logistics, a transportation management solutions provider for small and medium-sized manufacturers.

Newman is president of Recon, and in just six years of business, his company has grown to heights that he never anticipated to be possible. His challenge now is figuring out how he wants to continue growing the company.

“The biggest challenge is whether to just put the gas pedal down or to sit back and grow the same way that we have been growing now, which is more organic,” Newman says. “We have a huge opportunity now if we wanted to really ramp things up and bring on some salespeople and invest more heavily in technology to really push the sales and marketing growth. It’s right there in front of us. We’re very regional, even though we have customers all over the country. We could take that very regional approach and go all over the country in midmarket cities.”

Newman got his company to this position through an often under-appreciated approach of open and honest business with his company’s customers.

“We tend to price in a way that’s from the bottom up, which lends an awful lot of credibility to our customers that we’re going to make a fair dollar for what we do,” Newman says. “I’ve worked for a lot of big (third-party logistics providers) and they tend to price in a way to maximize profit. If they can save a customer 20 or 30 percent on their transportation costs, they might tell them they can save 5 percent and the customer is like, ‘Great, I can save 5 percent.’ We really turn it upside down.”

Newman’s approach has saved customers an average of 30 percent on transportation costs, has allowed Recon to never lose a customer to date and has led the company to its 24th consecutive quarter of growth.

“To me, it’s being open and objective on everything,” Newman says. “The industry that we’re in is rampant with people stretching the truth; for example, people saying the truck is going to be here in an hour, when it’s not. We find being truthful and honest with everything right away, whether it’s cost or service failure or a better way of doing things. Even if it rubs the customer the wrong way … they appreciate that viewpoint, which causes us to get recommended to other customers.”

HOW TO REACH: Recon Logistics, (440) 708-2306 or www.reconlogistics.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 16:21

Man’s best friend

When Steve Tsengas comes into work every morning, he is greeted at the door by his administrative assistant’s French poodle and his receptionist’s mixed breed dog. At OurPets Co., a producer of food, treats, supplements, grooming products, toys and other supplies for the pet industry, almost every employee is or has been a pet owner.

That love for pets is what drives the company’s innovation and industry-leading product development forward. Tsengas, chairman and CEO of OurPets Co., started the company in 1995 with just one product: a big dog feeder to help with the health and posture of bigger dogs. The product was an immediate success, and now the company has hundreds of pet products.

“Over the last 16 years, we’ve grown to approximately $20 million a year, and we have about 600 individual products,” Tsengas says. “We market our products worldwide in Canada, Hong Kong, China, Australia, Japan and Europe and are beginning to move quite aggressively in South and Central America.”

The company has grown at a double-digit pace, and Tsengas credits four areas for the business’ success.

“We’re committed to innovation and there are two types of innovation,” he says. “Evolutionary, which is brand expansion, and revolutionary, where we come up with products that really set the trend in the pet industry. We also identify new segments like obesity, senior pets, senior owners, health and wellness trends, and that is part of the innovation.”

It’s more than just the portfolio of intellectual property that has allowed for the company’s growth.

“No. 2 is a world-class supply chain operation, and we’ve been beefing it up significantly over the past few years,” Tsengas says. “As part of the world-class supply chain operations, we developed a fulfillment center that is growing even faster than the overall rate of the company. We provide fulfillment centers for Walmart, Amazon, QVC and Sam’s Club.”

The third and fourth areas helping the company are innovative, aggressive marketing and strategic acquisitions. The company is always looking for the next new thing.

“We have these categories of brands, so part of the effort is to continuously push for more products to support those brands. If you look at it like a matrix … and flowing downward are the needs and then going horizontal are the capabilities and where these intersect are how we keep coming up with products.”

HOW TO REACH: OurPets Co., (440) 354-6500 or www.ourpets.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 16:14

Array of inventory

If you told Mike Hajec that his company would be one of the country’s top distributors of pool covers three years ago, he wouldn’t believe you. His disbelief wouldn’t be from lack of confidence in his company, but because pool covers are so far removed from the core products of the company.

Hajec is the director of operations and development at MFS Supply, a security hardware distribution center that sells locks, pad locks and lockboxes to contractors, real estate agents and property managers. Today, the company offers more than 500 different products related to the security hardware industry, because customers keep asking for more.

“That’s how we started, and within the last five years, we’ve grown to about 500 different products that all correlate within that industry and those security products,” Hajec says. “[Realtors] start because they need a lockbox and then there’s 10, 12, 15, 25 items that they may need eventually from signs to measuring devices. It’s the same thing for property managers. They come to us for locks and the next thing you know we’re selling them appliances.”

It has been the company’s ability to be agile and adaptable to the changes in its market and in customer needs that has driven its recent growth.

“We’ve done everything we can and still do to make it a one-stop shop,” Hajec says. “Anything that the customer asks us for, we pretty much look into carrying. That’s been a big part of our growth is starting from literally five to 10 products five years ago to 500 products today.”

MFS Supply operates in a pretty niche market, but it has been the company’s ability to expand that niche and appeal to customers needs that has allowed the business to blossom.

“A lot has to do with the customer,” Hajec says. “We value our customers like everyone does. However, we take it a step further and we become almost like friends to our customers. That has helped our customers come to us and tell us, ‘Hey, we’re having trouble finding this type of sump pump. Can you find it for us? Or we need this type of dehumidifier or these style tarps.’ That has really helped us grow our product line.”

Hajec credits the company’s success to its ability to focus on the customer.

“We can adapt to any customer preference,” he says. “Where the customers going we’re going with them and we’re leading the way in making sure we have what they need to do that.”

HOW TO REACH: MFS Supply, (440) 248-5300 or www.mfssupply.com

Published in Akron/Canton