Laurans Mendelson knew HEICO Corp. was capable of producing more than one type of engine product for the commercial aviation industry, and he had a plan to make it happen. He just needed to convince his employees that his growth idea had wings.
“If you tell somebody we’ve got a bad product and it’s a dead
end and we’re selling wagon wheels instead of high-tech parts,
they are not going to get very excited,” says Mendelson, the company’s chairman, president and CEO. “But if you’re telling them
the result of this development program will be to grow the company and to make it more profitable and you and your team will
share in that growth and be part of building something, people
get turned on by that. They want to be part of it.”
Mendelson believed there was growth potential in developing
aircraft parts even as the industry was sliding downward following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He wanted HEICO to be ready
when the industry began to recover.
In order to do that, he needed to get his employees energized
about his plan. They needed to believe that the things they were
being asked to do were both important and crucial to helping the
company meet its objectives.
“You have to get them excited and enthusiastic about what the
program is, what the vision is, and how they are going to get on
board and implement that,” Mendelson says.
“Once they adopt the ideas as their own and feel excited about
where the company is going, what the program is going to be and
how we are going to grow, then it’s almost on automatic pilot.
Those people are so enthusiastic that they sell the program to
their reports and the people who work directly with them. It
becomes infectious. Everybody wants to be on board with that
program, and they get excited about it.”
Mendelson took the helm of the company in 1990, and his ability
to get employees to buy in to his plan of engagement has propelled
the now 2,000-employee company to steady growth ever since.
“If you give smart, honest and hardworking people an opportunity
to prove themselves and to grow and develop and be creative, they
are going to take the baton and run with it,” Mendelson says. “As
opposed to saying, ‘Listen, if you don’t do a good job, I’m going to fire
you.’ You don’t have to say that to motivate people. They’re not thinking about the fear of getting fired. They’re thinking about the excitement of accomplishment.”