Keys to success Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2008

Ron Petnuch follows three basic rules that have helped guide his professional career, first in law and now as a president and CEO.

“There are three basic roads you can take in any business,” he says. “One, you keep your integrity in place at all times. You have to be committed to what you’re doing, and committed to me means being a student of the game. The last big thing is that you have to add value.”

Following these three rules has helped Petnuch grow InterTECH Security LLC, an electronic security systems integrator company with 121 employees.

Smart Business spoke with Petnuch about how integrity, commitment and adding value can help you grow your business.

Q. What are the keys to having integrity?

Integrity, the way it was explained to me by one of my mentors was, if you do something wrong, if something doesn’t work out, it’s like putting a rock in the knapsack on your back. Every time you do something like that, it’s like putting another rock in your knapsack, and eventually, that will weigh you down.

If you get a rock in your knapsack, stop and take the rock out. Admit the problem, have the discussion with the client, have the discussion with the person you wronged and then move on. If you allow it to keep building up, it will take you down.

If something goes wrong, you admit it and fix it, but you keep your integrity, which is your trust, in place at all times. If I get something wrong here, as the CEO, I’m going to admit it.

Why would I not tell my employees, ‘Hey, that was my mistake.’ If I do that, if I have that kind of integrity, don’t you think my employees would have that type of integrity with me and their fellow employees?

When you treat your employees that way, they tend to treat you that way.

Q. How do you make sure you are committed to your business?

If you’re going to be in business, you have to do it to the best of your abilities — study it, work at it, and practice at it to become good and proficient. Be committed, and commitment’s nothing more than a compass; it keeps you pointed in a direction.

That keeps you pointed in a direction of how you handle customers, engineer jobs and perform the work. If you’re doing things that aren’t consistent to that mission, why are you doing it?

If you’re doing something that’s taking you in a different direction, then you have to ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing something that’s not consistent with that?’

Q. How do you add value to an organization?

You have to add value to your client and customers, because if they don’t see value being added, you’re not going to get far. We also have to take that view with our employees and one another.

Am I adding value to my management team? Am I adding value to my employees? Is my being here making them better, creating more opportunities for the company, etc.?

Each employee has to look at it that way relative to their teammates they’re working with and to the company. Am I adding value to the company? If the answer is no, if you’re just telling them stuff, then we’re not going to get anywhere. You then, at that point, commoditize whatever product or service you’re selling.

If the client sees value to what you’re doing, you’re providing them with solutions and solving problems, whatever it might be, that’s a good arrangement. If they just see you as a source to buy widgets and they’re looking for the cheapest price for the widget, you’re not adding value in that process.

Ultimately, that’s what comes back from the client. When your client tells you, ‘Good job, you’ve added value. How do I help get more business? If you ever need a referral, you just call me because I will talk to whoever it is you’re selling to; you guys are good.’ That is the ultimate reward; that means we’re doing what we set out to do. That’s a little vicious circle in and of itself, because the more work you do, the more you get referred, and the more you get referred, the more work you get, and you grow your company that way.

Q. What are the benefits of living by these three rules?

The company grows its revenue and maintains its margins and pricings, which makes you profitable. That’s the scorecard at the end of the day of running a company. If we’re profitable and growing our company, that means we can hire more people, provide a good work environment and be a member of our community in a positive way.

They all link to one another.

HOW TO REACH: InterTECH Security LLC, (724) 742-4900 or www.intertechsecurity.com