Staying strong

Dealing with today’s challenging economy can be
tough, and Mike Lassner depends on preparation and
staying focused and positive to
lead his 48 employees at Allied
Steel Buildings Inc.

Lassner — who founded the
company with Charles Kowalski
and serves as its president — has
prepared his employees and customers for possible downturns in
his $32 million business, which
supplies structural steel used to
construct buildings in the U.S.,
Africa, Canada, the Caribbean,
Europe and South America.

“Somebody or something
comes up that may take you out
of the system,” Lassner says.
“Try and address it, let them
understand what’s going on, and
bring it back into the system.
That’s your only way to survive
and grow.”

Smart Business spoke with
Lassner about how to manage
through a tough time with
preparation, communication
and positive thinking.

Q. How does a business
prepare for tough times?

Have a strong system. We
brought some key people in to
build a structure, a system of
how to do this business correctly
90 percent of the time. That’s
your core and [the] way you
stay prepared.

When a challenge comes up,
you’re able to see it on the fly
because something’s taking you
out of your system, and you’ve
got to be able to address that situation and figure out how to patch
the kink of what happened.

Try to stay focused on that.
You can’t change the business
that you’re in because a challenge shows up. Stay focused,
address the challenge and try to
bring it back into your system
the best way you can.

Q. How do you create and
maintain a positive atmosphere in difficult times?

Try different things. A company becomes a personality on its
own. It has to define itself, and
you learn what people like.
We’ve had picnics where
nobody’s shown up and beach
parties where everybody’s
shown up. Find out the personality of your people, of your
company, and do some fun, different things for them, and be
spontaneous. It makes a
big difference.

Have some fun; do
spontaneous things.
When you do that, you
allow the group to open
up to each other, so
when challenges do
come up, you’re able to
reach out to each other.

If you have that type of
atmosphere, you get
through any time. You
flourish in the great times
and endure through the
tough times.

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