Tom Feeney guides Safelite to see from the customer’s perspective

Greater expectations

Whether at the corporate office or innovation lab, the overall growth at Safelite continues. It took five years to go from $500 million to $1 billion, Feeney says. It will take five years to go from $1 billion to $2 billion, but it should take less than five years to get to $3 billion.

“I make anniversary calls to associates on the 20th, 25th, 30th, 35th, 40th anniversaries and I would say that 95 percent of the associates, the longer-tenured associates that I speak to, comment that we’re a different company today,” Feeney says. “It’s never a comment about the size of the organization, the number of customers you’re serving, the revenue that we do, it’s about the feel of the organization.”

And maintaining connections with your team and your business is always important, whether you have 5,000 employees or 14,000, which is the approximate number at Safelite today.

“I think that’s one of the myths of business — that the bigger you are, you wall yourself off from the associate group,” Feeney says. “I have taken great pains and great steps to not let that happen. So, no, it’s just as easy to connect with me today as it was 10 years ago. I answer my phone calls. I answer my own emails.”

His assistant knows he’ll take interruptions from associates, customers or family. Those are where Feeney’s priorities lie; that’s where he’s willing to interrupt his day.

Of course, Feeney has evolved, too, because the goal line keeps moving. You never know when another transformation may be needed.

“Do I devote more of my time today ensuring that the strategies are being executed properly? Sure. Do I spend more of my time today on people issues and people opportunities and customer opportunities? Sure. That’s because the more you grow, the expectations are higher, and I’m a person that I set the bar very, very high,” he says.

Feeney also works a lot. He’s available 24/7 — and sometimes employees and customers take him up on that.

“I hold myself to the same standards that I hold all of our leaders to, and that is to continually improve, take the feedback that others give you and work to be a better leader in the future,” he says.

 

Takeaways:

  • Articulate your vision for the company’s future and stick to it.
  • Keep the lines of communication open to employees and customers.
  • Culture comes from your words, actions and priorities.

 

The File:

Name: Tom Feeney
Title: President and CEO
Company: Safelite Group

Born: New York City
Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting, La Salle College (now La Salle University).

When you were growing up, what job did you want to do? I always liked math, so mathematics was the driver and therefore, accounting. I always liked business, so that route of accounting seemed to work. I wanted to be a CPA and ultimately a CFO of a company. That’s the path I thought I would be on.

As so many young leaders find out, that path gets interrupted by opportunity. One of the things I learned early was to go through the door of opportunity with my eyes open and my ears open without worrying about what was in the future. It would take care of itself by doing a good job.

If you had to sum up your business philosophy in a few words, what would you say it is? Culture is more important to a business’s success or failure, and putting your people first helps you achieve more than not.

Where would someone most likely find you on the weekend? With my wife, doing things around the house, and with my grandchildren.

What are you currently reading? I’m reading a John Grisham book, “The Whistler.”