Mon Sep 17, 2012
Keeping Pace with an “Awarding” Year
It’s been quite a year so far. I was able to complete the purchase of IEA and take that first step toward fulfilling a career-long goal. In April, my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, designated me its 2012 Executive in Residence. Then I was honored with their 2012 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. That was followed by our company’s recent selection as one of the fastest growing 50 companies in the greater Milwaukee marketing area, with the further distinction of being named one of the five fastest growers among the “Future 50” award winners.
While taking a moment to catch my breath, I recognized the lofty height to which we’ve set the bar for ourselves. Conclusion: We’ve got a really challenging year coming up.
- We’ve got to grow at a pace at least equal to the past year.
- Growth will be expected, in representative amounts, from all four members of our corporate family.
- News sources are more often reporting economic weakening these days, so it appears our continuing growth may very well have to come “against the tide”.
- And the CPA inside me will insist this all be accomplished with appropriate financial achievement.
In thinking through what it’s going to take to pull this off, I’m struck by how relevant that time-honored cliché “people are our most important resource” really is. The equipment we need is available, mostly at reasonable prices. We’re surrounded by facilities into which we can expand. We even have lenders anxious to help. What’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find are people with the skills, experience and work ethic to lead and implement the effort that’s going to be needed. We have a great team but we are still recruiting more.
We’re not alone dealing with this dilemma. Colleagues have lamented the same frustration, the more technical the company’s products the louder the complaint. The subject of the “Skills Gap” shows up at every conference. Further evidence of the extent of this problem lies in the fact that the largest single group of this year’s Future 50 companies provides recruiting services.
Our immediate solution is to challenge the excellent group of managers we’ve been fortunate to assemble over the years…our “stable of experience”... to upgrade our systems and procedures in order to increase productivity…the classic “doing more with less” philosophy. We will also do some investing in new equipment, and that should relieve a little pressure on the people issue.
But what may turn out to be one of our most important actions over several future years is the hiring of our new Director of Human Resources, Dan Schulz. I’m laying on his desk the responsibility to not only find the talent we need immediately, but to put in place programs that will generate what could very well become the future’s most critical competitive advantage…people able to get the job done.
I’ve also challenged the rest of Engendren management, and that of our four subsidiaries, IEA, Silver Linings, ArcRon and Chrysalis, to make sure we are all truly an “employer of choice” for talented new candidates. That should help make Dan’s job just a little bit easier.