The first of our new Pro Talk series kicked off Thursday with four TED-style talks focused on life and leadership in the snow and ice industry. The 30-minute sessions took a more personal look at the issues affecting snow company owners who have moved out of the field. Here are the key takeaways from today’s sessions.
Mike Mason, The Lawn Pro: While dealing with the loss of his mother, his best friend and his wife’s battle with breast cancer, Mike took his eye off the ball and his company and its culture suffered because of it. A wakeup call came when the person he had groomed to become an integral part of his company abruptly left, telling Mike his company wasn’t been run “the way he wanted it to be run and wasn’t being run with integrity.” The result was a refocus on hiring people and building a company culture that embodied what he had worked so hard over the last 20 years to build.
Rick Huffman, HLM Property Management: At his daughter’s graduation, Rick was sobered when she told him how much he had missed out by putting work before family. “I missed her first Christmas because I thought it was more important to plow a library parking lot that was closed,” he said. That reality check, along with other similar ones, made Rick realize his mission in life was misguided. He left the company he had been with for more than 25 years, took time off to spend with his family and started his own company. His takeaway was to focus on people-driven leadership where you invest in your people and help and train them, especially those who may be struggling, before you fire them.
Jason Case, Case Snow Management: Having built a successful business, Jason shared that everyone’s path is different and it’s up to you as the owners to chart your own path toward achieving your vision for your company. For Jason, who grew up in his father’s company and eventually split off to form his own snow company, he was able to achieve his success through a discovery process that wasn’t easy - it came about through failure, pain, heartache, and loss. But his vision, courage and determination -and the support of a great team - made it happen. He encouraged others to do the same.
Laura Ingram, Ingram Enterprises: Growing up in the family business can be the greatest and hardest thing at the same time, who is being groomed by her dad, Rick, to take over the business when he retires. She and her sister Michelle originally had a different vision for their futures - one teaching and one in law. But they eventually came to realize that the family business and its good intentions mattered more. That doesn’t mean that working in close proximity with family is easy, but she said the key is that tough love is often necessary and that it is important to believe in each other’s good intentions. If you are working toward the same end goal but may not agree on the path to get there if you can listen to others’ opinions and work together you can find the common ground to achieve your company’s goals.