Growth Leaders: Problem-solver

Growth Leaders: Problem-solver

Cymerman, Abby

Companies often find themselves in a slump because they didn’t change their corporate mindset to support their growth.

A perfect example is Seville-based Panther Expedited Services Inc. Rather than view Panther as a transportation and logistics services business, CEO Andy Clarke prefers to think of it as a problemsolving company.

“As you solve more problems for your customers, they’re going to give you more problems to solve,” he says. “We’ve grown our revenue base, which has allowed us to expand our employee base. If we have more problems to solve, we’re going to need more people to solve them.”

By expanding its sphere of influence, its customers have become more reliant on Panther. This creates a true partnership with customers and gives Clarke’s employees more opportunities for development.

Panther’s employee base has grown 63 percent since 2002. Its sales have also grown from $84.8 million in 2002 to $170.4 million in 2006.

“We didn’t double the size of our employee force; we used technology to make them more productive,” Clarke says. “You’re looking at technology and researching it but you’re also listening to your people every day. If you have good people, they’re going to ask you for the tools to help them do their job better.”

The successful growth of a company also depends upon clear communication from its leaders, and in addition to walking the floors and sending monthly updates, Clarke shares his vision in two major ways.

Once a quarter, he takes 10 to 12 employees – he calls it the President’s Club – out for a business lunch to talk about corporate goals and objectives. He also meets weekly with his senior managers and supervisors to discuss various aspects of the company.

“They can go back to their department and say, ‘I just heard this. This is how it’s affecting our sales efforts, and this is what we need to do,”‘ he says. “They’re more informed, and as a result, they take more ownership.”

Clarke believes companies get better or worse but never stay the same. This message of continuous improvement is ingrained into Panther’s culture, and Clarke says it helps employees think about what they cart do each day to better serve their customers.

Copyright Smart Business Network Oct 2007

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