2002 Ernst & Young entrepreneur Of The Year Awards: John Bachmann, Master Entrepreneur
Rovai, Ellie Harland
John Bachmann’s description of an entrepreneur is “someone who sees what others don’t see, who recognizes opportunities others doiit identify, and has the courage and fortitude to pursue the endeavor.”
Indeed, he describes himself as the conductor of an orchestra. He selects the score and sets the tempo. His employees are soloists who are disciplined to work together as a team. And their common goal is to build something with social value for the benefit of their customer’s and employees’ family, health, and financial stability.
“We organize around the relationship between our investment representative and the customer,” Bachmann says. At a time when many major investment firms are focused on high” net-worth investors, Edward Jones is more concerned with one of the largest groups of investors-those who want personal investment counseling.
The niche market that Edward Jones serves is comprised of smaller clients who value relationships with their investment counselors; customers who want personal service and advice tailored to their specific needs.
Recently featured in a BusinessWeek article (June 10, 2002), entitled “Main Street Trumps Wall Street,” Bachmann stated that Edward Jones doesn’t encourage their clients to gamble. He doesn’t endorse on -line trading, believes in little or no margin trading, and usually doesn’t recommend over-valued dot.com ventures. Customers appreciate that direction; new customers are flocking to Edward Jones to the tune of 1,000 a month.
“We focus on the mentality of the investor,” Bachmann says, “the mindset of people building their dreams.”
Indeed, Bachmann could be called an entrepreneur for the common man. A native Midwesterner from Centralia, Ill., he began his career at Edward Jones in 1959, work ing as a messenger during summer vacations from college while living at the YMCA.
As he steadily progressed up the ladder, Bachmann says he got his real education when he ran a branch office in Columbia, Mo., calling on farmers, merchants and other everyday people.
“We thought our success was due to our locations in rural communities,” Bachmann says, “But what we realized was that the pivotal factor was the investor’s mentality, not the geographic location.”
The company’s business model is unique in other ways, too. Their investment counselors are highly motivated representatives with the entrepreneurial spirit, essential for success.
Bachmann, who has been managing partner since 1980, is a firm believer in “setting clear objectives at the top and creating jobs that allow for personal employee growth.” From all points of view, the model is working well.
Edward Jones does, little investment banking, so they’re not experiencing the is are many Wall Street firms. What they are experiencing is tremendous growth.
Nicknamed the “contractor” of the firm, Bachmann is credited with what the company is today-the largest network of investment offices with 8,357 locations. Previous expansion into Canada and the United Kingdom is expanding to include Europe and other countries as they become economically developed.
Edward Jones is the fourth largest privately owned company in the St. Louis region, with $2.1 billion in revenue in 2001.
Bachmann insists on doing the right thing for employees and customers alike. “There are just some things we will not trim, and some things we simply must do,” he says.
“Our success as business people and as members of the community depends upon the economic and social well-being of that community. To ensure its vitality,” he continues, “we must always look for ways to give something back, Something that shows the outstanding contributions people can make when they work together.
While Edward ones gives millions of dollars to various charitable organizations, it thinks its pool of 25,000 talented employees have an even greater impact on their communities. As a matter of fact, not only does Bachmann endorse such employee participation, he has been known to Climb up on a roof and nail shingles to a building for Habitat for Humanity.
Fortune Magazine recently name Edward Jones as the No. 1 Best Company to Work for in America, and twice Working Mother Magazine has ranked the firm among the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers.
Copyright St. Louis Region Commerce and Growth Association Jul 01, 2002
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