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Columbia Business Monthly

Leaders of Fastest Growing Companies Share Insights, Advice

Nov 04, 2022 04:53PM ● By Donna Isbell Walker

The challenges of the past 2½ years have not left the 50 Fastest Growing Companies untouched, but their leaders are optimistic about the future, and most are looking to continue to grow their businesses.

In Part 2 of our roundtable, company leaders share advice and look toward the next few years. 

1. Are you currently hiring? If so, what positions are available and what skills are required?

A. Robbins Construction Group is always looking to add talented, driven, and dynamic professionals to our growing team. We are seeking preconstruction project managers, project managers, senior project managers, superintendents, multi-family project managers, multi-family superintendents, and assistant project managers. Send your resume to [email protected]. – Thomas Robbins, business development manager, Robbins Construction Group 

A. We’re always looking forward, and that means that we’re constantly looking for new talent to join our company. We are currently seeking highly motivated brokers to join our dynamic and collaborative company in all of our locations and to find other great people to support these locations. – Chris Sands, founder and CEO, Sands Investment Group

A. Yes, Logistics Executives. We look for potential employees that are good at multitasking, with a solid work ethic, who are driven by success with a strong commitment to building business. – Mark Neumeyer, CEO, JEAR Logistics

A. Absolutely. We're currently looking for a Training/Enablement Manager, a Software Developer/Engineer, an expert in Sales Operations, Service Technicians, and a Service Manager. We also have warehouse positions open, and by the time this article publishes, I bet we'll have something else open. We have grown our staff by 30 percent in 2021, and we don't plan on stopping anytime soon. – Neal Shade, founder, Air Compressor Services

A. Yes. We are currently looking to fill a Legal Assistant position. The ideal candidate has a positive can-do attitude and is highly motivated. One-year experience working in the legal field preferred. High school diploma required. Associates or Bachelor's degree preferred. Competitive salary and benefits. We are interested in hiring a candidate who has a great attitude, is dependable, and that has the same philosophy of providing unparalleled legal representation while maintaining core values of loyalty, integrity, diversity and teamwork. Must be highly organized, hardworking, a self-starter and capable of working independently as well as with a team. – Mark Stanley, co-owner, The Stanley Law Group

A. With the change in the market, we are currently hiring hungry real estate agents and lead-generation associates. – Jeff Cook, CEO, Jeff Cook Real Estate

A. Our team is constantly growing and seeking talent with skills ranging from marketing professionals and educational trainers to sales team account managers. Available positions can be found on our website at Don’t see a specific opening you want? Go ahead and send us your resume to [email protected]! We are growing quickly and are always on the lookout for our new team members. – Keone Trask, Clear Touch

2. What are the most important traits of a good leader?

A. See the good things within people and work patiently to bring out their strengths. Help them grow willingly and consciously. For a leader, it is very important to keep learning, see the future, and communicate his/her vision. Every single employee should be clear about the future and goals to achieve. They should understand how this benefits their career and future. – Jane Zhang, CEO, STAR EV

A. Always putting his team first! Knowing when a team member may need support before they actually know it. – Brian Peppin, co-owner, Blue Haven Pools

A. Honesty and persistence. Your team needs to know they can trust you, that you have their back, and that you will go the extra mile even before you ask them to. – Jim Tindal and Todd Prochaska, partners, Butcher Shoppe International/New York Butcher Shoppe

A. Be willing to take advice from other people and never be afraid to make a decision. Always have confidence in the direction you have picked. – Susan Lindsey, owner and CEO, AMEC, LLC

A. Vision. Resilience. Empathy. Mindfulness. – Dianne Zukowsky, partner, Flare Media Agency

A. To step back and watch your employees lead. – Larry Echerer, president and chief financial officer, Echerer Painting Contractor Inc.

A. Supportive, communicative, and open minded.  Leaders need to listen and support their team's goals and lead from their experience and teach with empathy. – Brad Ebenhoeh, CEO and partner, Accountfully

A. Of course any leader is going to go through a learning curve in the early stages, especially if they’re a business owner as well, but it is important to take a step back from the issue and find a solution. Listen to your employees, your partners, and the top industry leaders; they can help guide you make the right decisions for your business. At Clear Touch, we believe that someone who is constantly learning something new every day is one of the most important traits anyone can have. So first you laugh, then you listen to what made those mistakes, and learn from them in the future. – Keone Trask, CEO, Clear Touch

A. To me, it’s about mutual respect, authenticity, and trust. Care deeply about your team members, understand what is important to them, and support them. Always be willing to jump in and help the team, any way you can. Be authentic in who you are and how you communicate. – Steve Thibodeau, CEO, Global Lending Services

3. What is your vision for your company’s future?

A. We are going to keep building on what we do so well, and that is hiring great people with specific areas of expertise and building around them. The result of that will be more offices, more revenue streams and enhancements to our platforms for both our brokers and our clients. We are determined to maintain the incredible culture that we have built and be a leader of integrity in the industry. We have the infrastructure in place to scale, and now is the time to press our foot down on the gas. – Chris Sands, founder and CEO, Sands Investment Group

A. My most important goal, outside of helping our customers minimize downtime and keep their machinery running efficiently, is providing development opportunities for our staff. I think personal, professional, and spiritual growth are all very important, and I try to proactively create opportunities for each one. While this company helps me to provide for my family, the company isn't about me – I get way more out of watching others develop. – Neal Shade, founder, Air Compressor Services

A. We have a fantastic team of 2,600 dedicated employees who are executing at a high level every day. Our formula has proven successful, but we need to keep the focus on what we can do better. – Todd Turner, CEO, OTO Development 

4. What advice would you give to someone that is interested in starting a business?

A. Be flexible and prepared for anything. When we started in 2017, we could have never imagined the pandemic around the corner. We were fortunate to make it to the other side, as healthcare returns to “normal.” But without the resiliency of our team and ability to pivot quickly to address Covid-19, we might not have been so lucky. – Natasha Lee, co-founder and CEO, Floyd Lee Locums

A. Build a support team and keep them close. Never be scared to expand. Have a nest egg for a rainy day. – Brian Peppin, co-owners, Blue Haven Pools

A. Identify and develop core values for the business early on. This will set the foundation of your business and allow you and your teammates to know what is expected of them and what they can expect from the leadership team. – Stephen Stokes, president, Stokes & Company, CPAs

A. Pick the right business and surround yourself with good people. – Todd Turner, CEO, OTO Development

A. Maintain financial stability at all times is the key to growing a successful business. You will have many different stressors to worry about when first starting a business, financial stress is the one that you don’t want clouding your judgement on how to operate the business. – Brandon Schneider, owner and CEO, SEJ Services

A. Have thick skin, patience, and a lot of humility, but most importantly surround yourself with others that compensate for your weaknesses. – Jason Walter, CEO, National Land Realty

A. Be prepared to work hard. Keep your nose to the grindstone. Celebrate large and small successes. Pick partners that are pushing in the same direction. – Kevin Ball, president, Industrial Project Innovation LLC

A. While I would expect my answer may change slightly depending on the type of business that someone is starting and how well-capitalized they are, I believe a common theme will always be to truly understand where you are financially, always be prepared to take home less and keep your investment in the business, and, last but not least, be ready to put everything you have on the line; health, money, family, friends, hobbies, life … everything.  It sounds out of balance – it is. – Todd Jessup, president, FLEXSPACE

A. Start with the best team you can possibly put together. Be sure you have technical and business experience in your leadership. Never forget that your greatest value is in your team. Competitors may copy your technology and operating model, but they may not be able to match your team's commitment, ingenuity, and agility. Plan well, expect the plan to require adjustments, assume it will be harder and take longer than you think. Stay focused on your mission. – Jay Flanagan, chief strategy officer, Luxor Scientific

A. Don’t live and die by your business plan. It should be a fluid document that changes daily/often. Also, take the leap as there is no perfect time to start a business. – Will Stephan, co-founder, Logisticus Group

A. Dream, plan, network, and obtain sufficient capital. – Mary Lou Parisi, co-CEO, Eye Health America

5. What expert advice do you have to offer businesses in growth mode? 

A. Be careful not to be carried away with growth and success. Things can turn in a blink of an eye for the worse. Always look for changes and improvement and look out for signs of turning in the marketplace. Build up the strength in cash reserve and ability to weather the storm when it comes, because it will. – Jane Zhang, CEO, STAR EV

A. Concentrate on the things that will actually push your company forward and don't spend time on things that don't help. – C. Lanford Holloway, CEO and founder, TerraStride Inc.

A. An investment in your people is an investment in your business. We have seen tremendous growth year-over-year and been privileged to receive accolades for our growth, but none of it would have been possible without our determined team. When you serve your people, they invest in your organization’s success. – Natasha Lee, co-founder and CEO, Floyd Lee Locums

A. Surround yourself with people who complement your strengths and see your blind spots. – Dianne Zukowsky, partner, Flare Media Agency

A. Build a circle of advisors that you trust and are able to allow you to grow unimpeded. Be willing to delegate as much as you can, but be sure you know the things you need to keep a pulse on. – Will Stephan, co-founder, Logisticus Group

A. Spend the time and money needed to build the right leadership team and create a sound structure prior to pushing your strategic growth plan. – Brandon Schneider, owner and CEO, SEJ Services

A. Think big but set milestone goals in order to track progress. Mind overheads in growth times in order to be sustainable in slower times. Keep a close tab on market conditions. – Kevin Ball, president, Industrial Project Innovation LLC

A. Plan your growth carefully and in line with your vision. Forecast operational and financial performance effectively. Measure your performance and, above all, be prepared to adjust your plan rapidly to changing business conditions. – Jay Flanagan, chief strategy officer, Luxor Scientific

A. It's OK to walk by faith and not by sight, but don't lose sight of profitability along the way. – Jeff Cook, CEO, Jeff Cook Real Estate

A. Growth is fun, and challenging, and scary, and exciting. My advice is to be sure you are enjoying the journey as you grow. – Matt O’Neill, CEO, Matt O’Neill Real Estate

A. My advice is to reinvest everything back into the company, specifically in areas that fuel your growth.  Whether it is people, technology, customer satisfaction – whatever it is that makes you stand out and succeed, put your focus on those things, your time and your capital, into enhancing and growing those things. – Mark Neumeyer, CEO, JEAR Logistics