A little over a month ago we lost a great man. His name was Jerry Karolat and he was not only my Dad, he was my first mentor in business. I’d like to share a story he told me when I first entered the world of business.
Dad said that one of the reasons why he was successful in the logging business is because of the men he had working for him. This was in the late seventies and eighties, so it was a very different time when it came to doing business. He said that after a few years he had a great core group of employees and he found that he rarely had to fire anyone who wasn’t working out. If a new hire had poor work ethic, didn’t have the skills required or didn’t fit in the men would ‘run him out of there before I got back’. He would ask where the new guy was and his men would just say, “He didn’t work out”. I imagine some of their methods would probably curl the hair of any HR manager today, but the point is even in an age very different from today the culture of an organization was vital to its success.
I know he built a solid culture not just from that story he told me but because I grew up with it all around me, I just didn’t realize it at the time. Everyone worked very hard, did whatever had to be done and worked crazy hours when required. But there was also always an abundance of laughter and practical jokes. The coffee was always on, people were always welcome to stop by for a visit, and you never knew who was going to walk through the door next. I believe he said, “The coffee is always on and the bulls**t is always thick,” with a grin on his face. Years later I still meet people who come up to me and say “I worked for your Dad,” with pride in their voices and on their faces. That speaks volumes for enduring culture and strong leadership.
That is one of the reasons Trenchant Business Evolution exists, and one of the things we help our clients do. Build a strong culture in your organization and it will be the foundation for your success.