On October 5, 2012, I participated in the Park Industries Digital Stoneworking Expo, hosted by Rock Solid Surfaces in Virginia Beach.
It was incredibly enjoyable and valuable. This time there were four fabricators sharing their stories. Mark Raby of Austin Countertops, John Robinson of Rock Solid, and Blake Wamstad of Hatton Granite all gave candid, open, informative talks about their businesses.
But, the speaker who struck me the most was Rob Riegler of Lakeside Surfaces – in his talk about how changing their culture saved their business.
Maybe it’s on my mind as Moraware grows; we haven’t consciously defined our own culture. Rob’s story is more evidence that it’s very important, even though it feels like “not real work”.
When the downturn hit, Lakeside was hit immediately and devastatingly. The company went from 40 to 25 employees in 2 weeks. Those that were left had reduced wages, shorter hours, and their medical benefits were cut.
As a consequence, there was employee dissent. One of the reasons why there was dissent is because Rob had an unclear corporate message. He realized that because of the poor communication with employees the “perceived problems were reality”.
Commitment to Change
So, Rob and the team at Lakeside developed a commitment to change, and communicate that change to everyone at the company. They adopted a mantra of honesty & transparency, and the employees were on board.
They began to proactively share the company financials with the team, and explained the long-term benefit of investing in new technology. Instead of being perceived as “You fired employees, and now you’re buying a new CNC.“, the employees understood that they shared in the ownership of the company, and ultimately would share in the success.
Lakeside spent a large amount of effort on internal marketing, which drove employee confidence and employee retention. And now, as they’re beginning to grow again, it means that every employee is involved in the hiring process and will veto new employees that aren’t a cultural fit.
In addition to having a committed workforce, the tangible results have been better quality of work, fewer mistakes, and an energized customer base. All of that has led to better margins, increased sales, and growth.
Lakeside feels like rather than “buying a machine” when they add to the equipment to their shop, they’re building a company that is “The Machine“.
Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing and estimating software. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell granite remnants with fabricators near you.