By Marie Lopez and Maggie Torres
We had the pleasure to attend the 11th Annual Central Coast Business Symposium on June 13, and walked away truly inspired after hearing leaders describe their efforts to transform their respective industries by creating strong companies with roots in the Central Coast. It was further validating to hear about their successes and how so many of their strategies revolve around the foundational tools that we at Collaboration instill in our clients’ companies. Check out our recap of the event’s speakers.
“By Your Side: How to Make HR Your Company’s Partner Instead of the Police”
Peggy Tayloe, Vice President, HR and Global Recruiting at West Pharmaceutical Services, spoke about recruiting and retaining top talent through strengthening connections between work and the workforce. Her five steps include:
- Share a sense of mission, teaching employees how to connect to something bigger than themselves.
- Take a chance on talent by letting them make mistakes and using those mistakes as a learning opportunity to improve the employee’s skills.
- Operate like a technology company, even if you’re not, and find new ways to automate, innovate, and transform.
- Make it personal and engage employees by asking them to share their values.
- Be a village; build relationships, mentor, and network to connect employees to a bigger purpose.
“Developing the Next Generation in Family Succession”
Succession planning and exit strategies are a hot topic right now; at Collaboration, we’ve been working hard to help our clients — at any stage of the business life cycle — understand the necessity of establishing these plans. In this panel, Karen Rizzoli and Kyle Rizzoli from Rizzoli’s Automotive and Josh Bingham from Jack’s All American Plumbing discussed their personal stories of being the 2nd/3rd generation in their respective family businesses.
Both sets of leaders realized it was time to step up when their parents were ready to retire. They wanted to continue to build the business in a beloved community and carry on the legacy left by the previous generations. Yet, they saw opportunities to develop additional plans and processes to ensure the business could advance and stay relevant to the times. For example, Kyle realized there was a delicate balance between “rocking the boat” and becoming a leader to his dad and the company’s senior level technicians, stating that the had to sit down with them and extract all of the valuable information stored in their heads in order to put it on paper and make it an official process in order to ensure this high level of information and service was available for the next generation to follow.
Josh echoed that idea and said it’s sometimes difficult to set new roles between the generations and have everyone in agreement over who makes the decisions. For example, it was difficult for the older generation to understand the changes they were implementing, particularly when it came to motivation. As Kyle shared, the older generation has a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality, while the younger generation understood that employees needed more individualized attention and recognition to bolster their success.
Despite the challenges of being a second generation business, Kyle, Karen, and Josh learned that their parents were valuable resources, particularly when it came to assuring their customers that they are still delivering the expected high-quality work. The second generation learned to continue to value their employees and customers in the same way their parents did, with modern twists.
“Two Brothers’ Perspectives on Building Businesses and Community on the Central Coast”
Andrew Firestone, a development and acquisition entrepreneur who co-founded StonePark Capital, and Adam Firestone, co-owner of Firestone Walker Brewing Company, discussed how their entrepreneurial spirits evolved to create successful companies. The brothers agree that the key to success is developing crucial relationships with the community-at-large to ensure that any business development and properties are handled with care and concern for the people most affected by them.
When Adam began his craft brewery, which is now the ninth largest in the country, he soon realized how much he had to listen to his customers, particularly after a waste water pond in Paso produced strong odors smelled all over town. Adam and his partner faced the backlash by facing the problem, addressing it, and being patient as they developed plans to solve the problem and regain the community’s trust.
When Andrew began a hotel development, he understood the impact his decisions would make on the community and that change makes people nervous. So, he faced it head-on and ensured the neighboring community was engaged and a part of the process, which he states is an integral part of doing business in SLO County. The brothers emphasized that they came back to the Central Coast (after living and working elsewhere for a while) is due to the caring community; they are adamant that the community’s voices will always dictate their companies’ direction.
As their businesses grow, they wish to maintain the same quality and brand initially created, but they now understand when to step back. The DNA the business was built upon needs to be maintained, so when the owners wish to grow and push the boundaries, they also need to understand when to stop pushing. As Adam said, running a business is like training for a marathon — when you get to the point of overtraining, it’s time to stop and reevaluate the progress.
Did you attend the Central Coast Business Symposium? What were your key takeaways? If you’re interested in finding out more about Collaboration’s succession planning and business growth engagement strategies, please reach out to us; we’re always happy to meet for coffee to discuss any barriers your company is facing.