A Guest Post from Tom Gelin of Air Flow Inc.
This week on the blog, we’re welcoming Tom Gelin, President of Air Flow Inc. in Milwaukee, WI. Representing HVAC manufacturers for more than 50 years, Air Flow brings unparalleled range, support and experience to its customers in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Hey there. Price asked if I had something to say in a guest post. I do, so here goes.
I’m Tom, and I’ve been an HVAC rep and principal for over 25 years. I’ve worked with Price for more than half those years. If you’re reading this, you have some reason to know Price Industries. (It’s their blog after all.) As a supplier, partner, competitor, rep or employee, odds are, you know something about the character of the company.
How can you know if your HVAC supplier is growing or dying? (In truth, you can leave the part about HVAC out of it. It doesn’t matter what the industry is.)
You can get an answer to this question by posing a difficult problem, then gauging the response.
Dying companies view problems as inconveniences and avoid them.
Growing companies view problems as opportunities and embrace them.
Don’t get me wrong. I read Jim Collins’s Good to Great too. The Hedgehog Concept is simple and effective: identify what you do well and make it your focus. “At our company, we do this; that’s all we do,” is a statement a Great company might make.
It can also be an excuse for not doing something hard.
If someone asked Price to make patio furniture, sure, they could do it, but they probably wouldn’t. That’s focus. If someone asked Price (while making a compelling argument) to investigate a problem in their industry, they’ll probably do it. That’s looking at a problem as an opportunity.
Recently, I experienced this exact scenario. I asked Price and another manufacturer to investigate a complex, industry-related issue. Price did. In fact, in light of the concern, Price will be offering an equipment accessory to address the issue in the future. The other manufacturer decided it wasn’t their problem. They did nothing.
You and I get to work with both kinds of companies. Working with a dying company can be profitable too but is often joyless.
There’s nothing on Price’s profit and loss statement, or mine, to articulate the value of this problem-as-an-opportunity interaction. At least not now.
And Price still has not outgrown the perspective of seeing problems as opportunities. A long history of that same interaction, year after year, supported by leadership, brings more than incremental annual growth – it turns a $20 million company into a billion-dollar enterprise.
|The Air Flow team raising the company's 50th anniversary flag, spring 2023. Here's to the next 50 years!