Dan Parker, President of C.I.Agent Solutions, recently took the time to share some lessons he learned over the past year, as well as offer up some thoughts and predictions on the year to come. This post will part one of a two-part series dissecting his thoughts and musings.
1. I need to listen more – everyone does
We spend a lot of time making rash or quick judgments, but that’s unhealthy. When I wasn’t getting the sales I anticipated, I would blame everyone and everything but the actual problem at hand. We weren’t listening to what our customers were telling us. We weren’t hearing their needs. Plus, we weren’t asking the right questions. This isn’t Field of Dreams and I’m not Kevin Costner. If we build it, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will come.
2. Tradeoffs and risks are very important
I did a lot of training with my manufacturing reps over the last half of the year, and this was a point I tried to drive home with them over and over again. Not only is it true within the secondary containment industry, it’s also true in all aspects of life. Everything we do involves tradeoffs and risks, even the small decisions we make. Tradeoffs are decisions we make knowing the upsides and downsides of that decision, based on the amount of risk involved. Finding the balance between them is the key to success.
3. I’m never satisfied; I’m always striving to be better
Maybe this wasn’t a new revelation, but it was something I was reminded of many times throughout 2014. Even though we added a number of new employees last year, I still think we need more players. We’re growing, for a number of reasons, and I want to keep building the team and adding new and bright minds to the mix. In terms of communication, we’ve come a long way … but still have a ways to go. I’d like to see more understanding between our different departments, so we can all support each other and deliver optimal results.
4. The market is still out there, and bigger than we originally thought
A few years ago, when all the regulations officially went into effect, I thought the market would slowly fade. Utilities would do what they were told and take the right steps to become compliant. However, that wasn’t the case – a lot of companies just did “the minimum” in order to get the EPA to back off or to avoid a negative perception. And now, these companies are realizing that the things they did may not be adequate. Since hindsight is 20-20, these same companies are now recognizing the value of implementing some of our solutions. We’re putting “green” offerings on the table, and as I’ve always said, it’s good to be green, because green pays. It’s more cost-effective, in the long run.
5. Solutions are geographical, not universal
This is one of the most important lessons I learned this year. Just look at the weather alone, and how it varies in different parts of the country. Needs are different based on where you’re located. For this reason, I’ll be re-evaluating the product mix and the entire business model. We’ve never dissected it to the degree that the changing world is mandating. When introducing new product lines moving forward, I plan on conducting more research ahead of time, and be careful to not take advice from self-proclaimed experts without contributing due-diligence of my own.
6. Projects need to be followed through to the end
Following projects through is a good lesson to learn. It’s important for us to build as a team, as well as understand the teams within our company. Unfortunately, something I’ve noticed over the last year, is that we’ve confused activity with accomplishment, and this is one of our biggest failures. We need more activity that results in accomplishment.
Stay tuned for the second post from Dan next week, in which he reveals his goals and predictions for 2015.