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Herman Trend Alert: Employees More Valuable than Customers

Recently, we heard about an employer who is a forerunner of what we believe is to come. A 120-person advanced manufacturing organization in Browns Summit, NC, literally fired its biggest client — refusing additional work. Sales with this household name client had grown rapidly to the point where they had represented 60 percent of the company’s annual revenue. Nuts, you say? Not at all — in fact, it may turn out to be a brilliant move.

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Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at http://www.hermangroup.com/archive.html

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From “Herman Trend Alert,” by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists.

Posted: Dec. 1, 2004, 9 a.m., EST

GREENSBORO, NC — Recently, we heard about an employer who is a forerunner of what we believe is to come. A 120-person advanced manufacturing organization in Browns Summit, NC, literally fired its biggest client — refusing additional work. Sales with this household name client had grown rapidly to the point where it represented 60 percent of the company’s annual revenue. Nuts, you say? Not at all — in fact, it may turn out to be a brilliant move.

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The president of ABCO, Brad Kemmerer, said the client’s demands were “unreasonable.” “We can not be a ‘great place to work’ without employees and this client was bullying my employees.” “Their demands for turnaround were impossible to meet even with our people working seven days a week,” he added. “No client is worth losing my valued employees.”

The employees were pleased and somewhat surprised; the reactions from the client were anger and outrage. They threatened never to do business with the burgeoning engineering firm again. They ranted and raved, expecting the small firm to cave under the pressure from this well-known, powerful company. It didn’t. ABCO held fast, knowing what they were doing was “the right thing to do” for their employees and the long-term success of the company.

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Yes, it is having an impact on sales. They are reducing expenses and looking for ways to replace that work. It has not been easy, but they appear to be weathering the financial storm. And that big, angry client has already given the firm two new projects — on more equitable, win/win terms.

Some might say this company is misguided; companies must be customer-focused at all costs. To the contrary, we believe ABCO is a shining example of what is to come. In the future, we will see more and more wise employers basing their decisions on what is right for their employees. The reason is simple: Just as in the late nineties when employees were “choosing” their employers, we will see a return to those days. Employers who do not put their employees first do so at their own peril.

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Copyright 2004 by The Herman Group — From “Herman Trend Alert,” by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists. (800) 227-3566 or www.hermangroup.com.

The opinions expressed in “Herman Trend Alert” articles appearing on aftermarketNews.com do not necessarily reflect the opinions of AMN or Babcox Publications.

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