Many years ago, at the beginning of my career, the company that I was working for was acquired by a competitor. I knew little to nothing about the company that bought us, or the two owners of this company.
I was working in a key account, and was therefore a crucial part of this acquisition, and so I sat down with one of the owners as he went over the terms of my employment. At the time I had fully paid family health care coverage, which was not an unusual benefit at the time. The new owner told me that he would always honor the benefits I had at that time.
I worked for that company, BG Service Solutions, for over 20 years. I learned most of what I know about the services industry from the people that I worked with at this wonderful company full of talented, dedicated and resourceful men and women. Over the years the company had grown dramatically, and I went from managing a key account to heading up a major division. We had grown from many hundreds of employees to many thousands, when one day I found myself talking with our Chief Financial Officer who mentioned that of all those employees, I was the only one who had fully paid health care coverage. She said that every year she asked the owner about this benefit, which was by then very different from everyone else in the company, and she was told that he had made a promise that this benefit would not change, and it would stay that way.
I was somewhat taken aback, but then I reflected on it. I had often over the years disagreed with one or both of the owners of this company. Sometimes I successfully persuaded them to see things my way, and many times I did not, or was convinced to see things as they did. But in all those years they never told me one thing and did something else. I didn’t need a contract for them to keep their word. Their promise was their commitment, fully, totally, and honestly. They always told me that our success was built upon three principles:
- First, a total dedication to our customers. We kept our word and did what we said we would do, even if it meant we operated at a loss.
- Second, a commitment to treat our employees fairly. They listened to me and taught me to listen to those who worked for me. Our employees knew that we cared about them, and their welfare.
- Third, we made money, but we did so only after taking care of the customer and our employees.
After all those years working at BG Service Solutions, it was nice to know that the promise that had been made to me nearly 20 years earlier was a commitment that I could count on, and even more importantly, that I needn’t be concerned about, because of the integrity of the man who made it.
In 2008 this wonderful company was acquired by an international giant of a company that is one of the leaders in our industry. I found there also many great people who motivated and inspired me.
In my many years in business I have dealt with many people that I would do business with on a handshake and a few notes on a napkin. I have also met others that I would be hesitant to deal with even if I had a roomful of attorneys reviewing every document.
I have not always been perfect, but it is my hope that those I work with would trust to do business with me with just a handshake and a promise. Promises made should balance out with commitments kept.
Are your scales in balance?