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Create space to work on the business

Law #2
Create space to work on the business
“Delegate, trust, then release.”
Marcie Simpson
President & COO, Nycote Laboratories Corp.
Leadership Award winner
Linda McCauley
Dean, Emory School of Nursing
CE 407 | Chair: Larry Kihlstadius
Vistage member since 2013
Leadership Award

In her journey as dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing (NHWSN), Linda McCauley has led the school at Emory University from No. 26 to its current position of No. 5 in U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Graduate Nursing Schools” guide. Running NHWSN like a “high-performing business,” Linda tracks metrics relentlessly to improve student experience and financial results, with a strategic plan that has positioned NHWSN at the forefront of nursing research and policy.

Linda’s leadership insights:

  1. Manage fear. Understand what stress does to your team, and ensure each person has a voice.
  2. Work through worst-case scenarios in strategy planning.
  3. Embrace the diverse perspectives of fellow leaders.
Tom Thill
San Antonio
CEO, AmeriVet Veterinary Partners
CE 3728 | Chair: Charles Marino
Vistage member since 2018
Impact Award

AmeriVet empowers veterinarians’ passion for caring for pets, by removing the weight of running the business. In just two years, CEO Tom Thill has grown AmeriVet from 5 to 1,156 employees, generating over $100M in revenue in 2019 alone.

“Know yourself first,” Tom says, when asked his advice to other CEOs building a business. “Discover what you’re great at, and put together a great team that fills your gaps.”

Tom’s other advice:

  1. Have achievable targets. Culture and values are important, but hitting your numbers is what enables the flexibility to look at culture and values.
  2. You are smarter than you think you are. Be bolder. Have more conviction in your decisions.
  3. Do not let perfection be the enemy of great.
Kirt Gilliland
San Diego
Owner, Gilliland Construction Management
SB 2334 | Chair: Rick Itzkowich
Vistage member since 2018
Impact Award

After 30 years in San Diego’s design and construction industry, driven by a passion to serve clients and have his own firm, Kirt made the bold decision to launch his business in 2015. His team has doubled in size this year and revenues are on pace to grow by nearly 75%.

Since joining Vistage, Kirt has reduced his project management hours by 90%, so that he can work “on” instead of “in” the company, diversified clientele, and is putting a solid exit plan in place.

Kirt’s tips for exit planning:

  1. Make yourself  “obsolete.” Can your team run without you?
  2. Put clear systems in place. (Manuals, IT, etc.)
  3. Diversify clients to support longevity.
  4. Outsource if needed so all roles are covered.
Marc Iacona
President & CEO, Simcona Electronics Corporation
Executive Director, Co-Producer and Co-Owner, Rochester International Jazz Festival
CE 48 | Chair: Tom Merkel
Vistage member since 2012
Leadership Award

Marc Iacona is committed to establishing Rochester as a top cultural destination and business community. The Rochester International Jazz Festival is one of the largest of its kind worldwide, bringing in talented artists, hundreds of thousands of visitors, and millions of dollars to local businesses.

Asked what advice he’d give other leaders, Marc says, “Train yourself to have a servant-based leadership mentality, no matter whom you interact with.” His other advice:

  1. Do not make decisions based on ego or emotion.
  2. Engage with colleagues/mentors you trust.
  3. Invest your time in what you are passionate about.
  4. Never forget those that helped you achieve your dreams.
  5. Enjoy yourself along the way!
Donna Herrick
Owner & CEO, Divots
CE 3678 | Chair: Cathy Fitzhenry
Vistage member since 2010
Lifetime Achievement Award

“She is 100% an excellent example of servant leadership,” a Vistage peer says of Donna Herrick. With an award-winning inn, restaurants, brewery and more — Donna has channeled her passion for building into a community treasure.

A company fueled by creativity, Divots schedules time in weekly leadership meetings for free flow of “crazy ideas,” many of which have come to fruition. Asked her team’s secret, Donna says, “We’re all just ordinary people with a love for serving our guests.”

Donna’s CEO tips:

  1. Become a great listener.
  2. Initiate the conversation even when it’s not comfortable.
  3. Get the hard work done, then work on the things you enjoy.
  4. Be yourself — even when the world wants to make you into someone else.
Moira Weir
President & CEO, United Way of Greater Cincinnati
CE 325 | Chair: Jean Lauterbach
Vistage member since 2012
Leadership Award

Moira Weir finds courage in purpose. “It really gets down to the basic needs of human beings,” she says, reflecting on how her toughest decisions are driven by those she serves. Under Moira’s leadership, her team operates with compassion and humility, making families feel respected and honored.

Moira’s work with these families has brought clarity to her decision-making process. She explains, “If you are thinking about how best to deploy resources so that people can feed their children or find housing, it really makes you hone in on what are the essentials and what really matters.”

Moira’s leadership hacks:

  1. Don’t take everything so personally.
  2. Don’t make assumptions.
  3. Make time for self-care.
Mark Gaulin
President, PCI
CE 337 | Chair: Sharon Randaccio
Vistage member since 2018
Impact Award

Business-critical IT solutions to 100+ organizations and home to 20,000+ employees, PCI’s mission is to provide certainty in an uncertain world, and this is echoed in Mark’s Gaulin’s leadership. His passion for the
company is clear, it’s contagious, and it’s a difference-maker.

Here are some of Mark’s tips:

  1. Let each person know their voice matters.
  2. Become your team members’ cheerleader.
  3. Get complacency and mediocrity out.
  4. Establish accountability.
  5. Break challenges into workable pieces.

Mark took over as majority owner and president three years ago, and dove in to rebooting the company. Empowered by his Vistage group, he says, “I don’t feel I’ve even started yet, with accomplishing what is possible.”

Jeannie Deml
President & CEO, Enerquip LLC
CE 10024 | Chair: Fritz Jacobi
Vistage member since 2012
Leadership Award

“We don’t get do-overs,” says Jeannie Deml. “Challenges are where we have the opportunity to grow.” With Jeannie at the helm, Enerquip has more than doubled sales, its culture defined by a steadfast commitment to being extraordinary, even in adversity.

For Jeannie, extraordinary performance comes from extraordinary people. And the foundation is an extraordinary culture. Here is how she built one:

  1. Foster a safe space to talk. Look at issues objectively.
  2. Always bear in mind: “What is the next thing we need to work on, do better or uncover.”
  3. Create a culture playbook. (Enerquip’s has 31 fundamentals!)
  4. Build an environment where all are respected.
  5. Equally prioritize culture with profitability.
Alan Chaffee
CEO & Founder, Turning Point Consulting
CE 4807 | Chair: Kevin McKeown
Vistage member since 2017
Impact Award

After performing CFO duties for 100+ middle market companies, Alan Chaffee came to Vistage with a clear goal: Shift from working in the business, to working on it. “A culture of accountability has changed everything; our staff lives up to their commitments, to our clients, to the company’s culture and to themselves. They want to do a great job; it’s my responsibility to give them the best place to accomplish that.”

Alan’s learnings:

  1. Lead with definitive goals and expectations, follow up with accountability.
  2. Empower people with the knowledge that you trust them.
  3. Culture trumps all — informed by a clear mission and vision.

Turning Point is the Northwest’s leading CFO consulting practice.

Sue Pierce
Co-founder & CEO, FuseBox
CE 160 | Chair: Troy Rice
Vistage member since 2013
Leadership Award

CEO. Author. CPA. Wife. Mother. And, perhaps most poignantly, the daughter of a school teacher. Sue Pierce has channeled her passion for education into a business designed to save schools money, above all driven by what she calls, “leadership of self.” Through challenges others might find insurmountable, her strong faith has allowed her to achieve success by:

  1. Embracing challenging situations understanding that through them she is strengthened.
  2. Choosing to be responsible for life and not fall prey to the trap of being a victim.
  3. Remaining committed to the mantra: “Never stop growing. Never stop moving forward. Finish strong!”
  4. Choosing to persevere through hardship and use the experience to help others.
  5. Practicing servant leadership, offering hope and a path forward for every team member.
Don Bolin
CEO, VanTran Transformers
CE 5809 | Chair: Ken Jones
Vistage member since 2019
Impact Award

“We call it a 57-year-old start-up,” second-generation CEO Don Bolin says of VanTran Transformers. Growing up in and around the business, Don became CEO in 2016. He quickly brought together a team of industry veterans who shared his vision. “I knew I would need a team of ‘A Players’ to take the company to the next level.”

Actions Don took to succeed:

  1. Assemble a knowledgeable, passionate leadership team.
  2. Own your niche. As Don says, “Being a small, custom manufacturer, we excel at a different type of business than the big guys do… Our company is nimble and responsive, picking up on opportunities they can’t respond to.”
  3. Get as many mentors as you can, as early as you can, and never stop learning.
Trey Fly
President, Joe W. Fly Co., Inc.
CE 4943 | Chair: Ed Stillman
Vistage member since 2014
Leadership Award

Trey Fly has worked every role in his 54-year-old family business. From laborer to traveling salesman to now president and CEO, Trey has led Joe W. Fly Co., Inc. from mom-and-pop to the largest HVAC filter distributor and installer in Texas, grounded in core values of integrity, family, customer, quality and commitment.

Of his leadership success, Trey shares that delegation is essential. “I’ve learned it’s important to not put it all on my own shoulders,” he says.

His other lessons include:

  1. Surround yourself with good people. Allow them to make mistakes and empower them to make decisions.
  2. Cross-train your team across roles and departments.
  3. Give people ownership in the success of the business.
In their own words
My go-to leadership hack is...
“Give the whys. Tell employees and customers why.”
Kelly Solomon
CEO & Founder, Signature Coast Holdings
Leadership Award
“Start each day writing in a gratitude journal to ground your perspective.”
Jerry Kelsheimer
President/Principal Investor, Medic Management Group
Lifetime Achievement Award
“The first thing to do in the morning is not read your email, but to do cardio for at least 30 minutes.”
Jason Thomas
CEO, Intigral, Inc.
Impact Award
“A short pencil will give you a long memory. Write it down.”
Mark Lee
President, Baker Roofing Company
Lifetime Achievement Award
“Go into the office early, before anyone else is there, for some nice quiet time to reflect on the day ahead.”
Lance Schefers
CEO, Schefers Roofing Co.
Lifetime Achievement Award

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Create space to work on the business