Tim Rettig, President of Intrust IT, talks about why he is so passionate about making work fun for everyone and why he's signed a pledge along with 50 other Cincinnati businesses, vowing to not lay off any employees due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Episode with guest: Tim Rettig
President of Intrust IT
(This episode was recorded in August of 2021.)
Key Episode Take-Aways:
1. Layering Great Game practices on top of what we were already doing helped us to build ownership around the company and to also become more profitable. (click to jump to this topic below) We layered in Great Game of Business on top of that, which dovetailed in very well. And it really helped build ownership around the company helped us become a lot more profitable. The first year, we implemented the bonus structure that we did 5%, five or 6% was the bonus the first year 12% was the second year and a third year they hit 20%.
2. Not keeping employees in the dark helped to alleviate employees worrying about losing their job. (click to jump to this topic below) But still, we continued with the Great Game of Business. Numbers allowed the employees that were had a lot of anxiety around the pandemic, to not have to worry about their job and the fact that the business was viable, and things were going well.
3. Having fun planned team building events to help build company culture. (click to jump to this topic below) So, we try we do try to do team building events on a regular basis. So, we've rented the camp out, and everybody gets to bring their kids there and go canoeing, and they've got like a ropes course and hiking and BVs and all that kind of stuff. So something for them to bring their families out and eat together and hang out.
Continue scrolling to read the full episode transcription.
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Welcome to the "Change the Game" Podcast, where we share stories of open book management and highlight capitalism at its best. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the "Change the Game" podcast with special guest Tim Rettig. In this episode, Tim talks about why he is so passionate about making work fun for everyone and why he's signed a pledge along with 50 other Cincinnati businesses, vowing to not lay off any employees due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here's your host Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker.
Steve Baker 0:53
Welcome to the "Change the Game" Podcast where we are Changing the Game by doing business differently and highlighting stories of capitalism at its best. I'm Steve Baker and with me as always is Rich Armstrong, president of the Great Game of Business and co-author of our new book, Get in the Game. Hey Rich.
Rich Armstrong 1:15
Hey Steve, how are you today?
Steve Baker 1:17
I am exceptional because we have a very special guest today. Tim Rettig. Tim is the president of Intrust IT a company he started while he was a college student. And as a second-generation technology entrepreneur, Tim was probably born with this desire to inspire change in the world. And every day he's working and playing toward this goal finding and incorporating cutting edge business practices that led his clients to use technology to share data and connect him. Welcome to the podcast.
Tim Rettig 1:49
Thank you, Steve. I'm very excited to be here.
Steve Baker 1:51
Now awesome man. It's always great to interview folks in our community. But I don't know that everybody knows about Intrust IT. Can you talk about what you all do?
Tim Rettig 2:02
Sure, yeah, that'd be happy to. So as you said, I started the company while in college, but that was 29 years ago. So quite a while ago, 1992. So right when the internet was starting to take off. And what we do these days is primarily around cybersecurity and IT support for small, medium sized companies. So company that's got 50 employees, sophisticated enough that they need an IT department, but it's not in the budget for them to have a whole team of people working behind the scenes on their technology. So we provide that full team behind the scenes to help desk monitor all their systems and the cybersecurity experts that keep them all safe. So that's what we've been doing for many, many years. So we're very involved in cloud computing. And what we like what I like about the business is most of the companies we interact with, are very similar to the size and operation that we are. So not only are we talking about technology, a lot of times we wind up talking about Great Game of Business and all the other things that we do in our business that make us unique.
Steve Baker 3:07
Rich Armstrong 3:09
Hi, Tim. Thanks for joining us.
Tim Rettig 3:12
Thanks, Rich. Glad to be here.
Rich Armstrong 3:13
We know, it’s clear that you have a passion for the IT business, but from past conversations and hearing about your company certainly also like to make work fun. I'm curious about what some of your secrets are.
Tim Rettig 3:28
Well, I think that one of the biggest secrets we have, it's not that much of a secret is having a daily huddle. That's a really quick, fun, get together for everybody to kind of set the stage for the day. And it's usually five to 10 minutes long. And it's a lot of what's you know, some good news, some joking around with everybody. That way, especially now with everybody, majority of our guys now are working from home. So they all connected remotely, it allows us to all see each other and talk a little bit. And as well as since we're in it. It's you know, what is anything down this morning and what issues happened overnight that we need to discuss. But it's pretty quick. And we break out into smaller teams that maybe discuss the intricacies of the business. But the big point of that is to really kick things off for the morning. And it's modeled after if you go to Yahoo not go to YouTube and search for the 100 got junk huddle. They've got a quick like 5–10-minute huddle that they've recorded out there. And we pretty much follow that whole format. So that's one of the ways that we you know, kind of inject some energy into the day. But when we talk to our employees, one of our key values is happiness. And one of the things we talk to them about is, you know, a lot of times you can't control some situation, but you can control the story you're telling yourself in your head about whatever situation you're in. So if there's somebody you know, driving slow in front of you, if you tell yourself in your head that that person in front of you is driving slow on purpose to piss you off. Then you're gonna get upset and be mad at them. But if you tell yourself the story that that's a little lady who goes out, you know, once a week to go to the store, and that's the reason that she's driving slow, that's a totally different situation, it's the same exact situation, but in your head, it's different. And we have the same thing, when we have customers that call in when they're having computer problems, or whatever, we empathize with them. And we, you know, create that situation in our head that they're not calling in, and making this mistake to waste our time they're calling in for assistance, and that we are there to help them and you totally change the dynamic. And the other big thing is, you got to have some fun during the day. And a lot of communication things that we do are around, you know, little light heartedness, to kind of keep it light because business doesn't have to be serious. And, you know, boring every day. I mean, we deal with some pretty tough situations in the cybersecurity side of things. But in between the serious technology that we're dealing with, we also can have some fun with each other.
Rich Armstrong 6:07
Steve Baker 6:08
I love it. It is a choice, isn't it, Tim? I mean, if you go back, you're all the Guru's in the last 10 or 15 years or a way back 1000s of years to the stoics. It's all about we have a choice of how we judge things and situations. And I love that you're bringing that to your people, because it isn't something that we teach in our high schools and universities, that's for sure. I like that you're keeping a sense of humor, keeping it light. That certainly is a good way to lead. So you've got your daily huddle, you've got your good news, what's down? What are big issues? Tell me how does Great Game fit into that? Do you talk about financials every day? Or is it once a week? How does that fit your rhythm?
Tim Rettig 6:49
Yeah, so once a week, we do our huddle for Great Game of Business. So and the way that works is on its every Tuesday morning. So normally our huddle is about 10 minutes long. But on that morning, we compress things and choose the two to five minutes of the good news and that kind of stuff. And then the other five to 10 minutes is people reporting in their numbers for the P&L. And everybody in the company, almost everybody in the company at this point has a line item that they report in on for us to assemble our weekly P&L the projection of what it's going to look like at the end of the end of the week. So, we do that every single week, once a week, and then at the end of the month, we have a State of Intrust meeting. And it's an hour-long Lunch and Learn lunchtime thing that we do, we used to cater lunch in but now the working from home, whoever's in the office gets lunch and people at home join us remotely. And then we go through the details of the previous month's actuals versus what our forecast was. And then people report on different, more the details of what the differences were for the for the month, we do have daily numbers that we report in on the huddle. And those are like metrics, they're non-financial things. And we have mini games that we're working on, which again, are non-financial items that we're tracking.
Steve Baker 8:08
Okay, good. For clarity. I want to make sure I got this right as I'm taking some notes here. In your weekly Great Game huddle on Tuesday.
Tim Rettig 8:19
Steve Baker 8:20
Where are you forecasting? The end of the month?
Tim Rettig 8:22
Steve Baker 8:23
Okay. I just want to make sure I got that. Right. And then once a month, you do the State of Intrust?
Tim Rettig 8:27
Steve Baker 8:28
Gotcha. Cool. That's very cool. Thank you.
Rich Armstrong 8:31
Yeah, it is. I really like the cadence. But I like even more, how quick you're going through that information? Because I think a lot of people think that these huddles, especially financially driven, huddles need to be an hour, 90 minutes, two hours, maybe it starts out that way. But and I'm sure there's all kinds of tricks that you've used to try to keep it as short as you had the congratulations on that.
Tim Rettig 8:57
Yeah, it took us a while to get to that, to get to that point. And we started out with a whiteboard. That was just a normal whiteboard. And we had like, maybe six things on it that we reported in, and then over time, we started breaking that out. And now, before we started working more from home, our whiteboard is you know, 10 feet tall. If you were on the video, you can see behind me I have a picture of it in the conference room that I'm in, but that was everybody to get everybody with their own P&L line, it just became more and more. We're the size now that not everybody has a p&l line. And we're talking now about next year, having the actual on Mondays, having some of the teams get together. Everybody in that team has a p&l number they report in and then they consolidate that into a team number that they bring Tuesday to the meeting. So we're still working on all that for next year.
Rich Armstrong 9:54
Perfect, perfect. Well tell the listeners a little bit more about your journey. How did you get started with the Great Game of Business?
Tim Rettig 10:03
Sure. So my father started a software company in the 70s. So I grew up around computers. So that's why I started my company and college, because I had grown up around it. And he retired. He did an ESOP, about 16 years ago, so fully retired, transitioned the company ownership to his employees. I worked there through grade school, high school and college, and I started my own company totally separate from his, so we weren't connected in any way. And I decided that I also wanted to become an employee-owned company. And when I talked to him and kind of laid out, hey, I want to plan on doing this. What is something that you would do over again, and he said, well, the number one thing that he felt he fell short on was properly communicating the financials to the employees, you said that they went through did the ESOP after the ESOP now said to the employees, hey, you now are owners of the company, you're going to earn shares over time. And then, you know, he slowly transitioned out of the organization over about two-year period and then went on to become on the board for a couple of years, and then now is not involved at all. But he said over that period of about two years, trying to get them to understand how the company exactly made money and how they invest money. So they are a software company. And with a software company, a lot of times you are investing a lot of r&d and time into the next release. So he had years of experience of doing that. And trying to communicate that to the employees was difficult to do. They understood that they're going to lose some money for a period of time investing into the next release. So anyway, he told me about that. And I had heard about read the Great Game of Business book and thought it was interesting and something I wanted to do, but after telling him on something I had to do before I became an ESOP. So in 2012, I put a plan together for my team, and said, if we can hit these goals, that then we can become an ESOP in 2020. So we actually beat that goal, beat all the metrics I had laid out in 2018. And then we became an ESOP in 2019. So in that journey, I think in 2000, about 2014, we started Great Game of Business, we are self-implemented, and slowly rolled that out. And prior to Great Game of Business, we did the four dx, the four Disciplines of Execution,
Rich Armstrong 12:32
Tim Rettig 12:32
The Franklin Covey book. So that helped us find our non-financial metrics that we wanted to track and started getting people to talk about metrics, non-financial metrics. So that was kind of our first foray and metrics and setting goals. And we were doing MiniGames, and we didn't know we were doing MiniGames, we would just set something up, hey, we want to hit this goal. And then if we hit it, we're gonna have a celebration, some kind of party or whatever. And then
1. Layering Great Game practices on top of what we were already doing helped us to build ownership around the company and to also become more profitable.
we layered in Great Game of Business on top of that, which dovetailed in very well. And it really helped build ownership around the company helped us become a lot more profitable. The first year, we implemented the bonus structure that we did 5%, five or 6% was the bonus the first year 12% was the second year and a third year they hit 20%. Level 20. And that was huge. I mean, that was such a big accomplishment. So, they all bought into it then and everybody was excited about it.
Steve Baker 13:32
Wow, Level 20. Man, that's like, what is that, Rich? That's like 10, almost 11 weeks of pay. What are you socialists? Is this Europe, happening here? And how many openings you have Tim? So, I like what you said a second ago, which was you in, I'm talking about you, your journey to employee ownership. Yeah, Great Game went from something you wanted to do to something you had to do. And I'm curious about the role that Great Game has played in building your own culture of ownership.
Tim Rettig 14:10
Yeah, it's been interesting because we'll go to ESOP conferences, and there will be people complaining about, oh, we can't get buy in from the employees. They don't understand our finances and stuff. And we're like, Well, here's a real simple solution. Why don't you do Great Game of Business? Because we had that implemented well before the ESOP years before we did the ESOP. And these other companies are doing it after the fact because they're finding the need that so I would say it's pretty much a given that if you're going to do an ESOP do Great Game of Business now. You can do Great Game of Business and not doing ESOP those don't have to happen because of the fact that the way I look at it is an ESOPs is a long-term retirement benefit for employees. A lot of employees can't look that far they don't think they're ever going to retire. Heck, when I started the company, I never thought I would retire and because of the fact that they're getting those quarterly bonuses that gives them a short-term reward. And then the Aesop getting that yearly statement that shows what they owe and owning the company, that's a long term, you know, when they retire, either when they retire, when they leave the organization, or if the organization has ever bought, that's when they actually will realize that and there's some people, that's hard for them to conceptualize. Whereas getting that check every quarter as a bonus for Great Game of Business, something they can definitely realize sooner,
Steve Baker 15:33
Yeah, you’re putting the rewards as close to the behavior that earned the rewards as possible, I love that.
Tim Rettig 15:38
Exactly. Yeah. So, those two, those two things go together really well, the ESOP and the Great Game of Business bonus.
Steve Baker 15:44
So, I have a tag on question I have to ask, because we always hear the questions, you know, what was it like? or What is it like rather, when you have a new hire, or some great candidate that is a wicked, good technician? And then you go, oh, and by the way, we're going to teach you the financials. What's their reaction?
Tim Rettig 16:07
Sometimes, well, because it's an ESOP it is an easier conversation, like, hey, you're gonna own this company. So, you need to have visibility into what the company's making money, but we I think we lead more with the, hey, you are going to have this bonus every quarter, and is driven off the profitability of the company, and therefore you're gonna have visibility in our finances. And on our website, when people are applying, apply for a job, we talk a lot about the fact that we are open book and that we do a Great Game of Business, and that they're going to be expected to learn financial information. So, we don't get too much pushback, we did just acquire a company last week or three weeks ago, was the beginning of this month. And they sat in on our Tuesday meeting, for the first time our huddle. And we had neglected to tell them what was going on. Because we didn't it's such a natural thing for us to do now. And we don't think it's unusual. And all of a sudden, you know, we're switching gears, and everybody's reporting and all these numbers and talking about the profitability of the month and how things are looking at the end of the month. And, you know, they have to that they're like, what in the world was that? What are we talking about? So he had to explain to them a little bit about what that was and why we're doing it. So then they're like, Oh, that's really cool. Now I get it.
Steve Baker 17:24
So your plan is to integrate these cultures?
Tim Rettig 17:28
Steve Baker 17:29
Yeah. Got it.
Tim Rettig 17:30
Yeah, it takes a lot of time to when you've got it's so ingrained in us and it's so normal, it seems abnormal to have the finances hidden from the employees. And when some company, some employees, join our company, they are totally blown away by the conversations that we have and how you know how transparent all the numbers are to all the employees.
Rich Armstrong 17:52
Yeah, that's me. I like the strategy. Tim, baptism by fire just throw them in the huddle after you acquired, yeah. Well, Tim, is just shifting gears just a little bit. You are kind of still, unfortunately, right in the middle of a pandemic. I was curious how you've kind of managed through this in your company.
Tim Rettig 18:15
Yeah. So luckily, the industry that we're in, actually benefited from people going and working from home because there was a lot more need for our services to transition, some companies still had not the best technology to allow them to work easily from home. So we were extremely busy at the beginning of last year, March, April, May timeframe, trying to transition companies to work from home, we already were set up to work from home, we had people that work from home on a regular basis, they would you know, a couple of days a week, they would work from home. So for us, our operations weren't affected. But we were really busy helping our clients out. So that was that benefited us. Luckily, now on we did have some parts of the company that like we had salespeople that weren't very busy for a few months, because they had difficulty setting up meetings. People just didn't want to change what they were doing. So if they had an IT provider that was at least answering the phone and helping them out, they had no interest in talking, or changing services or whatever. So, our salespeople weren't busy. You know, we had some staff that were managed the office and dealt with equipment and shipments and that kind of stuff. So we had an opportunity and could have laid those people off. But we signed a pledge, along with about 50 other businesses in the Cincinnati area that it was a no layoff pledge. And some of that was because of the PPP money we're like this is money from the government specifically so that we don't lay people off. So, we signed that agreement that nobody would leave a nobody will be laid off. And it helped the employees to see that now summer project work was done in some of the other sales weren't going the way we wanted to. So, it wasn't like we had our business took off like some other companies I know, was good for us, but not terrific. And it was a struggle. They're paying some of the people that didn't have all that much to do.
2. Not keeping employees in the dark helped to alleviate employees worrying about losing their job.
But still, we continued with the Great Game of Business. Numbers allowed the employees that were had a lot of anxiety around the pandemic, to not have to worry about their job and the fact that the business was viable, and things were going well. So, I think it helped them with that we did hit throughout the course of the year, our numbers started to retract, and we didn't hit the bonuses that we expected towards the end of the year. So that was disappointing for people. But we still, you know, had good business for the year. So in this year, we're back in working really well now. So number wise and hire, we just hired seven people over the past 60 days. And those were all additive, no replacements that was just growth of needing to add seven more people.
Steve Baker 21:04
Wow, I love that.
Rich Armstrong 21:06
That is really interesting. How did the pack? How did that all come together? That's kind of interesting to me is that you would have that kind of collaboration among businesses in Cincinnati.
Tim Rettig 21:19
So, I've got a, I'm part of an entrepreneur’s organization, EO. And I meet with a group of entrepreneurs on a monthly basis for half a day to discuss strategy and other things. Now that transitioned to being online and virtual during that period of time, but I can't take credit for that. So, there's another company in town, similar name, info trust. So they do data analytics, they don't do anything near what we do. But I'm in a group with him, Alex Jestrapanencki and that’s a tongue twister. And he came up with this idea or somebody else did, I don't know exactly how it started this grassroots thing, that they would sign this pledge to not lay off any employees. And it was around just giving employees even if they weren't running Great Game of Business, or a lot of companies not running Great Game of Business, the employees didn't know if they were going to keep their job or not. So it allowed them to sign the pledge. It was an article and a website that was set up, there was an article on a business courier and a website that was set up around it. So just a way to communicate let people know that your employers got your back.
Rich Armstrong 22:28
That's really interesting. I mean, just the, you know, the commitment, you know, and, you know, taking it seriously, but also, you know, the ability of just taking the fear out of the situation for the employees is just that's an it's a real practical way of doing that. I had not heard that before. That was pretty cool.
Tim Rettig 22:47
Yeah, there. I mean, if you empathize with the employee, and they are, we had a guy that moved here from Idaho, the first week of March last year, like right when the pandemic started, he moved here because he wanted to be in a city with more things to do and more things going on. And he moves here into like a one-bedroom apartment, and he's stuck in his one-bedroom apartment looking at four walls with no pictures, a bed and a desk and you know, walking 15 feet from his desk through his bed every day. So you don't get the normal water cooler conversations and you're not in the energy of the office and everything and you're not sure exactly what's happening at the company. And Heck, I had some difficult times during that period as well and his manager did as well I mean, we were all going through a lot of different thoughts and feelings during that time but he it allowed them to when they can't really know what's going on with the company to know Okay, they they've pledged that nobody's gonna get laid off I've moved here all the way from Idaho in a brand new position do they really need me or not? And we said no, you are we pledge publicly that we're going to employ you I think it was like to the end of the year or something like that.
Steve Baker 24:01
That is amazing. It's almost like I can only imagine I mean especially Idaho you know, it's like I went from that to these 15 feet walk you've just described I think you put him in prison if I'm not mistaken.
Tim Rettig 24:15
Exactly. That's what he probably felt like during that period of time. So yeah, during this summer we've had a whole bunch of like happy hours and we had a barbecue outside and some other things and he showed up every single one of those like man had to get out of the apartment and see some people
Steve Baker 24:34
So, well that was probably fun for everybody just to get you know it is great to see one another again in person and we're excited about you know, the conference coming up getting to see a lot of people in Dallas. Are there any other things like you mentioned, the happy hours and the barbecues and things like that and of course you got your daily huddles to keep the connection up. Any other tips that you came up with or things that really work to kind of not just survive, but thrive in this, you know, Weird COVID world.
3.Having fun planned team building events to help build company culture.
Tim Rettig 25:02
So, we try we do try to do team building events on a regular basis. So, we have one tomorrow. It's a family fun day. So we are going to there's a camp nearby that shut down now for the season. So, it's a date. It's a sleepaway camp. So, they have all kinds of activities and canoeing and all that kind of stuff, and they'll let you rent out the whole camp for the day. So, we've rented the camp out, and everybody gets to bring their kids there and go canoeing, and they've got like a ropes course and hiking and BVs and all that kind of stuff. So something for them to bring their families out and eat together and hang out. So, that's one thing we do with families. And then about four hours away from us and West Virginia is some of the best whitewater rafting in the nation around the world. So, every year every two years or so we take a group there for a weekend getaway, so any employees allowed to go, and we'll go whitewater rafting, so we drive there Friday, stay in cabins. So, we have cooked you know have get around a campfire that evening or whatever. Go whitewater rafting on Saturday, come back to the cabins for dinner and campfire again and then drive home on Sunday. So, just something different. We got a lot of younger boys started doing this. It was a lot of younger people now we have older. We used to do it every single year because it was a lot of single younger people. But as people got families less and less people could go or were able to go on the whitewater rafting, so we added in. We changed it every other year and added in the Family Fun Day on the off years. So something different to do.
Steve Baker 26:38
So, you're going to a closed sleepaway camp. Do you have any employees named Jason?
Tim Rettig 26:44
We do not, no. Yeah. We have five mats though. I don't know of any movie, but
Steve Baker 26:52
I don't want it to turn into some sort of a you know, Halloween movie or something?
Tim Rettig 26:55
I hope not. It's during the day, so it's not creepy. It's only during the day.
Rich Armstrong 27:02
I was always nervous just taking our team out canoeing again. Imagine white water rafting.
Tim Rettig 27:08
Okay, alright, so I have the best story about this. So this was about six years ago, we hired a new woman in our accounting department. And she was moving here from South Carolina. And the way it worked out that went the day she started was the Monday after the whitewater rafting, that's when she was going to start and to be nice. We said, hey, we're all going whitewater rafting this weekend before you start. If you're driving up here, you know, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday beforehand anyway to move. And you don't have anything going on the weekend. You can join us, and we thought there's no way that she's going to join us all these people that she doesn't know and a new city in? She said yes. So she left at like 4am on Friday drove all the way to Ohio where our office is at and with all our stuff. And then she gets in a 12-passenger van with all these people she's never met in our life except for a couple of people that she got interviewed and then drove to West Virginia four hours 4-5 hours to go whitewater rafting and on the way, we are talking and found out she can't even swim she doesn't know how to swim.
Steve Baker 28:26
Wow, the ultimate trust fall.
Tim Rettig 28:29
Exactly. So, we get to the first, second rapid the first wrap it's kind of small, she's in the boat with me and along with it was a six-person boat and a guide so we get to the second rapid at the beginning of it and the guy said this is a swimmer rapid it's small enough that if you want you can get out of the boat and just float through it. And we all said OKAY, and you know you could choose to get in and out, so everybody got in the water except her she stayed in the boat. Because she did not swim, that's fine. And then at the last minute she decides, hey, I'm here I've said yes to everything in my life. I'm gonna get in the water so she hops overboard at the last minute. And she had never had like a life vest on and didn't know that it doesn't hold you up like at chest level like the waters up to your neck. So she starts freaking out and tries grabbing for the boat and the guy doesn't like because we're like coming up on the rapid slowly the guide is like with his paddle pushing her away from the boat like get away from the boat get away from the boat because he doesn't want the boat to go over top of her through the rapid, I can't swim I can't swim. So, I swim over to her, and we have this on video I swam over to her and pulled her away from the boat and helped hold her up as we go through the rapid so that she didn't freak out too much. Yeah, so
Steve Baker 29:53
Wow. You're literally supporting your employees.
Tim Rettig 29:56
Rich Armstrong 29:57
I’m seeing a bit of pattern here Tim on this Baptism by fire by introducing people to your company in weird ways.
Tim Rettig 30:07
He's still an employee. And funds Fun fact, she also wind-up dating and married one of our engineers.
Rich Armstrong 30:14
So, we have the happy ending. Yeah.
Steve Baker 30:18
I can see floating down the rapids holding up all the way going. Trust is our middle name.
Rich Armstrong 30:28
So, what's next for Intrust IT?
Tim Rettig 30:31
So, we've done three acquisitions so far this year. So, that is one of the big things that we don't have any plans for at least another year. We need to digest those and incorporate those all into our operations and everything. So that's one of the big things I have on our kind of timeline that I will be transitioning. We're a 30% ESOP right now. We'll be transitioning to 100%, EOSP, and about the next five years is the plan. There'll be additional acquisitions that we'll do, and I'm sure after that, of the way, a lot of ESOP's operators, they'll continue the will continue the operation that way. So, what I'm doing the reason I'm transitioning out is I am looking to acquire other companies in other industries, with the purpose of turning them into ESOP's. So, in fact, I started that last year, right before the pandemic, actually, in February of last year, I bought us industrial staffing company totally separate from interest, specifically to scale it and turn it into an employee-owned company. So, and I've got some other entrepreneurs, and there's some other organizations out there that are attempting to do this, you know, to help with income inequality, and drive more employee ownership in the state.
Rich Armstrong 31:56
Steve Baker 31:57
That's great. Well, Tim, we always ask this Oprah question, we just like to ask that. The last question being, what is the one question we ought to be asking you?
Tim Rettig 32:10
The one? Well, that was a good one. Let's see. What would what's the one question you asked me what I'm doing where we're headed in the future, which is a great one. So probably a little bit more around employee ownership, maybe. So oh, I've got a good one, you could ask me. So, as I mentioned, my father did an ESOP. So I saw how well that worked out for him, because his company is as a software development company, in a little town called Lebanon, Ohio, which is like a suburb of Cincinnati. When he was getting ready to retire, all the companies that he talked to about acquiring his company, we're all planning on pretty much buying it just for the customer list. And the software employees that work there are going to be given the option to move to wherever the headquarters of the larger company would be. But it would pretty much ruin the, you know, higher paying great jobs that were there in the local economy. And he didn't like that. And the fact that he knew that his employees would, you know, mostly lose their job if they didn't want to move to New York, or San Francisco or whatever. So I saw that, and I thought I saw how great it was how well worked out for him to leave that legacy of employee ownership. But I had another experience that also drove that home for me. So one of my company's one of my clients, I'm sorry. So a client of mine, they were like a billion dollar your company, they acquired companies on a regular basis. They contacted me, this was about 16-15 years ago, like right around when my dad was doing his ESOP, but they contacted me and they said, hey, we're getting ready to buy this company in Texas. And we are normally they would, when they bought a company, they'd let it operate for a year or so before they would start integrating it in their systems. But they said their IT systems are so bad, we need to cut them over to all of our stuff right away all our software. So I said that sounds great. We put a plan together. I flew a team down there I was part of that team to Texas. And with all the equipment got shipped into a nearby hotel, we staged everything in a hotel. The transaction happened on a Friday company was acquired. They then gave us access into the property Friday night. We worked all weekend putting all the systems in set up their conference room to be a training facility and everything with a plan of Monday morning the employees would come in and we would like train them on their new software. And then my client also sent a couple people from another nearby location into man the phones and kind of help out during the transition. Monday morning rolled around. All the employees walked in the door, and nobody had told them this was happening. They had no clue that the company had been sold, why we were there? What was going on? They had no either pattern. Yeah. And I was like, they were asking me questions about what are the what's up with our 401k? You know, what about health insurance and all these questions and we're like, I'm just an IT subcontractor. I don't even work for the company; I can't answer these questions for you. And they're like, well, I'm gonna go talk to Bob, Bob is the owner. So they went back to his office and open the door, and all of his personal stuff was gone, Bob had just left town, totally just left them high and dry. Everything, you know, there are a couple of people they're upset talking to me, they're like, they expected to be able to buy the company from Bob or be, you know, at least discuss who they're going to sell it to, you know, they had it was a, the company is a corrugated pipe manufacturer. So, there's an office with about 20 people operating in it doing sales and accounting and that kind of stuff. And then there's no 50 to 100 people that are out and actually doing the manufacturing and shipping and all that kind of stuff out in the yard, multi, many acres yard. So, they all heard about it. And it became a big deal. So, I spent the whole week there, training them hearing their stories. I mean, it was heartbreaking. And to this day, I don't know if Bob the owner, left town because he was embarrassed because he couldn't keep the company afloat, and it was gonna go bankrupt. And he had to sell it. I mean, looking at the IT technology. And I wouldn't be surprised if that was why. Or if he was just milking it for all the money he could and made out like a bandit and was embarrassed that he couldn't share him any of it was employees and left town. Both of those are very feasible. Reasons why he did that. But I came back from that experience after sitting there for a week with them. Like I would never, I never want to have any employee ever go through that any. But if there's anything I can do to prevent that from happening, I definitely would. And from that experience, and what my father went through, I'm like, the ESOP is, I think a great way for employee ownership employees to actually earn ownership in a company through the sweat of their brow rather than having to, you know, finance their house or whatever they are start off with a lot of money so that they can invest in the company they work for. So those are the two primary reasons or the main reasons I did that.
Steve Baker 37:22
Moving story, I mean, we need to hear those stories, and we need to share them because we're all after the same thing to not do that.
Tim Rettig 37:32
Well, it's I joke about the companies we just acquired, but we spend a lot of time talking to them and explaining what's happening. And the fact that they're going to be owners, they're going to earn ownership in the company that just acquired them. And the people that were acquiring them from are retiring. I mean, they have to do something with these organizations. And when we approached them to buy the company, that's a big conversation, they're always concerned about their employees, their clients, how are they going to be treated, make sure they're treated fairly, make sure the benefits and everything that we are offering are at or exceed the level that they have. So we make sure that they know all that information from day one, so they can feel good there. There's always concern and weirdness about being acquired by another company and this new culture that rattles off numbers every Tuesday for no apparent reason. But once they understand what's going on, they definitely can see the value in it.
Steve Baker 38:24
Oh, my gosh, love it. Well, Tim, it's been great having you on now I tried to take notes of the nuggets, the big takeaways, I'm going to run down this list, you tell me what I missed. So first of all, you've got a dispersed workforce. And a lot of our listeners asked that question, how do I do it? And what we've heard you say was that quick daily huddle on the metrics, and some good news what's up? What's down? What are the issues, a weekly financial Great Game huddle on Tuesdays works for you and a monthly State of Intrust? You also talked about one of the things that caught my ear was the core value of happiness, which I thought was really neat, because it is a choice. You got to keep it light. Here's the takeaway for everybody that listens to this for the rest of eternity. A high-tech company has a 10-foot-high whiteboard. That is their score is a huge takeaway. I love object permanence. I also like this because as the company has grown, your structure has changed a little bit. So everybody still owns a line item. But the line-item ownership might be at a team level that rolls up into the team p&l, which then rolls up all the teams into the company wide. So that's a neat structure. Very good, simple way to make sure everybody's still feeling that ownership. You also pointed out that being an employee-owned company, ownership needs to be taught and that Great Game went from something you wanted to do to something you had to do. And I totally paraphrasing this, but if you're thinking about going to an employee stock ownership Programming ESOP, or some form of broad-based employee ownership, you better make them businesspeople before you make them owners would be your preferred way. Only a few more do you let these are your nuggets Baby, you do a really good job of aligning your short term and long-term goals and putting the rewards as close to the behavior that earned the rewards as possible. Another paraphrase was great leaders use knowledge to take fear and uncertainty out of the organization. You've done that beautifully during the pandemic. And then a lot around the team building and happy hours, barbecues, Family Fun days, keeping it fun is a choice as well. And then finally, I got you know, if I had a hat, it would be off this mission to acquire and scale and convert companies into employee-owned companies to help close the gap between the haves and have nots. I think that is amazing. So, Tim, really appreciate it. Great to have you on the podcast.
Tim Rettig 41:03
Thanks. It was great being here. glad you were able to get all those nuggets out of me. So, I appreciate that. Thanks. Thanks Steve.
Steve Baker 41:11
Good, we'll look forward to seeing you hopefully and in Dallas at the conference.
Tim Rettig 41:16
Or virtually I think, right?
Steve Baker 41:18
Oh, yeah, can do dollar check. It's great to see you. Thanks Again, Tim Rettig of Intrust IT. So folks, let's keep the conversation going. Send us your questions, your stories, those best practices and ideas, your challenges, and your victories. That's capitalism at its best. Thanks for joining us and we'll see you next time.
The "Change the Game" Podcast is produced by the Great Game of Business. To learn more, visit greatgame.com.
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