Steering Clear of Entitlement

Posted by Darein Gandall on Sep 7, 2021 10:15:00 AM

Darein Gandall, President at Cisco-Eagle, joins to talk about how Cisco-Eagle is careful not to be money drunk, why huddles are so important to their team, and how Minigames have helped to get them through the pandemic.

Click to Listen

Steering Clear of Entitlement


Episode with guest: Darein Gandall

President at Cisco-Eagle

(This episode was recorded in August of 2021.)


Key Episode Take-Aways:

1. One of big benefits of playing the Game is that nothing is really a surprise. Everyone knows what is going on with the company.  (click to jump to this topic below)  That's one of the big benefits of having a huddle, and the Great Game of Business is nothing's really a surprise. You come in, you know exactly what you're going to do to affect the bottom line during the day. And when you go to the huddle, you know exactly what's going on within the company. And I tell you, I think you know, when, when the times are hard, like I said earlier, the COVID hit, the huddles were a godsend. I mean, there really was a way of keeping everybody together.

2. Using the practice of MiniGames to help sort through different issues. (click to jump to this topic below)  We use minigames to us are a way of sorting out an issue that's costing us money or improving a process that is already make us money that can be made better. We have had several games throughout the years, and some keep on going. Like we did the wellness challenge, and which is basically a not really a company thing for monetary reasons, but for health reasons for our employee owners, you know, the better off healthier, you are, the more you have to come to work.

3. The Great Game of Business has allowed everyone to be on the same page in the business. Having the ability to bring everybody together with the same mindset is incredibly great for the company. (click to jump to this topic below)  The Great Game was just, you know, something that the owners were bringing in as one more thing just to the employees had to learn, you know, just change, change, change. And now it's looked upon as if we didn't have this, we wouldn’t know what the left hand was doing. I mean, it's just, it's amazing. The ability to bring everybody together with the same mindset as far as financial goes is incredibly great for the company.


Continue scrolling to read the full episode transcription.

Announcer 0:03

The "Change the Game" Podcast is sponsored by Prairie Capital Advisors, helping businesses think forward. For more information visit That's prairie

Announcer 0:23

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 guests Darein Gandall. In this episode Rich, Steve, and Darein talk about how Cisco-Eagle is careful not to be money drunk. Why huddles are so important to their team, and how mini games has helped to get them through the pandemic. Here's your hosts, Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker.

Steve Baker 0:54

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 is Rich Armstrong, president of the Great Game of Business and co-author of our new book, Get in the Game. Hey, Rich, how are you today?

Rich Armstrong 1:14

I'm good. Steve, how are you?

Steve Baker 1:16

I'm Excellent. Thank you. I am very excited about who we're talking to today, we got a special guest, Darein Gandall, the President and COO of Cisco-Eagle, Cisco-Eagle engineers and installs material handling and safety systems for distribution centers around the world. In fact, their digital and e commerce presence are widely regarded as groundbreaking in the industry, as a rich cultural systems like Great Game of Business and employee ownership. Darein himself grew up in the business and has led it since 2012. Baron, welcome to the podcast.

Darein Gandall 1:51

Thank you for having me, Steve. Appreciate it.

Steve Baker 1:53

Yeah, absolutely. So you guys have hit a real milestone last year, in 2020, you've turned 50, I mean, the company. And I'm wondering if you could share a little bit about the business and the history of the company.

Darein Gandall 2:07

Sure. My dad started the business in 1970. And it was basically a rack of material around rack and shelving company case, mezzanine sold a forklift to, you know, one or two here, there. But in the late 70s, early 80s, automation, kind of piqued his interest, and he got into the conveyor side of it. And we did our first real automation job with a company called Kwik Trip, who I'm sure you're familiar with,

Steve Baker 2:36


Darein Gandall 2:37
It's a little over a million dollars. And the engineer or the two engineers that worked on it had a stack of drawings before AutoCAD, so they're doing all by hand. And so, you know, you turn over 300 pages of drawings to the customer, only to have them come back and you have to correct or have to go through and redo you know, 75 to 100 of them. That takes some time, you know , but thankfully, the computer generation and technology has caught up with us and has really pushed us into, you know, larger systems and larger automation. So, and I 95, we started out I'm sorry, 74 of Cisco, or Eagle material handling. And then in 1985, we bought Cisco material handling down in Dallas, Texas, we incorporated them and made Cisco-Eagle Incorporated, for lack of better term. About 21 years ago, my dad and his partner decided that they want to give the company to the employees, who basically gave them the life that they have now and wanted them all to appreciate what it's like to be an employee owner. Therefore, we, before we could do that, they thought our folks got to know about the financials, they got to understand what drives the business. And therefore, we sent a number of our steering team members to the Great Game of Business school, and I believe is a three-day deal, Steve, and they came back. And for the next year and a half, maybe two years. We ate drank and lived Great Game of Business. It was constant training. It was exciting. It was really cool to see what was going on, and how I affected, you know, the changes in the business and the bottom line. And so, you know, 21 years later as an ESOP as an employee own company, 100% we, I'm happy to say that we have 135 employees now and there's not a one on that does not understand the Great Game.

Steve Baker 4:49

That's impressive. That is the way you want it.

Darein Gandall 4:51


Rich Armstrong 4:53

Yeah, that's fantastic. Well, thanks again Darein, for joining us. You mentioned about the employee ownership interest. thing that maybe the audience didn't catch is that you actually started teaching your people about the business and getting them to think and act like owners before you made that transition.

Darein Gandall 5:10

That is correct.

Rich Armstrong 5:11

What was your thinking there? I mean, what, you know, how did how did you get that started? Can you talk a little bit more about why that made a difference in the transition? Maybe?

Darein Gandall 5:22

You know, I, I'm glad you asked that question. So I talked to my dad earlier today. And so you know, but how did we, how did you guys come about? Then he said, well, you know, when I took over, when I started the business, I didn't, I knew racking shelving, but I didn't know much about the financials. And then his, one of his best friends from elementary, junior high in high school, and college shows up and says, hey, you know, I can run the financial side of it. And, you know, when they started thinking about turning the company over to the employees, they thought, you know, we had a hard time. You know, even though I was lucky to have bill, you know, as CFO, it took a long time for him to understand the financial piece of the business. And he thought that there's an easier way. And if we were going to take over the company, or give the company to the employee owners, then they know exactly what they're doing and what they're looking at. So therefore, you know the years and years of training have led to our huddles, and things like that, that everybody owns a line item somewhere on the balance sheet and income statement, and we discuss them. If you're a 5%. Either way, then you got some explaining to do. And it really is kind of fun sometimes, because there's our IT group is sensational. I mean, they rarely Miss either way. 2%, right. Well, last month, they missed by seven and a half percent. Everybody chimed in, it was absolutely hilarious. And I mean, it's all miss bill or something like that. But it was it was entertaining as hell.

Steve Baker 6:52

Love it.

Rich Armstrong 6:53

Hold each other accountable? Yeah. That's great. Just a quick little follow up question of what was some of the reasons behind your dad's decision to go employee ownership? Because that's not something that most companies are comfortable with? Yeah, he sounds like a weirdo. Darein.

Darein Gandall 7:16

Yeah. You know, I'll tell you, it's kind of funny, you know, he that we call Cisco-Eagle family. And, you know, he wanted to give back to everybody that had got him to where he and Bill are today. And he figured the best way to do that would be to turn the company over to the employee owners. And it was met with a lot of excitement. It really was. We do a stock reveal every year. And last year, it went up from like $10 to $20.10. And that was our best fiscal year ever. And the year before, that was our best fiscal year ever. And this this fiscal year, we transfer that. And we're done to the stock reveal on Friday at 9am. And they're going to be some very, very happy employee owners.

Rich Armstrong 8:14

Wow, very excited.

Darein Gandall 8:17

Call me on Friday, and I'll let you know what we do.

Steve Baker 8:24

So, let's get real about that. Darein let's get real about that. So you have year upon year upon year of successful growth in the stock price.

Darein Gandall 8:33


Steve Baker 8:34

What are you doing to set realistic expectations for the future for your employee owners? Because, you know, entitlement can sneak in anywhere. Right?

Darein Gandall 8:44

You got it. You know, I read an article the other day, the ABCs of failing business, it's you know it's crazy. It's a I've totally forgot, hold on a second. Oh, my. I knew as soon as I did that, I was gonna forget it, but I'll come back to it anyway. Okay, well,

Rich Armstrong 9:05

No problem.

Darein Gandall 9:06

You know, I'll tell you, you're passing out buckets on a regular basis now. And one of the things I'm worried about is complacency. Because, you know, it's not uncommon now to do five bucket bonuses. And we've done it as many as 10. And, you know, last year, we paid I think 36 bonuses, and this year, we're on track to pay I think 45 that it, you know, what's kind of concerning is when you're in the huddle, and you see tell people five buckets, and you know, there's some people that just absolutely, yes, the best thing ever, right. And their son, they're just kind of gotten used to it, you know, just like I expected him every day, you know, every two buckets like oh, God like no, that's not the point. You know, so sometimes you get called money drunk Yeah. And we start expecting some you start forgetting things. And you know that huddle really brings things back together. And it is kind of hit and miss, I guess, you know? Yeah, depending on what the flavor of the day is or what everybody's feeling, especially during the COVID. You know, it's kind of hard to gauge anybody's rations, because you couldn't see their faces, most of the huddles, we did were by zoom, and people remote. And now we got people coming back in or back in. It's a little different.

Rich Armstrong 10:34

It's interesting, you bring that up Darein. And because I think for some of our audience that may not be, you know, have not implemented a Great Game yet or haven't seen the impact of bonus programs, like you have, is that the entitlement can build up. But that's how the I was curious. The what you think about the importance of, and I think you mentioned that the huddles bringing it back into check, right, meaning that they know where that's coming from. So it's hard for them to if it went the other way, hopefully it never does. They at least know where that's coming from right. Read

Darein Gandall 11:13


Rich Armstrong 11:14

Questionary type bonus.

Darein Gandall 11:15

Yeah, exactly. It's not a surprise. I mean, you can see coming. And when you see a comment, you can make adjustments before that before it hits. And that's,

1. One of big benefits of playing the Game is that nothing is really a surprise. Everyone knows what is going on with the company.

that's one of the big benefits of having a huddle, and the Great Game of Business is nothing's really a surprise. You come in, you know exactly what you're going to do to affect the bottom line during the day. And when you go to the huddle, you know exactly what's going on within the company. And I tell you, I think you know, when, when the times are hard, like I said earlier, the COVID hit, the huddles were a godsend. I mean, there really was a way of keeping everybody together. And when we kind of did that ci radio, it kind of added an exclamation point to the huddle. And I think that is kind of what was really driving more, more attendance and participation. And without it, you know, we're just a company with 135 employees work from home hoping we get our shit, right. Right on my flesh. But that's no,

Steve Baker 12:13

Well, it's terrifying.

Darein Gandall 12:16

It is indeed.

Steve Baker 12:17

But having the right people is so important. I wondered if you could talk a little bit about the idea of you know, number one, you're obviously very successful, and you've been bonusing. That's one way to attract and retain people. But you know, an employee ownership. Specifically ESOP, and employee stock ownership plan is a longer-term game. And how has that impacted your ability to attract and retain employees, the ESOP?

Darein Gandall 12:48

I will tell you, when I first took over our share was right around $2.34 and dropped from 11, when they first put it in play, which it dropped down to six. And then, for 10 years straight, we had we had the financial, the 2001, and then the financial crisis in 2008. And it really, really made us watch our dimes, and with mini games being put in place, that really, really helped us through. Because, you know what used to be a silly game, you know, when you're making a lot of money was all of a sudden important, because you don't want to lose, you know what little you have. And, you know, we took it over, we kind of we really started pushing the ESOP model, and it was selling it as a benefit when people came in. And a lot of people were hiring were younger folks. It's kinda like the 401k. They're like, and whatever. But the guys my age, you know, the 40-year-old guys, they're like, hey, I see the benefit in this. This is really cool, especially, you know, looking at the stock value now, that goes to this number of shares in their bank cover their holdings. And it's incredible. It's absolute incredible. I'll be surprised this year, if we don't have, I'd say probably 20% of our company, turn instant millionaires, because the stock back. Wow, yeah, it's

Steve Baker 14:09

Just crazy. So we're hearing more and more of that these days, and just something for our listeners. I am certain that Darein's team is capturing those people's stories, because those are your legends that you can use to influence your younger people. It's not about retirement, it's about wealth generation, and we got to hear those stories because when they leave, they leave.

Darein Gandall 14:35

Absolutely. You know, the story. One story I had is particularly close to me is dear to me. He said, years ago I took over I had a person come in approached me for a loan, or kind of got upside down their car payment and their credit cards. I said, hey, you know, once if I do this, which I won't, I said if I do this, I become a bank. And if you can't pay the bank now How you go pay me? And they said, Yeah, you're right. Well, they just did a diversification of their stuff. This is eight years ago. And so they did a diversification of their stock and paid off their credit cards, their car and their mortgage. And she came and told me, dinner cried. It was, it was what, what it's what's all about? And she still has, he still has stock left over. And it's fantastic. I could go on and tell you 15 stories like that. But you know, you really get involved in the Great Game of Business and you take it home, and you want your finances at home, which was you know, I thought hell this is to work thing, right? And when I took it home, I was talking to my wife about it, she got real interested. And so unbeknownst to me, she did her own little game about how she's going to cut my spending and things like that and maintain hers. It was great.

Rich Armstrong 15:58

Everybody's got their mini games don’t they.

Darein Gandall 16:02

This is one I did not want to participate in.

Rich Armstrong 16:06

You did you mentioned briefly about mini games, and there's probably a lot of people on this listening in it may not know a lot about minigames Can you explain what those are and how you guys have used them within Cisco-Eagle?

Darein Gandall 16:22


2.Using the practice of MiniGames to help sort through different issues.

we use minigames to us are a way of sorting out an issue that's costing us money or improving a process that is already make us money that can be made better. We have had several games throughout the years, and some keep on going. Like we did the wellness challenge, and which is basically a not really a company thing for monetary reasons, but for health reasons for our employee owners, you know, the better off healthier, you are, the more you have to come to work. And so, we use those games, you know, on a personal level, as well as the business level. And we do that we did a we're trying to drive our margins from 26 to 28% to 30. And so we put them on a mountain climber game for our sales folks and inside sales folks. And we tracked the sales the wholesale community on how they were and how and what they were doing to increase those margins. And when you increase those margins and still keep your expenses in line, you know the bottom line which we base our bucket bonuses off the net operating income and so when we hit those numbers the bonuses get better and when I took over our NOI percentage was probably 2% and now it's at 16 which is a huge shout out to all my folks they're really watching their expenses and they're doing things right the first time most importantly

Rich Armstrong 17:58

I think that's good, and you mentioned also the just a little quick follow up about sometimes their monetary sometimes they're going to fix a process but sometimes they are maybe fixing or enhancing a cultural change, right. Like You I read in a recent case study that we had, by the way. Congrats on being on the all-star team this year. And

Darein Gandall 18:22
Thank you, thank you

Rich Armstrong 18:23

Great Game

Darein Gandall 18:24

Very cool.

Rich Armstrong 18:26

But you there was two of them that you highlighted that I think we're both kind of cultural, like Knowledge is Power and the GGOB Bingo. Can you talk a little bit about those?

Darein Gandall 18:37

Yeah, Knowledge is Power was, or Knowledge is Power was put together for the newer folks to get engaged in Great Game of Business, as well as the older folks like myself who've been in it to get touchups from time to time. We reward those people with little trinkets and things like that, that were kind of not mean not really expensive, but they mean something, you know, like we gave out trophies for the step-by-step program in the wellness program. If you hit certain milestones throughout the year or throughout the game, then you were recognized you got a trophy. Right now we're doing one to increase communication amongst the employee owners. It's called a poker chip game. Anytime you send a shout out or you made my day or things like that, you get a poker chip. Or if you do a charitable event, you get a poker chip. And or if you do a presentation during the huddle, you get three poker chips, there are different levels that you can get the poker chips, and at the end of the day, you get your winning a trip to Las Vegas, and we're going to send you with 1000 buck’s cash. I'll tell you, we have almost 100% participation. It's crazy. Yeah, and the people who participate usually participate the less our Field Services Group, man, they're on it. I mean, they're big gamblers or something's going on but They're big-time participants in this thing.

Steve Baker 20:05

That is great, I love it, which is what you're supposed to be doing right is fun at work and driving results at the same time.

Darein Gandall 20:12

You got it. And when you take away the driving part, you know, out of their minds and make it fun, man, things just, they go through the roof. I learned that from. And it just occurred to me, I remember where I met, he was in Springfield, with Randy Williams. And we came in I that was my second iteration of GGOB training and just the things that were taught and re-emphasized. It really, really hit home and kind of was nice, but as a refresher, and you know, even people that are seasoned, and this is myself. Still catch little pearls of wisdom here and there.

Rich Armstrong 20:53

Yeah, we're always learning

Darein Gandall 20:54


Steve Baker 20:57

That's what I love about the community, because everybody shares and just the stuff that you're giving us here, stories from Cisco-Eagle are so inspiring for everybody listening, because they're all looking for the next big idea. And journey. Unity really is sharing and, and we sure want to have some fun. So thanks for sharing those that I am. I'm wondering, you have come through some pretty phenomenal years. But you've also come through some pretty challenging years as well. And when you think back, you know, both of those things are a problem. Right? And, you know, growth is a problem and not growth is a problem. How did a Great Game help Cisco-Eagle through those ups and downs? How do you know, could you talk a little bit, obviously, mini games are a part of that, but what else? Could you talk about with the with regard to how Great Game has helped you through, you know, the cycles of business?

Darein Gandall 21:52

Well, you know, we were first when I took over in 2012, our huddles had become bogged down due to just, you know, information that shouldn't have been part of the huddle. And it just kind of, you know, the huddle is we're supposed to be a 15–20-minute deal. Everybody reports everybody get the information and then go back, do your own thing. And it just got to be it was almost oppressive in a way, I guess. Because we weren't doing very well. And it became a tool of just, God here we go again, we got to go do this. When I took it over, I got rid of all that. And we went back to what I learned at GGOB and that was the financials. And that's what we talked about. And today are huddles last all about 15-20 minutes. Unless somebody wants to share something then after that we break into radio ci for about an hour and a half. So

Steve Baker 22:52

That's good. So there's your cultural part.

Darein Gandall 22:55

Yeah, yeah,

Steve Baker 22:56

Financials are financials. They're encapsulated. Boom, that's the promise. And then you go into the, the other stories and you're staying connected through radio. CEI,

Darein Gandall 23:05


Steve Baker 23:06

Okay, good.

Darein Gandall 23:08

And I'll tell you, I think without GGOB, kind of leading the way on that deal, I don't think radio ci will never come to existence. Unless somebody else just all of a sudden had I have a great idea. But I think everybody noticed that the communication, we just wanted more, everybody was wanting more communication. And so we set up that thing. And it like I said, it went from managers talking about things to everybody saying, hey, I recognize this, I saw this and did this. And, you know, so it was really fun. Some of it was all there. Most was business related, but a lot of it was you know, hey, what do people do with their lives? And it really helped kind of foster the culture that we had brought into the office, you know, online. It, I'm very happy with how with the outcome of it. I'm not happy with the way things are going as far as the COVID thing, but we may have to may have to be going back down to lockdowns who knows if that's 

Steve Baker 24:09

Exactly, who knows? But, but by communicating, everything gets better. Absolutely would have been without. So just for a little bit more depth. If you don't mind. Darein, can you talk about so the huddles, very structured 15 to 20 minutes, just the financials, anything else we take offline? You got you talk about radio CEI structure? I mean, do you have a set agenda? Or is it a free for all has that look?

Darein Gandall 24:36

Yeah, when we first started, we had a set agenda because we want to get everybody used to what was being talked about. And then after about the third time, we open the floor up to anybody who had a thing that they were seeing that we weren't reporting on. And, you know, of course, it's like everything else, you know, once the league starts leaking, boom, the dam breaks and all it took was one person to pose a question or make a comment and then it was Katie bar the door. I mean, everybody starts jumping in. And it was, it was great because, you know, we obviously people learn finally how to do the zoom thing and how to mute yourself and unmute yourself, which was probably the biggest challenge of all. People driving down the highway, you know, wanting to get a little radio ci and participate. So it was it was it is a great tool.

Steve Baker 25:27

Awesome. I love that you're doing that with your people. It's a great way to stay connected.

Darein Gandall 25:32

Agreed, agreed. If there was a better way, I'd love to hear about it.

Rich Armstrong 25:39

Darein, you also mentioned earlier, when we were talking about bonus plans, you use the word or the phrase bucket bonus plans. And I'm not sure if our audience is familiar with the various types of bonus plans that are kind of offered within the Great Game and Bucket is fairly unique. Can you talk just a bit about what that is and how that works?

Darein Gandall 25:59

Sure. What we do, we try to come up with a bonus plan that was fair and structured throughout the company. And the way we had it wasn't, wasn't really it was just catch camp. And so the steering group got together, and they assigned a bucket amount for everybody in the office and a bucket is a bonus. And to receive a bucket, you have to fill three buckets before that, and our current bucket. NOI line is 300,000. So the first 900,000 and NOI goes to the company. And then we pay bonuses about 20% out of every $300,000 bucket we get after that, I'm sorry 30% of pot Yeah, 30%. And the rest of it goes back to the company. We know it has been a blessing, like I said and a curse because we have a bucket bonus program and you're not getting your bonuses. It's frustrating. And it kind of has the same feeling as if my god I'm being inundated with buckets. You know, I've obviously a little happier on the other side. But the feeling is still the same, you know, you know, we just got to watch out for complacency and pick up on it. And if you can nip that in the bud sooner than later. It it'll pay dividends. As far as I'm concerned.

Steve Baker 27:27

Rich. I have a follow up question to that. So Darein, when you fill that fourth bucket, right, and you're paying out 30% of that, as that's the pool available, is it distributed equally? Or is it a percentage of earnings?

Darein Gandall 27:43

Based on earnings?

Steve Baker 27:46


Darein Gandall 27:47

Yes, individuals.

Steve Baker 27:48

Individual earnings. Okay, very good. Someone's gonna ask that question. And equitable, it's not equal.

Darein Gandall 27:54

Yes, that is correct. Okay. There must be some stuff in their mind.

Rich Armstrong 28:01

Now, that's good. It's good.

Steve Baker 28:03

Well, let's talk about so we've talked about the past and the present. And let's talk about how you're using Great Game of Business and other practices that you've kind of built Cisco-Eagles culture around, how are you using those practices to prepare for the future?

Darein Gandall 28:20

Oh, that's a good question. I'll tell you; we've been running around here we've been inundated with business. It's been very great. Automation has truly seen an uptick right now. And we are, we have a couple of customers that are keeping us very, very busy. I don't you know what, I really don't know how to answer that question. Shit, okay. I don't think we're going to make any changes. As far as a Great Game goes. We keep instilling that every, every month, every day, every week, we still send our people to the Great Game for training it at one time, the Great Game was just, you know, something that the owners were bringing in as one more thing just to the employees had to learn, you know, just change, change, change.

3. The Great Game of Business has allowed everyone to be on the same page in the business. Having the ability to bring everybody together with the same mindset is incredibly great for the company.

And now it's looked upon as if we didn't have this, we wouldn’t know what the left hand was doing. I mean, it's just, it's amazing. The ability to bring everybody together with the same mindset as far as financial goes is incredibly great for the company. It helps we base decisions off everything we learn in the huddle. And our forecasting. You know, forecasting is a bit tough right now, because we have customers telling us Oh yeah, you know, wait three weeks Well, if you wait three weeks, the price on steel is gonna go through the roof, blah, blah. Yeah, you don't know So now we're starting to get inundated with people's orders early earlier than we thought, and hell, now we're getting them. And the steel prices are changing on us mid order. It's just, it's crazy. But once again, all this stuff is communicated through the huddles, and that was brought about by the Great Game. And that's, we're going to continue to do that from here on out. I don't see that changing at all.

Rich Armstrong 30:23

It's, it's great. Well, I'm gonna ask you another tough question Darein. And it was easy at this point. Well, we like to wrap up all the podcasts by asking, you know, what is one question we should be asking you right now. What do we miss?

Darein Gandall 30:43

What have we missed? Are we looking forward to in three to four years is continued growth, we're going to be expanding our offices to go looking at three other locations right now? We currently have salespeople in those areas who are doing very well. And what's kind of I guess the question is, what am I doing to facilitate that? Answer to yours, stay out of the way. That's exactly what I'm doing.

Rich Armstrong 31:19

You're a Great Game leader.

Darein Gandall 31:21

You got it; it leaves them behind. Is that did I hear that some time ago? Yeah. But you know, with our marketing group, and my vice president sales, they've been working together, looking at ways to grow our business outside of our general footprint, and what we've been doing and would have been finding. It's been very good for us as we backup second. Most of the people we have working for us right now and in our territories are people that call us the sauce of our website, former customers, that said, hey, we would think we could do some good in these areas. And so we put together marketing research group, and this research to find out how many leads for website being driven in that area. What the parameters were for, as far as buildings and just industrialization, things like that warehousing. And it's, we've got it down to where we can just pick, you know, hey, look, is this gonna work? We can run it through the parameters, and we'll know right then if it's gonna work or not. And that's, that's kind of how we're doing it. So when I when I said, I stay out of the way, I wouldn't kidding, I let them. Let them do all the hard work. And I take all the credit.

Rich Armstrong 32:39

No, it's great. It'd be very strategic on how you're going to expand and grow after this first kind of wave. One question I do want to just maybe think about, because you just you talked about all the growth that you're trying to manage at this point in time. And most companies out there are having a real difficult time finding the resources to support that, specifically people, anything that you're doing specific or unique that is helping you find the team to support that growth.

Darein Gandall 33:10

You know, I'll tell you if we ship four or five years ago, find you find engineers everywhere, you know, salespeople everywhere. Now, the with the Labor pool being so thin, we're really having to sell the, the ESOP and our other benefits are other benefits. And you know, you pay for insurance and 401k matching. It's been very difficult. I'm not going to kid you about that. We've gone from posting things on our website we're using, you know, indeed, those things. LinkedIn, we have headhunters, the right now the most successful findings from the headhunters. We're getting so many, so many resumes that had nothing to do with our business. And it's just kind of its very tough right now. We're thinking about maybe doing sign on bonuses, you know, half up front half after six months or something like that. But if you have any great ideas, have heard something that's coming down the pike, I would love to know.

Rich Armstrong 34:14

We have several sessions, several separate sessions, a big focus on that at our conference this year annual conference, because it is it is a challenge. We're seeing it with their own parent company SRC holdings, as well as finding that finding the labor force and exactly, it's both on the professional side that you're talking about engineers, but just you know, on the general labor is difficult as well.

Darein Gandall 34:40

Yeah, I agree. I agree.

Rich Armstrong 34:44

So, I think that there's definitely a connection. I think some of the stuff that I heard you doing is that once you get them retain them, and I think you're doing some amazing stuff in making sure your people feel welcomed and that this is a family business. I want to be involved with for a long time. So

Darein Gandall 35:03

Yeah, I'll tell you, it would be tough to go through what we've been through as far as the COVID. And everything. It'd be tougher. If it wasn't for the, you know, we got deemed an essential employer early on, because we do business with so many different entities that are deemed essential. And it really kept us busy. Yeah, we were home, but the orders kept coming in the demand was still there, if not increasing. As more people move to automation to handle their labor shortages. I really don't see anything slowing down until probably the end of 2025 is what the economists are saying. And then 26 Get ready. It's gonna be a bear.

Rich Armstrong 35:46

That's right.

Steve Baker 35:48

So, you're thinking further out than you were admitting.

Darein Gandall 35:51

So I know, I know. I know, It's the geek in me.

Steve Baker 35:56

That's good, though. That's good. That's what this is all about. Right? If we can, I like what you said, one of the first things that you said that I jotted down was that the huddles, bring it all back into check. You know, we got more connected through our huddles, and nothing's a surprise. And so I love that your kind of bringing that, you know, I bring this up a lot of Rich is tired of hearing me say it. But there's a study about happiness that the University of Michigan did years ago, and they found out the number one predictor of happiness is a feeling of control over one's own life, you're giving people that control. And I think that, you know, sounds like the culture is really, you know, enhanced by that. So that's great. So I made a bunch of notes. While we were talking, I just want to share, you tell me if I got any of it wrong, that I really liked those puddles, bring it all back into check. It's a great way for us to check in with one another. You talked a lot about employee owners need to understand how the financials work. It's not just an entitlement program or a benefit. They they're going to be owners; they need to be businesspeople. Around the huddles, you talked about line-item ownership and that everybody owns a line. You said complacency and entitlement are always a concern. And be careful not to get money drunk. That is a big take home for me, because I'm feeling a little tipsy right now. Many games help through the recession. But you also then throughout the conversation, you were talking about the you use them to be problem solvers use them financial, operational and cultural that mini games can be personal as well as business. And in the poker chip mini game people are on fire for I just love the idea that they've embraced it as one of these things that it makes work better and makes work fun. And you've included things on the, you know, at work side and the personal side so that people can get better in their own home finances as well. And then I wanted to end with this one. Because it touched me very much. It really speaks to the heart of Cisco-Eagle, and I think of your father and you, the founders of the company wanted their people to have the same life they enjoy. That is power. Correct. So well, congratulations on 50 years, you don't look 50.

Darein Gandall 38:22

34 actually.

Steve Baker 38:26

And so, Darein Gandall What can I say? It's been a real pleasure. Thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Darein Gandall 38:33

Thanks I appreciate it. It was fun.

Steve Baker 38:35

Absolutely. Well, folks, let's keep the conversation going. Send us your questions, your stories, those best practices and ideas, your challenges, and of course your victories because those are capitalism at its best. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you next time.

Announcer 38:53

The "Change the Game" podcast is produced by the Great Game of Business. To learn more, visit

Conference Ad 39:07

Each year for the last 29 years, a community of game changers have gathered together from around the world to learn, share, and celebrate the principles and practices of the Great Game of Business at the world's largest conference on open-book management. This year. We are back in Dallas baby stronger than ever because let's face it, we are better together. Join us virtually or in person in Dallas September 8 through 10th for the Great Game of Business conference. Visit for more information.

Topics: Leadership, Manufacturing, Transparency, High-Involvement Planning™, COVID

About The Podcast

Podcast Banner

Hosted by Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker the Change the Game podcast highlights true life stories of organizations influencing positive change by doing business differently. They’re teaching people how business works and closing the gap between the haves and have-nots. It’s capitalism at its best. Inside each episode, you’ll discover stories of entrepreneurs who are Changing the Game.

Change the Game Podcast Trailer


Subscribe to Get notified about new episodes!