Cherry’s builds and sells specialized equipment used in warehouses to transfer product on and off pallets. The company, which sells primarily to Fortune 500 companies, also manufactures equipment used to clean and maintain pallets.
When CEO John Costello made the decision to buy out his business partner following an earlier buyout of the company’s founder, he needed to leverage everything he had to make it happen. That also put enormous pressure on the company to pay down its debt—ASAP. But Costello was concerned about what his associates would do once they learned the truth. “I was scared as hell,” he says, “but I knew that I had to share the numbers.”
Use The Great Game of Business® (GGOB) as a system to communicate with the associates the state of the business and engage them in helping turn the company’s financial fortunes around while paying down its debt.
On July 9, 2021, the Cherry’s team celebrated a big milestone: the company was finally debt free for the first time since 2005. “Only through GGOB were we able to pay down debt at an accelerated rate, pay out bonuses, conserve cash during a pandemic and begin to build a war chest for future use,” says Costello. Cherry’s also established an Ownership Culture Committee (OCC) in 2021, which led the way in helping cement six core values for the organization that everyone from the bottom up agreed on: Exceed Expectations, Elevate Others, Build Relationships, Do the Right Thing Always, Enjoy What You Do, and Take Ownership. “Now we review our core values before every meeting and huddle as we live and breathe our values every day,” says Costello.
“We are a completely different organization than we were 5 years ago. Practicing GGOB has started our journey to becoming the company we were always capable of being. We would not be experiencing our current success if it wasn't for GGOB.”
~ Herb Taylor, Director of Sales & Marketing
Pain Points and Opportunities
Supply chain disruptions and parts shortages have been forcing Cherry’s to delay delivering some of their products to their customers, even as demand is soaring as Cherry’s clients increasingly look to automate. “Our safety features are an appealing aspect for employees,” says Michael Muller, Operations Manager. But finding new employees to fill open positions has also been a significant challenge. For example, the operations department is looking for an engineer. But more than skills, they’re looking for someone who can fit Cherry’s open-book culture, says Muller. The team is also relying on its forward-forecasts to help look ahead and better understand where the market is trending so they can plan accordingly. “We don’t live on hope,” says Russ Catt, Capital Sales.
“Before GGOB, there was a lack of trust between employees and owners. Without transparency, people make up their own stories. There wasn’t enough information and knowledge. Now, we can ask questions. It used to be ‘their’ problem. Now it’s ‘our’ problem. Everyone comes together to help each other.”
~ Kunal Shah, Technology Manager
The Cherry’s team played multiple MiniGames to address a variety of challenges and opportunities. For example, they played a game to help promote their core values by recognizing peers for living those values. Another game, called “Don’t Let the Grinch Steal Christmas,” helped the whole company track and ensure that all their booked orders were completed and shipped by the end of the year. A third example was a MiniGame built around forecast accuracy, which helped drive the accuracy of year-over-year forecasts.
While the Cherry’s team appreciates how much GGOB has helped strengthen their culture, the OCC in particular sees additional opportunities to continue to address their weaknesses—such as creating more MiniGames. “The whole idea is to make it a more fun place to work,” says Greg Hamlin, Capital Sales and OCC chair. “We want everyone to embrace a creative mindset to think about things differently. We don’t want to work for a place where you just punch in and punch out. We want everyone to know that we are listening and want to find ways to keep improving our culture and how we play GGOB.”
“John Costello offered a financial class to all new hires, which is something I had never been offered before by previous employers. After gaining financial literacy, I have used the knowledge gained during this class and in our weekly huddles in my personal life. I opened a savings account and did not allow myself to use those funds to pay my bills. The goal-oriented budget I created helped me reach the point where I am actively looking for my first home to purchase. Cherry’s participation in GGOB, the open book management style of operation, and the focus on ‘understanding the why’ brought me to this point in my life. I am so grateful for Cherry’s and GGOB as well as for John for educating me and teaching me the correct way to budget.”
~ Connie Cuautle, Customer Service and Sales Support