The H.W. Pirkey Power Plant, located in Hallsville, Texas, has been providing low-cost, reliable power to its customers since 1985. The plant’s operators were looking for a way to reduce costs through employee engagement.
Stalcop is a manufacturer of cold-formed metal with a special expertise and focus in copper components. They were looking for a way to re-engage their employees by creating transparency, opening new lines of communication and repairing damaged customer relationships.
Wall-tech has been providing exterior painting, interior painting, metal stud framing, drywall, taping, finishing, EIFS, stucco, plaster, sandblasting, firestopping and fireproofing services since 1984. After CEO Pete Braun led a buyout of his company from its other shareholders in 2013, he saw the opportunity to create a more employee-focused culture for his business.
Pete Braun originally started working at Wall-tech 20 years ago as a project manager. More recently, as a reward for his hard work, he was given the opportunity to become one of the shareholders in the business along with the charge to help grow the business, which had revenues of about $4 million at the time. “People thought I was crazy,” says Braun.
Willoway Nurseries is a wholesale grower of trees, shrubs, perennials and seasonal color crops that ships to retailers and contractors in 26 states. The company was searching for a way to operate leaner and to get its workforce, employees in the field and in the back-office, on the same page.
Founded by Les and Marilyn Demaline in 1954, the second generation oversees current operations. The third generation has also taken an interest in the business - granddaughter, Emily Showalter, oversees the HR department and grandson, Eric Demaline, is a foreman in operations. During the past 61 years, the company has transitioned from landscaping to a wholesale nursery, growing more than 2,000 varieties of plant material on 1,000 acres. Willoway is currently the largest wholesale grower of nursery products in Ohio, with a customer base of more than 1,200 independent garden centers and landscape contractors in the Midwest and East Coast.
Jenner Ag, the Case IH Agriculture Application Equipment Distributor for the states of Illinois and Indiana, has been serving its customers for 56 years and counting.
Rapid Financial Results; Lasting Cultural Change
Before the team at Jenner Ag began playing the Great Game of Business, they were doing well – growing at about 5% per year. But thanks to Great Game practices, the company kicked its annual growth rate up a notch to 10%. The company was also very profitable, which was shared with employees through an aggressive bonus plan.
The Kiolbassa Provision Company is a 65-year-old family-owned manufacturer of handcrafted sausage based in San Antonio, Texas. Originally started as more of a pork and beef processor, the company shifted into making sausage fulltime under the guidance of president Michael Kiolbassa, whose grandfather started the company. The company’s sausages is now sold in all 50 states and in Mexico and Puerto Rico.
West Paw Design is a world-class manufacturer of high-quality pet toys, beds, and apparel based in Bozeman, Montana. Founded in 1996, 100% of West Paw Design's products are manufactured in the U.S. using nontoxic, organic, or recyclable materials and are sold largely through independent retailers.
Manufacturing in the U.S. creates lots of challenges for West Paw, especially when it comes to battling the lower prices offered by its competitors who typically make or source their product from overseas. While the business had been largely successful over the long run, it began to lose money in 2012 – a crisis that triggered the firm’s founder, Spencer Williams, to turn to the GGOB for answers.
Greene County is a county located in Southwest Missouri with a population of more than 275,000, making it the fourth most populous county in Missouri. Its county seat is Springfield – home of SRC and The Great Game of Business. Due to the success of companies like SRC, Bass Pro Shops and O’Reilly Auto Parts, Greene County ranks in the top five counties nationwide based on economic strength and viability.
The administrators of Greene County, Missouri, had long admired the business practices of one of its homegrown companies, SRC Holdings. While running a public-sector organization is very different than running a for-profit business, county administrators believed they could benefit by implementing some of the GGOB’s best practices.
Mid America Metals got its start when Donat, who had earned his chops in business working at a large auto dealership in Chicago, teamed up with his two brothers, who were both metal refinishers, to start their own business. “We started out of the back seat of our car,” says Donat, about his business which performs services like removing a scratch from an elevator
door, honing and polishing a lobby floor, or restoring a building’s wooden accents. When Donat bought out his family members five years ago, he wanted to build a common core or culture for the company despite the geographic differences that separated his associates. He turned to the GGOB for help and 2014 was the first year where the entire company was engaged in financial literacy training, huddling, and forecasting.
SRC Electrical, which re-manufactures starters, alternators, and generators for the agricultural and construction industries, has been playing the GGOB since its start as a joint venture with Case New Holland back in 1991. Over time, and especially after the company became entirely owned by SRC in 2009, SRC Electrical has become one of open-book management’s most prominent evangelists. Today, it serves as a showcase for visitors interested in learning how to play the GGOB from the best of the very best.