For CEOs and executives in general, there are certain universal principles – ideals about excellence of service and loyalty to the community – which go far beyond the numbers in a balance sheet, inventory receipts, sales projections and profit estimates. These things are important, yes, but they do not tell the whole story; they do not contain the powerful but incalculable – really invaluable – power of enjoying the trust and respect of customers and citizens alike.
I write these words with a degree of pride (for the company I represent) and experience (from interacting with a diverse array of clients), in the hope that other businesses will emulate these practices for the good of their respective industries and the betterment of the economy as a whole. For, in my role as Operations Manager for FD Johnson, a leading provider of lubrication systems and pump connectors, I know the critical importance of quality service.
More importantly, thanks to working for a company with 80-years of storied history, I have the best guidebook at my disposal: Tradition. That is, I do not have to resort to mere theories or overcomplicate a very basic (but too often ignored) idea — that, through professionalism and rapid responsiveness to customers, and with sufficient patience, as no one can rush the passage of time, a company will earn the respect of its clients and be a fixture in the community.
Those strengths are at the center of word-of-mouth marketing and referrals, complemented by the wisdom of knowing one other simple, indisputable truth: If quality service is at the core of your success – the FD Johnson motto, “We keep your machinery running,” illustrates this point – then you cannot (and must not) forsake this feature for the false allure of quick gains or worthless promises.
Put a different way, our rich history is like a grand edifice: It requires significant diligence to construct and maintain, but its support can dissolve – and with it, the legacy bequeathed to us by our founders – if we treat service as an afterthought.
Preserving Essential Values and Leading by Example: A Company’s Lasting Integrity
My advice to fellow executives is, therefore, just as straightforward as my other points — that you must not luxuriate in past achievements, while the reality of today – and the demands of keeping your machinery running – necessitates action, leadership and responsibility. All of which underscores the connectedness between service and a company's broader relationship to the physical realm in which it operates.
In this regard, FD Johnson is both in and of Cleveland, Ohio. And, free of any braggadocio or self-impressed rhetoric on our part, let me say, to the people of the Greater Cleveland Area: Thank you. Their support for us, and our allegiance to this city, is part of a longstanding reciprocal relationship, which is another way of reiterating the earlier statement about patience.
We, like many companies, can, hypothetically, run our business elsewhere, even overseas. But any short-term savings – and any such benefit may very well be illusory – would come at the expense, again, of our 80-years of history.
We have the respect of our customers not only because of what we do, but where we do it: In America, in the Midwest, keeping – and creating – jobs in the States. In this economy, that policy means the difference between protecting families and making workers a part of something greater than all of us. They – and we – are the guardians of 80-years of history.
So, What is the one takeaway proposition, which every business can adopt and every CEO should embrace? In a word: Loyalty. That loyalty refers to service, training, responsiveness, and awareness for and concern about the community. No company exists in a vacuum, free of the events and challenges that confront a citizenry. Which is to say, we have a vested interest in good schools, a strong infrastructure and recognition of the issues at the intersection of politics, economics, taxes and public works.
Loyalty, in all its manifestations, for consumers, citizens and the community, is the catalyst for great service and overall success. People become champions of your brand, which adds to the equity of your company's perceived and quite real financial value. Individuals then have a stake, emotional or otherwise, in choosing your business, as opposed to contacting a competitor.
From there, the positive reviews, increased orders (from existing clients) and loyalty – of distributors, vendors and customers – unite. That combination, through perseverance and conviction, yields impressive rewards. FD Johnson upholds those beliefs, which are as relevant now as they were 80-years-ago.
Other companies, from entrepreneurial start-ups to established enterprises, can do likewise. Let these businesses create a history they can celebrate and a tradition their clients can cherish. Period.
Brian Robson is Operations Manager for the FD Johnson Company, which has an 80-year commitment to excellence, ensuring the proper installation, maintenance and performance of lubrication pumps and systems.