LeanCor is celebrating a special milestone this year. After 15 years of advancing the world's supply chains, it's time for some reflection. Marketing Manager Kelley Prince sat down with CEO Robert Martichenko to capture some of LeanCor's history and lessons learned since he founded the company on January 3, 2005.
Why did you start LeanCor?
When we decided to start this company, it was really because there was an unmet demand in the supply chain industry for a company to focus specifically on continuous improvement. Yes, we had to have content expertise in the supply chain, but we knew we also had to bring a dedication to continuous improvement. We believed - and still believe - that it's a differentiator in a gigantic sea of other providers in our industry.
We also decided we would not just exist in the logistics industry, but in the professional training and supply chain consulting industries as well. We knew that to create cultures of continuous improvement, you have to respect and develop people, fix under performing processes, and execute and sustain lean operations. We have stayed true to this identity, and it has served us well.
What have you learned along the way?
You can't control everything. You can control the products you develop, whom you hire, to which business you say "yes." But there's a whole "truckload" of things you can't control: the economy, your customers, industry changes, technology changes, people's emotions, and more. Every year there have been changes that were out of our control. When we started the business, a large percentage of the things in my business plan didn't even happen. And even more things happened that I didn't anticipate.
However, you can be proactive to mitigate the effects of uncontrollable disruption. Three years after we started, the 2008 recession hit. 2009 and 2010 were extremely busy on the consulting side. When these disruptions happen, some organizations just bunker down and try to weather the storm. Other, forward-thinking companies take that time to fix things. This mindset is even more important today; proactive, continuous improvement is critical to stay competitive.
When you're a young company, you make both good and bad decisions. Both types can turn into key learning points. We've learned from all of our decisions and they've made us who we are today: a company that is first and foremost, people and principles. Our culture has always guided our work. When visitors tour our headquarters, this remains evident.
Our industry is one where you have to "stay at it." There's never less work involved. The logistics industry is an hour-to-hour rhythmic business. Prioritizing culture is not something you can just put in a flyer or a slide presentation. It must be lived every single day. Our proprietary Lean Culture Transformation Framework helps guide this ever-evolving journey. It focuses on:
Transformation Alignment: Are we aligned as leaders on what we're trying to accomplish?
Leadership Participation: Are leaders engaged every day in the work - with our people, processes, and customers?
People Effectiveness: Are we working on developing our people and giving them new opportunities for learning? Are they taking risks and learning from those risks?
Process Management: At the end of the day, if we're moving material from China to Minnesota, we have to have sound processes.
What advice do you have for others starting a company?
Get ready for the ride of your life! Get ready for incredible highs and low lows. Recognize things seldom settle nicely in the middle. I don't prefer comparing it to a roller coaster ride because in that analogy you're able to predict ups and downs - in that sense it's stable. I liken it more to flying a kite. When business is good, everything is great up there in the sky. Then, before you know it, you're on the ground. And before you know it again, the wind picks up and you're soaring.
Bottom line is: live your passion, get ready for a lot of hard work, and focus on your people, culture, and customers.
A wise man once said to me that "if you do the right things, then good things should happen."
Here's to the next 15 years.
Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group
LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Google+