SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth?
Jerrod Hogan: Good people and good strategy. We think that every good company, at its core, has good people. And when you combine that with good strategy, you have fun, you create a really cool environment, and you tend to grow.
SBJ: What has the company’s growth enabled you to do?
Hogan: It’s allowed us to spend a little more time on strategy. As we grow, a majority of our team spends their resources working in the business and making sure our clients are successful. But it’s also empowered us to have a few folks spend time on strategy, making it a better place to work, identifying clients and how we serve them better. Being able to divide those tasks up has been a real gift for our company. We did a reorganization of our entire structure almost a year ago now. Our company had a very traditional, hierarchical work chart. Now, we look at if this person is great technically, great with clients or great with strategy. And through that restructuring, we now have opportunities for each of those skill sets and passions to fit into a better position.
SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth?
Hogan: People. In almost every industry now we are seeing a shortage of workers. This is especially true in the engineering and construction world. We have plenty of work to keep people busy and growing our business, but we are lacking qualified personnel to keep up with our demand.
SBJ: Is there such a thing as growing too fast?
Hogan: Definitely. If we keep growing our work, we will outpace our people. Our No. 1 goal is to provide a great place to work and to do so we can’t overwork our people. We strive to provide a place that they can work and have that balance between their personal and professional life.
SBJ: Have your goals changed as business has taken off?
Hogan: Of course. We have always had a motto of “always reserving the right to get smarter.” Our general goals of maintaining high quality work, high quality people and great customer service don’t change, but our goals to keep us there move with the flow of our growth.
SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable?
Hogan: Absolutely. We’ve been on 10 years straight of double-digit growth. And there’s, frankly, been a couple of years where we did grow too fast, and it’s changed our growth strategy. We had a few months where we felt we lost control. If it felt good, we did it. If we liked someone we interviewed, we hired them. We hired too many people on ability and character without making sure they were a good fit with chemistry. One component of growing too fast is ... you end up going backwards and correcting those mistakes.
SBJ: What is the worst business advice you’ve received?
Hogan: Twenty years ago, I had this attorney say, “Write a business plan, execute the business plan and don’t deviate.” I did that for a long time. In hindsight, I think that’s terrible advice. I’d write a 30-page business plan, spend months researching it, and I’d go print it at Kinko’s, bind it and stick it on a desk. The older I get, the shorter the plans. Today, we have a couple-page strategic plan and white board sessions every week to look where we’re at and tweak what we’re doing.
Ariake Sushi and Robata opened; Great Southern Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: GSBC) opened its newest branch in Springfield; and a longtime employee with City Utilities of Springfield went into business for himself with the launch of Van Every Drafting & Design LLC.