A Chat With Harvey Dean, president/CEO, Pitsco
At the core of it, though, a lot of it has to do with key people. I’ve been blessed to have good people at the right time in the right places. That’s a big part of our success.
The reputation for being honest is important for Pitsco. We don’t quibble, and we do turn things around quickly when customers have problems. We get only a few calls a year from irate customers. Nine of out 10 times, they stay a customer, because we admit our mistakes. Either myself or my COO takes care of that customer if they’re really upset. We have high standards for order turnaround. I’m a big proponent of taking care of the customer.
I think in the last 10 years, the thing that’s allowed us to be more successful than the previous 20 is that we have a management program in place that moves the locus of responsibility to the teams. I believe that has been a significant reason for our growth, and the ability to grow without huge stresses internally. I practiced that when I coached track, and it’s an integral part of our educational solutions.
We have a program we run every year called our HOT program. That stands for Harvey’s Official Targets. Every person has a team, and each team has targets. Those targets are spelled out in very formalized ways. We give monthly reports of the targets we’ve attained, and the target’s we’ve lost. There’s a company-wide acceptance that as an employee you are responsible. Once you know what your responsibilities are, you’re expected to do them. There is a mechanism in place to reward you for having achieved them at the end of the year.
CS: Have you had any mentors that you credit with your success in business?
Dean: Probably the best one was the owner of a hardware store where I worked during college. The owner, he was adamant about service. People would come into that old hardware store, and if they had a clock they had bought 20 years prior that needed a replacement screw, he’d get it. He would type out a letter on an old-fashioned typewriter, send it to the manufacturer, and he would get them that screw. I’ve always been impacted by that. And he could charge a higher price for his products because he would get that screw for you. Mr. Hanes was a long-time influence on me, just by the way he treated customers. I still have a passion for that.