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29. Be An Expert. | Marc’s Message

Marc’s message:

There’s an old axiom that says “Knowledge is Power”.  I believed that for many, many decades throughout my career.  However, a couple years ago I was at a presentation, and the speaker made an interesting comment that not only struck me then, but has stuck with me since that day.  He said knowledge is NOT power Š unless you APPLY it.  I’ve thought about that comment on many occasions and have shared it with others when appropriate.  To me, the analogy of “applying it” (or not applying it) would be like having a good idea, but not taking action to implement it.  Having interesting thoughts are great, but if we don’t do anything with them to make progress and move forward, is it really a benefit for the company or our customers from a business perspective?

Similarly, setting out to acquire knowledge that relates specifically to your role or in related areas that provide additional viewpoints and knowledge is a good thing.  But we need to figure out what to do with that information and how to utilize or deliver it in ways that add value and make us better.  A good example of this would be the online training courses that we have available through our industry associations like ASA and HARDI, as well as vendor specific portals like Lochinvar University.  Individuals that have taken advantage of this educational curriculum that Famous offers are Dave Hudia, Joe Palermo, Brian Davis, Ryan Hepner, Corey Hovance, Diana St. Clair, Dan Rarric, Ellen Lewis, James Galloway, Seth VanOrsdale, Jasmine Sampson, Dennis Karban, and Larry Puchajda.  I’m very proud of this group that has been so proactive to learn more and apply that knowledge with their customers to help grow our business.

In addition, our attorneys at our law firm, Sonkin and Koberna, and our accountants at Cohen & Company are also shining examples of this fundamental.  Rick Sonkin, Mark Koberna, and their incredible team of attorneys and Tracy Monroe, Keith Klodnick, and Mark Schikowsky at Cohen are all 100% dedicated to their craft.  They are continually learning new case law, compliance and regulatory matters, audit and tax laws, and other pertinent business best practices and share their knowledge and expertise with Famous so that we may run our business most effectively.  Moreover, our CFO Pete Bastulli does a terrific job coordinating with all our professional partners, and it’s not a cursory facilitation.  He truly digs in to understand the fine details of every matter with our outside team.  He is an integral part of our process, and by acquiring the knowledge, he is able to translate and apply that in depth understanding into solid guidance and decisions to help Famous and ultimately you (our associates).

Every individual can make such an incredible difference in so many ways with knowledge and the application of it.  At its core, this is truly the foundation for progress.  Thanks for not only thinking about how you can learn to make things better, but actually doing it!

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28. Think Safe. Work Safe. | Marc’s message:

Marc’s message:

I believe that if you asked almost every single associate at Famous, and all of our friends and family whom we are associated with Š.. “what are some of the most important things in life? “Š we would get a reply like “family” and a short list of other things that they value immensely.  I also believe that one of the universal answers that would rise near the top over and over again is the word ŠŠ “health”.  If you agree with the premise that being healthy is important for each of us and in the lives of our loved ones, then this week’s fundamental, THINK SAFE, WORK SAFE is central to our core beliefs.

At Famous, we really take a holistic view to being healthy and safe.  We want you to come to work feeling good, stay safe while you perform your work functions, and return home to your families feeling well and energized for the days ahead.  We have wellness initiatives and an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) to help all of us stay emotionally, spiritually and physically fit.  In addition, we have various safety training available which allows you to work in a more secure work environment.  If you are not familiar with all that we offer, I encourage you to reach out to others at Famous for direction, our Safety Lead (Dan Reed) or our HR team to learn about all of the resources available to you and your families.

When it came to safety, one of our superstars was Matt Cush, our Transportation Manager.  We mourn the recent loss of Matt, but can still learn from him during this difficult time.  As many of you know, Matt was a trained EMT and always brought a safety mind set to every process and project.  He genuinely cared for others’ well-being and always looked for ways to make our facilities safer.  In fact, he often worked during the weekends personally inspecting each truck for safety concerns to ensure our drivers have a reliable vehicle for branch replenishment and customer deliveries.  Matt had everyone’s backs and truly went above and beyond to help our Famous Team stay safe.

We all need to take personal responsibility to look for any safety issues that could exist, and communicate your thoughts and potential solutions to your managers and / or functional leaders, including HR.  We need to listen accordingly and implement effective ways to improve anything and everything related to everyone’s safety.

In closing, I believe we all want the same thing Š.. to be healthy and safe not only here at work, but at home and in your personal lives as well.  Take care!

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27. Share The Why | Marc’s message

Marc’s message:

I must admit that of all our fundamentals, “Share The Why” is truly one of my favorites.  Maybe it’s because as a kid, I always wanted to know why.  I’m a Taurus (April 24th), so I guess that means I may have been a little stubborn in my younger years (I hope not so much as I get older).  Therefore, I didn’t want to just be told what to do, but I wanted and needed to know why.  The main reason that I pushed back for more understanding is that if more knowledge was shared, it became an opportunity to learn and be part of progress.  That feels good, as opposed to being kept in the dark and feeling more like a cog in the wheel.

I believe, to my core, that every single associate at Famous should not only understand why we do what we do, but you deserve to be an integral part of the conversation.  When we run our business in an inclusive environment, where everyone’s input matters, we make better decisions that affect us all.

I’m very proud to be associated with a team of peers (all of you) that want to understand and share the why.  To me, it just makes good sense personally and professionally.  A powerful example of the foundation of this fundamental would be a combination of three things:

  1. Our monthly corporate conference calls.
  2. Our monthly branch meetings.
  3. Our individual one to one’s (121’s) with our managers /direct reports.(As a side note for those who are unaware, I do a monthly 121 with a mentor from my Vistage group who challenges me to think about our business in new ways)

These events offer us all opportunities to “share the why”.  We can offer knowledge and ask questions for clarity, and additional discussions can take place for further and deeper understanding.  And by listening to all others, whether it’s up, down, or sideways in our organization, we gain additional opportunities to learn, adjust, and / or change accordingly.

Our new direction with our RDC’s, whether it’s our inventory or logistics plan is a specific example that needed a ton of communication so the entire company was in alignment and understood why we were doing what we were doing.  Can you imagine what chaos we would have if we didn’t thoughtfully share the why?  What if we didn’t communicate and just told you what we were going to do?  So many amazing things came out of “sharing the why”, like the following:

  1. Providing Customers the ability to receive their deliveries earlier in the day because trucks depart much earlier in the morning from our RDC’s.
  2. The implementation of Customer Delivery Time Window’s, again allowing our Customers to receive their orders at specific times of the day as they request.
  3. Replenishing product direct from our Suppliers to the RDC’s, eliminating unnecessary double handling of product & risk of damage.
  4. Shipping orders complete to Customers because of increased inventory levels & fill-rates at our RDC’s.
  5. Positioning Famous for future growth because of added storage space at our RDC’s & increased associate productivity.
  6. The role out of new process like our Customer sold-order transfer process which allows RDC’s to more efficiently & ship & receive orders between branches for our Customers.
  7. The implementation of new warehouse systems technology like ŒCarton Packing & Loading’ which provides for increased shipping accuracy.
  8. Centralizing deliveries so branches could focus on sales.

Please continue to think deeply about this fundamental, regardless of your role, and especially if you are in a leadership / managerial position.  We are not the type of company that plays political games or uses information for the purpose of control, ego, power, or position.  That’s not our culture.  It never will be.  Obviously, there can be more sensitive information that has a confidential nature from time to time, but generally speaking, our philosophy is to be open, honest, and share the why.  We believe in transparency.

In closing, if you ever have 20 spare minutes, I would encourage you to watch the Simon Sinek TED Talk about this vital subject.  I believe you will find it enlightening.  Enjoy, and thank you in advance for sharing the why!

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26. Work With A Sense Of Urgency | Marc’s message

Marc’s message:

Good ideas can be really great.  In fact, progress would never be made without ideas.  But for every good idea implemented, there are graveyards of ideas that never came to fruition, because in many cases those ideas are just a lot of talk.  However, there are certain individuals that have such a burning desire to not only think about new and innovative ideas and what they want to accomplish, that they actually put their ideas into action and do so with a sense of urgency.

I believe these results oriented people have many common traits.  They have high standards for themselves, their team and organization they represent.  They have personal pride for achieving their goals.  However, if you peel away the onion and get to the core of what makes these people tick, this fundamental, “Work With a Sense of Urgency” would rise toward the top.  Many individuals spend so much time trying to perfect an idea before they implement it, that it never gets off the ground.  But others that have a sense of urgency, like so many associates at Famous are focused on taking the initiative so that they move the ball forward each and every day.  A good example of this important trait would be our national account team.  We had an idea eight years ago, and we could have talked about it for eight years, but instead, under Dave Lynch’s guidance, and in the spirit of what he refers to as “taking one olive out of the jar at a time”, he has helped lead the team toward progress and accomplishments.  From that initial idea, we built a strong team that, over time, has grown into a small business unit within our organization, and that is fully operational and integrated with our key partner suppliers and our core business as well.  There have been a ton of tweaks (process improvements) and tremendous changes (logistics) in how we have developed our “secret sauce” in order to build this growing entity.  In addition, we have had the support of so many associates within our core business, from IT, Operations, Supply Chain, Accounting, to HR, and others who have contributed to our success as well.  These people and project teams have had one common traitŠ a sense of urgency to help National Accounts run their business most efficiently and effectively.

The key to our winning formula was not the idea.  It was the execution of the idea by talented individuals who first built chemistry and comradery with one another and who responded with urgency to customer requirements and worked through the inevitable roadblocks and headwinds that were present along our journey.  In order to overcome many great challenges, it was having this sense of urgency to fix issues and develop processes that helped create our growth.

In addition to our incredible National Accounts Team, many other Famous associates have a great sense of urgency.  Some are Mark Maple, Ryan Owens, Ken Blankenship, Jim Hohman, Denny Reinbolt, Jerome Harris, Dave Figuly and Dale Kosco.  In addition, Jon Leibhart and all of the FLS Routers (logistics professionals) around the company work with a heightened sense of urgency in the middle of the night or early in the morning.  Although they are under pressure to create the manifest for our customers’ deliveries, their sense of urgency allows them to meet these timelines.  This is an important skillset that improves our productivity, satisfies our customers, and creates energy and enthusiasm that is contagious.

In closing, ideas are important and we need them as we continue to innovate, but without a sense of urgency to actually get things done, our efforts would be fruitless.  On the contrary, because of everyone’s efforts to work with a sense of urgency, we have been able to build a fruitful business, not only in National Accounts but in our core distribution business as well.  I’m confident we will continue to get even stronger in the years and decades to come, as we all work with a sense of urgency every moment of the day.  Again, thank you for your efforts, and I know our customers thank you as well.

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25. Be Relentless About Continuous Improvement. | Marc’s Message

Marc’s message:

This week’s fundamental, “Be Relentless About Continuous Improvement”, is a fitting one as it relates so well to last week’s “Embrace Change”.  In fact, there are several words that are important to highlight.

The first is the word “relentless”.  To me, this term signifies being aggressive, passionate, and proactive with your individual desire to improve and our collective commitment to work as a cohesive team in order to take Famous to a higher level.

The second word is about being “better”.  In sports, champions all have an incredible focus on getting better every day.  They treat practices like games.  They don’t just go through the motions.  They give 100% effort on a consistent basis.  They learn from their mistakes, and they are open to listening to coaches or others to better hone their skills.

The third word, “faster” in this fundamental not only catches my attention, but it is a reflection of people’s wants and needs in society.  Simply, the world has changed, and it will never stop.  People want speed, and they are willing to pay for it.  Think about going from rotary phones to touch tone to mobile phones or standard ovens to microwaves, or from full service at the pump to paying inside and now self-service at the pump, or instead of going to a theater, now sitting comfortably in your home or with your mobile device downloading movies, or going from snail mail to email or texting.

The focal point with this improvement is speed.  And since people’s personal and professional lives are so intensely integrated, we must make speed (along with accuracy) a key element in how we approach our work.  We need a hop in our step.  We need to out hustle the competition.  Unfortunately, there are not enough hours in the day to slow down, and we don’t have the luxury of being idle.  We need to keep moving and look at the pace as fun.  When all of us are consistently focusing on speed and accuracy, we are firing on all cylinders.  Think of the beauty of a basketball team passing the ball crisply, with pinpoint accuracy, and with ball and player movement.  This creates the best opportunities for good shots that win games and eventually championships.

Speaking of basketball and a relentless focus in the spirit of continuous improvement, one of my favorite stories is about Michael Jordan.  I’m sure you are all aware of his greatness and his six championships in the NBA.  However, back in college at North Carolina as a freshman, his coach was the famous Dean Smith.  As the story goes, Coach Smith would often divide the team up and play five on five at the end of practice.  They would play with the winning team being the first to score 11 baskets.   There were times when Michael Jordan’s team would be up 10 to 0. Coach Smith (to MJ’s dismay) would stop the practice game and take Jordan and put him on the other team that was down 0 to 10.  You could imagine what happened next.  Often Michael Jordan’s new team would come back and win 11 to 10.  His will to win was and still is legendary.  He took his practices seriously and he helped his teammates (although he was very young at the time) become stronger, fiercer competitors that could not and would not accept losing.  It wasn’t just talent that got him and his teams to the highest levels of competition.  It was his relentless pursuit of becoming better every day.  We can all learn a lot from his example, as this sports analogy is transferrable to any business as well.

Some amazing associates who come to mind that are absolutely relentless about continuous improvement, and always try to get better, and care about speed, as well as accuracy are Christine Longville, Dave King, Andrew Grover, Ken McGregor, Steve Winovich, Joe Bolinger, Lisa Terman, Joe Puchajda, Jamie Billy, Emily Bowers, Scott Sengewalt, Brad Peters, Grant Wiggins, Randy Mason, Brian Morse, Bob Renicker, and Ed Yakubik.  I’m very proud of the pace and example these individuals set for both our internal and external customers.  In addition, our entire Toledo branch is a high energy team that hustles, gets the job done quickly, and is focused on getting it right.

The best companies don’t just talk about getting better.  They do it.  It’s in their DNA.  That’s just how their people are hardwired.  I am appreciative of the fact that this is the essence of Famous, and I’m extremely confident we will continue to be relentless in the pursuit of our fifth core value, continuous improvement.  Thanks again for all that you do.

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24. Embrace Change. | Marc’s Message

Marc’s message:

Change is one of the most perplexing words in the English language.  I say that because when change occurs, it seems that it’s human nature for people to often feel stress instead of looking at change as an exciting opportunity.  Think for a moment not only about what is taking place in your own life, but in society in general.  Every single thing that has ever happened is a change from whatever came before it.  Look at the progress that has been made in industries like heating, air conditioning and plumbing, or having a more comfortable car to drive in, warmer clothes to wear when it’s frigid outside, new technologies to save us time, educational enhancements to bring us more in depth knowledge, or medical devices to take away pain and solve health issues. These are just a few examples of changes that make our lives better.

So why do we feel anxiety when change is upon us?  There are certain things in our personal lives that are grounded in tradition like which family member may host Thanksgiving or do a barbeque on Memorial Day.    A business example could be our transition as we convert from Eterm to Solar in Eclipse.  And when something causes a little upheaval in that area of our job or life, it can often create an emotional change in us that doesn’t always feel right.  Interestingly, over time we often feel just as strongly, if not more so, about the new tradition or way of doing business and we wouldn’t even want to go back to the old way.

The second area of change that I believe causes pressure has to do with control.  When human beings feel out of control, they tend to worry.  Conversely when they feel in control, they adapt to change much easier.  This reminds me of a study I learned about in college, ironically in a class called “Corporate Culture.”   The study was about control or lack thereof.  A sociologist had two groups of people.  The first group came in to take a test and in the background there was loud heavy metal music blaring from the speakers. This first group had to take the test in this difficult environment.  But the second group of people, when they were given the test, was told that they could change the volume of the music or turn it off entirely, or switch stations to music of their liking.  Which group do you think performed significantly better on the test?  You guessed it, overwhelmingly; the second group because they were more relaxed, and could focus on their work.  I’m sure we can all relate to that scenario, as they were able to reduce the level of stress by simply having more control in their environment.

I’ve often thought about that “volume control” story when we make changes at Famous.  I don’t want you to feel out of control, and cause you undue stress, pressure, or anxiety.  We of course do need to make changes in the spirit of our fifth core value, continuous improvement. This helps us become a better, stronger, and more profitable company, which allows us to reinvest in Famous.  Since it is a natural reaction for people to feel some anxiety in the face of uncertainty, the key is to find the proper balance in how much change to undertake.  Too much of a good thing isn’t always good.  We don’t want to make changes for the sake of change.  So it’s incumbent upon all of us to help create a positive, nurturing and inclusive environment where we have open, honest and direct communication.  This means that when inevitable change needs to occur for the greater good, we shouldn’t be simply telling you what we are changing.  Conversely we should be discussing how we need to change and share why.  We will be better off with mutual understanding, and we encourage your feedback before or during the change process.  As we include our entire team in change initiatives, you will feel more in control and help us achieve our goals even more effectively.

This philosophy is more than just words on a page.  I truly believe it’s our responsibility and that we have a moral obligation to do our best to help give you that “volume control”.  However, I want to conclude with one last point.  And it has to do with trust.  It isn’t practical to talk to over 600 distribution associates on every change that the company makes.  Obviously we need to have more dialogue on the bigger changes.  Therefore, we need everyone to trust that any changes we make are for the good of the team, that our intentions are good, and we are making changes for the right reasons.  Everyone may not agree with every change, but when decisions are made, not only do we appreciate your support, but we need it.  I challenge all of us to continue to embrace change, and to do it in a way that energizes every associate in our Famous family.  I can guarantee you one thing; change is inevitable, so let’s create new and better ways of doing business and traditions as we build Famous to even greater heights.

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23. Think And Act Like An Owner. | Marc’s message

Marc’s message:

The first sentence (“We share in our success.”) in this fundamental is an important one.   I say that because it seems most companies don’t always share in their success.  Conversely, they often strip away profits from their organization.  As you know, at Famous, our objective is to reinvest back into the company in many different ways to ensure long term success.  Whether it’s new facilities, implementing new technology, reinventing our counter and express will call operations, adding more breadth and depth of inventory at our branches and RDC’s, buying more trucks, improving our kitchen and bath showrooms, and most importantly retaining and hiring additional talent, it’s all about investing to strengthen our company.

However, as you know, in order to reinvest in Famous and all of you, including team bonus opportunities, we need to be profitable.  Since the housing and financial crisis seven years ago, we have steadily built our profitability.  In fact, the graph in this fundamental looks like our sales and profit growth from 2010 to 2016.  I am extremely proud of the fact that we have been able to invest in all the areas listed above plus many, many more, and of course, all of you, as training is also an important investment.  Training and development allows you the opportunity to learn more and apply the new knowledge that not only you acquire, but that is required by our customers to satisfy their needs.

Please remember that profit is not a dirty word.  Best in class companies within their respective industries are all extremely profitable, and their suppliers and customers wouldn’t want it any other way.  In fact, their customers want to do business with the winners that are providing the value and service that they require, so they can in turn do the same for their customers as well.  So how do we become more profitable?  That’s the magic question that needs to be answered.  However, I can only provide a few general comments, due to limited time and space in this message, which is, “think and act like an owner”.  It’s so important for you and your peers to make decisions like you own the company.  As we do that more and more each and every day and with every decision we make, we will continue to grow our profits and consequently share even more of our success.  In this message, it’s not practical to specifically address all the different ways that we can be more profitable, because there are literally hundreds, if not thousands.  However I am extremely confident that with your individual and especially collective capabilities to collaborate, teach and learn from one another, you will make wise decisions that are in the best interest of Famous.  And even when we stumble, let’s look at it as a learnable moment, which is an opportunity to enhance our ability to be even more profitable in the future.  Either way it’s a win-win, to become stronger and help move our company forward.

So many people at Famous have a great understanding of the importance of improving profitability, and the first way they do that is by thinking about the overall company, not themselves, their functional area, their branch, or their district.  They think about Famous Enterprises first, and how their actions and decisions will help our organization.  Some individuals that come to mind are Denny Reinbolt, Bruce Ondusko, Bruce Neubauer, Dawn Stonestreet, Kris Newton, Bill Shultz, , Dianna Dalton, Katie Sharrock, and Alan Turk.  Interestingly, some common traits among this group is that they have a lot of experience in multiple roles in the company, and therefore, understand the big picture of our business, and how profit is produced.  I’m proud of them for not only the work they do each day to help Famous, but their loyalty to the company and all of you as well.

In conclusion, I am so confident that we will make even greater strides in the future because when we will all think like owners, and make decisions that are in the best interest of Famous, everything will fall into its proper place.

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22. “Bring It” Every Day. | Marc’s message

Marc’s message:

When we were putting together these fundamentals and going through the final drafts, I was talking about them with several individuals.  I asked Brian Blaushild which were some fundamentals that he loved, and he said, “Bring It” was one of his favorites.  After thinking more about it, I now understand why this one means so much to him.  I admire Brian for many reasons, and one is his drive, determination, and enthusiasm to bring it every day.

He’s been doing this since he was a young boy.  I remember when he was in first grade, and he was doing homework at the kitchen table, I looked over his shoulder and asked if he needed some help.  He looked at me kind of funny, and said, “No, I’ve got it all under control.”  He had an organizer, and I saw his to do lists for math, spelling, and other subjects.  He had little check marks for what he had completed as he was preparing for the next school day.

His approach to life and business is no different today than it was then.  He thinks about the future, puts together a plan, and takes the necessary actions to achieve his daily goals.  To this day, he even keeps a journal of what he wants to accomplish each day and the results of those previous 24 hours.  Simply, he brings it.  They say that a lot of things skip a generation (well maybe not the hairline), and I must say that Brian may have inherited some of that passion and zest for life and business from his grandfather, Jay Blaushild.  When I went to visit my father in the hospital several times over the last month, I am almost embarrassed to say that he was “bringing it” even as he was hooked up to IV’s, regarding the business and so many things we were working on.  Jay and Brian exemplify what it takes every day to create the energy and sense of purpose to push forward regardless of any issues, roadblocks, or challenges that may exist.

There are so many other associates at Famous that bring it every day.  These people set the tone and pace for other associates as well.  Some to come to mind are Lora Yakubik, Ken Blankenship, Dave Figuly, Shelly Briselli, and Lynn Moon, to name a few.  I’m proud of this group of key people and so many others throughout the company.

During David Friedman’s cultural rollout with us, he gave the example of Taylor Swift being on stage to start a concert, where the lights go down and the curtain comes up.  He said, “Imagine if she came out on stage and said to her audience, I didn’t get much sleep last night.  I’m really tired.  I had no coffee today, so my first set of songs probably won’t be up to par.”  How would you feel if you paid your hard earned money and were a fan / customer of hers that night?  You probably wouldn’t be too happy.

Well, the team of people that I mentioned doesn’t let others know that they are tired or have too many things to get done in not enough time.  They somehow figure out a way to accomplish the task at hand and do it in a way that leaves the customer feeling good about doing business with Famous.

I appreciate all of you who “bring it” in your daily actions, and so do all others that you deal with, I’m sure.

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21. Communicate To Be Understood. | Marc’s message

Marc’s message:

How important is it to create mutual understanding when communicating with others?  I hope you believe it’s a major priority; I know I do.  I also know that I can personally improve in both of these areas.  I have a tendency to sometimes get so excited about a conversation that I’m already thinking ahead to what I want to say / how I want to respond.  Unfortunately, this bad habit distracts me from the two-way communication.  It would be better if I slowed down a bit, and were more patient.  I also believe I can improve by saying less and being more succinct with the thoughts I do want to convey.  So if we are ever talking and you see me slipping into my (hopefully old) communication pattern, please give me a reminder to slow down, listen more intently, or ask for clarification if my communication is unclear.

When I think of Famous associates who do a terrific job both listening and conveying their message with clarity and few wasted words, I think of Kirk Allen and Melanie Staats.

Both Kirk and Melanie only respond when it adds to the conversation, and when they do communicate, it is always clear and concise.  They are likeable individuals who have a knack for being direct, but never offensive.

Interestingly, they both have tremendous industry experience.  I believe this knowledge serves them both very well, because they understand our business and communicate appropriately because what they say makes good sense.

Let’s all focus more intently like Melanie and Kirk, and communicate with purpose, simplicity, and conviction!

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20. Be A Mentor. | Marc’s message

Marc’s message:

I would imagine that all of us could think back to individuals that have played an important role in our lives both personally and professionally.  I believe mentoring others in a positive way is truly an art.  In previous weeks, I have highlighted many associates who currently work at Famous to help us see people that are truly living our Fundamentals.  However, this message will be a little bit different.

I would like to take this opportunity to talk about Bill Maxwell.  Many hundreds of people at Famous remember Bill quite well.  He worked at Famous for approximately 50 years, before retiring and passing away in 2010.  Bill (who started as a truck driver and worked his way up to regional manager) and others like him were a huge part of our success.  Not only because of the work they did during their career, but how they thoughtfully and diligently helped others develop into even better and stronger associates and leaders.

Bill had special attributes that allowed him to mentor others.  He was the consummate professional, a total gentleman who was respected because he treated everyone that he came into contact with absolute dignity.  He was a master at observing situations and knowing when to interject himself into the issue or to let it play out and be part of a teachable moment off line and at a better time.  Bill instinctively knew when and how to ask questions or make a subtle point.  He rarely had to tell people exactly what to do.  He had a knack for helping them figure it out for themselves by his probing questions.  Bill always looked you in the eye and communicated with you in his soft spoken, but still passionate tone.  For those of you that knew Bill, you could not help but love the guy.  He was truly what Famous is all aboutŠ humble, a servant leader, and always about the team.

I believe Bill also knew, although I never heard him say it, that to be a good mentor, you need a good mentee.  With every great teacher, there is a ready, willing, and able student.  It’s a two way street.  Bill helped me and so many others during their careers.  I hope that we all seek out others to help at the right times and that we are open to learning from others in the organization, regardless of their years of experience, years with the company, title, or role.  Everybody sees the world and our business a little bit differently and that diversity is what will help get Famous to an even better place.  This philosophy ties in nicely with our 5th core value, continuous improvement, as well.

In closing, helping others and sharing your wisdom is not meaningful, but it’s the right thing to do.  Let’s continue to interact with one another in ways where we teach and learn more so we can better help one another in our valued customers.

Thanks for reading this message and really thinking about its content.  Bill was truly the best, and his character traits and personal attributes will continue to make an impact on the company in the decades to come.

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