VIEWPOINT: A personal perspective from manufacturing leader/board member.

The Chronicle continues its series of articles profiling members of the ASLON Group Advisory Board with the purpose of introducing these individuals to our readers and sharing their insights. In this issue, The Chronicle features, John DuRoss, Vice Chairman of Enerco Group Inc. (EGI), a privately-held manufacturer of specialty heating products (including the well-known national brands Enerco, HeatStar and Mr. Heater) in Cleveland, Ohio. From 1981 to 2008, John served as President and Chief Operating Officer of EGI and has been instrumental in developing the company into the industry leader it is today.

Here John gives his perspective on integrity, the importance of advisory boards, and the role of a CEO. Look for additional commentary from him on succession planning and executive searches in the next issue of The Chronicle.

INTEGRITY

Stay the course.
Integrity is sitting down with your leaders to determine your vision for the business and what you value. Then it’s about staying on that course, constantly and consistently. Integrity means being humble and honest and sincere. It means being unwavering even during difficult times — it’s sticking to your values. It’s not cutting corners or making a promise you can’t keep. It’s staying calm and controlled, believing in your vision, no matter how significant the adversity or problem.

Integrity is doing what you say you’re going to do.

I believe in running a business from a Biblical perspective — what the Bible says about servant leadership and how to treat people, from the golden rule to speaking the truth in love. Jesus models servant leadership which everyone can appreciate and learn from.

Invest in people.
We invest in our people. It starts at the top with Al {Allen Haire, Chairman and CEO} and me. We’ve put our partners and team members ahead of ourselves. Over the years, we’ve not asked, what’s good for us? But, what’s good for the company? We always believed that what was good for the company was good for us. We’ve put the company first and foremost and I think our people can see that. And they’ve seen where they could advance in their careers. We’ve significantly invested our profits into our people as well. We have an active and prolific profit-sharing plan.

Along with our integrity-based leadership, it’s a fun place to work. Our motto is: ‘Work hard, have fun and make money.’ And we do that. Over the last 30 years, Enerco Group has averaged year-over-year compounded growth of more than 15 percent.

But making money has never been at the forefront, not the first objective. Our primary objectives are to:
 Create excellent products – products that meet niches in the marketplace.
 Put our people and products first.
 Remain loyal to our customers, our employers and our suppliers.

ADVISORY BOARDS

Create a think-tank.
I’d suggest an advisory board for anyone. Like Tim has done with ASLON, you can pick and choose people from different areas of business. We bounce ideas around at board meetings. We’ve been like a think-tank for him. We can see things from the outside – from that 5,000-foot view because we’re not groveling around in the day in and day out. We’re not looking over his shoulder, but we help him stay on task and we provide another view.

We’re constantly challenging him. We’ve asked him to take a hard look at things:
 Where does he want to go?
 What is his vision?
 What’s his succession plan?
 How does he maintain integrity and hold to his values?

The advisory board has been vital to his business in both up and down times.

ROLE OF THE CEO

Empower the people.
It’s about empowering your leaders, who in turn, empower their direct reports to give people an opportunity to make a difference. That’s really what everybody wants – to make an impact in their sphere; people want to have an influence. It’s also up to the CEO to:
 Cast the vision for the organization.
 Assess frequently where the company is in relation to the vision.
 Keep their leaders on track.