MBJ Small Business Award-winner shares secrets of success
Centro is featured this week on the editorial page of the Memphis Business Journal
Michael Gallagher Memphis Business Journal Guest Writer

Download the article here-> [PDF 77 KB]

Guest column: MBJ Small Business Award-winner shares secrets of success
Jul 13, 2017, 2:03pm CDT
"In 2012, after being a finalist three times, Centro Inc. was selected as MBJ’s Small Business Awards (SBA) winner in the 25-75 employee category. We have grown since then to 103 employees and added new locations in Alabama. In 2016, I was honored to be recognized with MBJ’s Executive of the Year award. Ever since Centro was named an SBA finalist, we have relished the opportunity to participate in the process. The stories of the businesses and leaders who are recognized are inspiring and motivating. We also believe that the SBA awards showcase what moves our city and community forward. In Memphis, bad news is often what seems to get the most attention. However, the SBAs put a spotlight on the outstanding people who are investing blood, sweat and creativity into establishing and creating great businesses in our city. It is hard to overestimate the important role that well-run businesses make in the health of a community. One of the company's proudest achievements is that we've never had a layoff and have created more than 65 positions during the past 15 years. There is no secret sauce or unique wisdom that has moved Centro to success. We believe it is pretty simple. To quote Jim Collins from his book “Good to Great,” business is like a bus. First, you have to decide where you want to drive the bus. Then, you need to get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. In the first three months of 2002, we created a set of goals for Centro and set about implementing a strategy to move away from being a distributor of commodities to being a provider of customer-centric solutions. This strategy has guided the business as we grew from three locations to eight, acquired 11 companies and grew from 39 employees to 103. Everything we do, including acquisitions, training, recruitment and
compensation plans, is based on our business strategy of being a solutions provider. We also decided that we wanted to be a great place to work. We wanted employees to know that if the company did well, they would share in the growth. Through profit-sharing, 401(k) restructuring, commission and bonus plans and company-wide salary reviews, we have worked hard to make sure that a “rising tide raises all boats." This culture has resulted in very little employee turnover. The average length of service is 15 years. We were convinced that the secret of a successful company is providing an environment where people could feel like a valued member of a winning team. We often say that nobody really wants to do a bad job, so our commitment is to work hard together. The management consultant Peter Drucker once said, “Company culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and no matter how good your ideas are, it always comes down to the people on your team. We don’t believe that anyone wants to be on the losing team. Because disengaged or unmotivated employees are created by their environment, we work hard to: Treat people the way we would want to be treated; demonstrate appreciation and respect for our employees and between our employees; demonstrate that there are no unimportant jobs — we are all part of a team that pulls together on the same end of the rope; make sure that a rising tide raises all boats — we are all in this together and we share the tough and the good times; provide people with a consistency of purpose; and, make sure that people know that we are working in the collective best interests. At Centro, we serve two key constituencies: the customers who buy what we sell and the vendors who provide us with products to sell. If you have the right people, doing the right things and a clear vision of how everyone on your payroll will benefit by being successful, the job is a lot easier. Take care of the employees first, and they will take care of the customers and vendors. Then, all you have to do is work hard and consistently to drive your company forward. Since 2002, Centro has grown in total sales revenue by 500 percent and has been honoured to receive multiple awards recognizing our growth and achievement. But, none of that would have been possible had we not put our trust in our team, believed we could do it, together, and remained steadfast in our commitment to our strategy."

The original article can be found on the Memphis Business Journal's website here:
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