Stories of Gumption is a regular column that profiles individuals who admirably demonstrate Gumption as we define it. These are the stories of real people who exhibit gumption in overcoming personal challenges, and validate the spirit of Gumption during their journey. Let’s take inspiration from those who seize 100% personal responsibility and show us how to live a life that exhibits Gump-like character traits worthy of applause!
Last Saturday, I was invited to speak at Lakeland Feed’s 2012 Employee Kickoff event. My task was twofold: Help focus the employees on the primary objective for the coming year. And secondly, showcase Lakeland Feed as the great company it is to all the employees and their families.
Lakeland Feed has experienced steady, consistent growth for more than a decade since being purchased by owner Mike Pflieger. The growth has hyperaccelerated during the past three years as sales have doubled during this period. Lakeland just received one of the seventy-five 2012 Blue Ribbon Small Business Awards®byU.S. Chamber of Commerce.
At its core, Lakeland Feed has created a business model based on gump-like values.
Lakeland Feed’s forty-plus employees demonstrate gump-like behaviors on a daily basis.
Lakeland Feed continues to produce gump-like results on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
Here are several reasons why Lakeland Feed has been successful and consistently strives to Function with Gumption.
- A management philosophy based on The Great Game of Business. The Great Game system is described in Jack Stack’s book of the same name. It features an open-book management philosophy in which every employee understands the company’s financial basics, participates actively in the performance process, and shares the risk rewards of failure or success.
- Lakeland’s gump-like values include: integrity, can-do attitudes, individual dignity, and respect for family.
- Many long-time employees have grown in their own personal development by stepping up and taking on new responsibilities within the company. These personal opportunities came as the result of real and immediate business needs. In most cases, the willingness of individuals to learn new skills has resulted in the company’s needs being met.
- Lakeland’s gump-like behaviors include: providing superior products, personalized service, old-fashioned hard work, and daily consistency.
- Last year, Lakeland faced an unexpected challenge when OSHA visited its mill operations and cited it with numerous safety violations. Pflieger and his team responded proactively. He is quoted in the Ravalli Republic, “We showed how you take a challenge like that – a major hurdle – and turn it into something positive that can move your business forward.”
- Lakeland’s gump-like results include: profitability, good community jobs, community service, and quality of life.
Similar to the challenges of many small companies, there are never enough resources to do everything that could and should be done. But at Lakeland Feed, a management philosophy and an employee can-do attitude always seems to get what needs to be done … and even Forrest Gump knows that that quality ain’t something you just find around the corner.
Lakeland Feed has already written many successful chapters in its twelve years since Pflieger purchased the company, refurbished the 100-year old mill, and expanded to three retail locations. My expectation is that many successful new chapters are still to be written by Lakeland Feed’s talented and growing team.
Lakeland Feed is a business that Functions with Gumption.
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Next Blog Date: March 15, 2012