As we celebrated Genie turning 50 in 2016, a lot of people asked what our secret was; how have we succeeded in the aerial industry for over 50 years? If it’s a secret, it’s the worst kept one in the industry because we don’t shy away from admitting that the foundation of our company is a focus on people — our team members and our customers. Our company culture is built on trust and respect, it’s about listening and paying attention to people, and acting on what they need.
This culture has been around since Bud Bushnell founded the company in 1966, and I continue to instill a humbleness in all the leaders we have today. We maintain an open door policy at all levels of the business to make sure everyone, from our welders and assemblers on the shop floor to our smallest and our largest customers, feels like they're on the same playing field as everybody else. We give everyone the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas, and that’s the power.
Here’s a great example of that: One of the other things we've done in our factories is implement Lean philosophies and practices. And, the thing I love about Lean is that it is education-based. It doesn't matter what level of education you come in with, if you teach people the fundamentals of what we're trying to do with Lean — and you tell them we want your ideas — you get this huge base of ideas and creativity that really drive what you're doing for continuous improvement. By leveraging our whole workforce to make changes, we are better.
This approach applies to our customer relationships too. Admittedly, there have been times in our company’s history where we've gone through tough economic cycles, and it's been hard for the organization. But even in these downturns, we didn't disappear from the customer standpoint. In other words, we didn't pull back on providing them parts and service, and the things that they needed. They were experiencing tough times, too. So, we never allowed ourselves to get into a position where we couldn't help them out to the best of our abilities.
Another thing our founders did that I have always appreciated is that they used to say openly, "We take our business seriously, but we don't take ourselves seriously." In other words, it was okay to have fun. It was okay for people to enjoy coming to work. It didn't have to be an uptight environment. And, our customers see that. They see the passion that our team members have about our business, and it sells. We love having customers visit our campus because they always say, "Wow, what are you feeding your people? Everybody is happy there." Our customers appreciate our positivity, our respect and our trust in our team members, and they see that in our relationships with them too. Because of this, they're willing to stick with us through the good times and the not-so-good times.
So, when it comes down to it, our secret is that it’s all about the people. It’s a foundation that started over 50 years ago, and it’s only getting stronger.