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Leading By Example


I recently read an article about the CEO of Minneapolis based Graco and their CEO Pat McHale.  The article did a great job introducing Mr. McHale and his dedication to the company, relationship with employees, and some of his philosophies on management, leadership, and business.  They include:

  1. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE YOU START, ONLY THAT YOU HAVE A GOAL AND A DIRECTION.  Mr. McHale started at Graco more than 25 years ago when he left a job at a manufacturing company to become the night-shift supervisor.  A machinist by trade, he earned his degree in accounting while working the night shift.  During his first review, he entered “CEO” to the question of desired job title.  I love hearing stories about employees working their way up through the ranks.  You don’t need a fancy degree or deep pockets to be ambitious and persistent.
  2. BEING A GOOD PERSON GOES A LONG WAY.  “He (McHale) has written more than 1,000 thank-you notes and mailed them to employee homes.”  The CEO of a billion-dollar          company has a lot on his mind.  Revenue, margin, stock price, global economy, etc….you’d think there’d be an administrative assistant who can handle birthday cards and sympathy notes.  Doing the small things as a manager, foreman, president, or CEO, regardless of company size, is the best way to keep talent and boost morale.  It’s not difficult but can always be overlooked.
  3. COMMON SENSE ISN’T SO COMMON.  In my experience as a business owner, many problems can be solved with simple solutions.  Sometimes it’s easier to believe problems are hard so we can have more meetings, spend more resources, and exhaust more effort rather than implementing a solution.  McHale “once ordered managers to install vending machines in a small plant when he learned that workers had to walk a few minutes to use vending machines in a larger facility on the Riverside campus.”  You may not think this is a problem.  You may not think this was something the CEO should worry about.  My theory is this small simple solution lead to happier employees, less down time, and more production on the shop floor.

Pat McHale seems to be a great role model for anyone in a management position.  His ability to relate and appreciate employees at all levels of business while leading a manufacturing juggernaut through impressive growth all while keeping investors happy is no easy task.  Take a moment to reflect on your past days, weeks, months, and years and how you have carried yourself as a co-worker, manager, leader.  What would you do differently?  What were you proud of?  What legacy are you leaving?

The entire article about CEO Pat McHale of Graco can be found here.

This piece was written by Jesse Schelitzche, president of Imagineering Machine Inc.  Imagineering Machine Inc. is a precision machine job shop located in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota.  Mr. Schelitzche is also on the board of directors for the Minnesota Precision Manufacturers Association (MPMA).  Founded in 1984, Imagineering Machine Inc. specializes in close tolerance, short-run, quick turn machined parts for the medical device, electronics, aerospace, and industrial markets.