A little over a year ago, I submitted a post citing research that Vistage CEOs outperformed their non-member peers. (https://theleadershipcatalyst.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/research-backs-claims-that-vistage-ceos-outperform-their-nonmember-peers). The bottom line of that article was that
“… in one of the toughest economies in history, Vistage member companies averaged 5.8 % revenue growth, while nonmembers averaged a (9.2%) revenue decline. In future posts, we will explore the factors that contribute to that sizeable performance difference.”
The purpose of today’s post is to make good on that promise. Most of the CEOs who have been in the Vistage Peer Group that I chair have seen significant improvements in their business since they joined. Our group currently has 18 members from a diverse set of industries and backgrounds and businesses that range in size from $5M to over $800M in annual revenues. To better understand how belonging to Vistage increased their effectiveness and enhanced their lives, I took a little flip camera to one of our monthly executive coaching sessions and asked them. (To see all 12 videos, click on the CEO VIDEOS tab at the top of the page.)
For purposes of this blog post, I selected the responses of 3 CEOs from varying company sizes, industries, and business models. Some were struggling a year ago, and others were doing well. All are doing better now and point to their Vistage membership as a key factor in their successes. Below is a brief outline of their situations and links to their 2 minute YouTube videos where they share how Vistage made a difference.
Gene Earhart is the CEO of Wellington Security Systems, a small family business (< $5M) he owns and operates in partnership with his brother-in-law. Gene is a lifelong entrepreneur, who decided to start this business with his family before finishing college. His company designs, installs, and services electronic security systems for the commercial market, and they have 10 employees in a single location. He credits Vistage with helping him turnaround his company to achieve the most profitable year in their 30-year history.
Click here to see a 2 minute YouTube video of Gene telling his story.
Mike Martin is the CEO and owner of Carlson & Stewart Refrigeration ($10 – $25M), which designs, installs, and services industrial and commercial refrigeration systems. An engineer by training, he has worked most of his career at his company, and bought it and became CEO about 8 years ago. Based in Marshall MN, he has about 50 employees in 3 locations in Minnesota and South Dakota. He says that he would not have been able to double the size of his business last year without Vistage.
See Mike’s 2 minute YouTube video by clicking here.
Jim Fisher is the CEO of Midwest Sign, a privately owned business ($100M+) that distributes sign making equipment and supplies. They have about 200 employees in 9 locations throughout the western half of the U.S.. Jim is trained as an accountant, and has spent most of his Career with Midwest. He was thrust into the CEO position about 5 years ago with the sudden and unexpected death of the beloved company owner and founder. After being pounded by the recession, he and his team have hit the restart button on their growth engine, and last year they achieved double-digit growth and record profitability. He points to Vistage as helping him become more strategic, getting him more on top of the business, and showing him how to get a lot more done in less time.
Click here to see more about how Vistage has helped Jim elevate his game as a CEO.
A key theme that cuts across all of these stories is that “None of us is as smart as all of us”. Having an advisory board of fellow CEOs that have your back and challenge your thinking is a tremendous competitive advantage.