What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?
We pushed ourselves. We continued to expand geographically—significantly broadening our business base—thereby mitigating exposure and/or dependence in or on any one market. We reorganized and strengthened our regional leadership teams. And we further enhanced our industry-leading employee benefit offerings and employee training programs.
What will your company’s challenges be in the next year?
In the staffing industry, our greatest challenge—even in a depressed economy with escalating unemployment—is always finding enough highly qualified candidates to fill the permanent staffing needs required of our customers across our operating regions. Fortunately, we have been tremendously successful in this area.
From a business standpoint, whom do you look up to?
I look up to a lot of people and have had a couple of great mentors within the industry, but it all starts with my dad. Through simple observations, he has taught me many lessons in life, including the importance of planning, discipline, dependability, honesty, open communications, servant leadership and humility. In addition, he has also taught me that the customer is always the boss; the value of partnering with vendors; the importance of a sense of urgency; to trust and empower people; to develop and protect mavericks; to take action, be persistent and work hard; and most of all, that at the end of the day, my character and integrity will define my life.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Oh, I have been given a significant amount of great advice over the last 20 years. Probably the best business advice I have ever received is to hire to my weakness. We work very hard surrounding ourselves with the right people—placing significant emphasis on character, work ethic, intelligence, values and, of course, proven industry experience. As a result, we have developed a management team that complements each other very well.
What’s new in your company?
We are in the process of expanding to Pennsylvania at the request of a customer. Also, as a result of work we have recently been awarded by a major petrochemical company, we are preparing to announce a new specialty services division that will provide emergency security response services on a national basis in the event of natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes in the Gulf Coast) or catastrophic loss as well as security staffing services to major corporations involved in labor disputes and strikes.
Do you have a company mantra?
While we continue to expand at a rapid rate, at the core we are a very disciplined company with traditional Midwestern values and a very simple mission statement. We live up to our simple yet extremely challenging mission to deliver maximum value to our employees and customers by operating each and every day within the context of our core values—truth telling, promise keeping, respect, loyalty, empowerment, discipline, leadership, flexibility, quality assurance and results—and our business principles—100% client satisfaction, 100% employee satisfaction, customized service delivery and enduring philosophical consistency. The people of Whelan Security are expected to be good, moral men and women of honor and integrity who understand the difference between right and wrong. In our company, integrity carries beyond the workplace and into our personal lives. We are defined by the people with whom we choose to affiliate.
What has made you successful in your industry?
First and foremost, it is not about personal success within the industry. It is about the success of the team, my family, my partners, my co-workers, colleagues and customers. A little more than 20 years ago, I engaged a coach and consultant to help us refine our strategic plan. Although at the time we were enjoying significant success from a growth perspective, we were also encountering natural growing pains, especially because of growth outside of St. Louis. The consultant helped bring perspective to our objectives and taught us that we could achieve results on purpose. With their help, we developed a Balanced Scorecard performance measurement system for our branch office system that complemented our industry-leading quality assurance performance metric system used throughout many of our accounts. As a result, we were able to instill discipline, patience, persistence and a good sense of timing related to strategic opportunity throughout the company.
What do you like to do in your free time?
My wife and peers would tell you that I don’t have any free time and that I struggle to find balance in my life. However, when I have free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, hunting and anything related to the outdoors.