Celebrating 50 years in business is a major accomplishment, and if there is one thing I believe has gotten Genie to this point, it’s the people. It’s the single biggest factor in our business. In fact, if there is one theme from Genie from the early days when it was Bud Bushnell starting out in his garage to today, it’s that our business has been built on personal connections with people — our employees, our customers and our market.
When working with most companies, a customer has a relationship with a salesperson, and maybe that person’s boss, but that’s where the company’s involvement ends. The customer gives the salesperson an order, the product arrives, it’s priced, it’s available for rent/sale and that’s it. The customer doesn’t deal with the person who creates the marketing… or the person engineering the product… or the person running the company.
In our business, this is what differentiates Genie — we are a very flat organization, and we encourage our customers to have a relationship with everyone in our organization. Our philosophy is “go to the place, go to the person, go to the process.” For example, our customers are invited to visit us in Redmond (or any of our factories) anytime. And, they can talk with anyone in our company — from to our President, Matt Fearon, to an engineer or production person, to our marketing department and, of course, our entire sales team, not just one sales rep — whenever they want, about what’s most important to them. Our customers can ask questions of any of these folks and really get to know them (if they want that kind of relationship with our business). Not surprisingly, what we’ve found over the years is that this business tactic creates a major sense of customer satisfaction in working with us. Even when something has happened to the equipment in the field, for example, our customers don’t just tell their salesperson, “You did it wrong.” They can pick up the phone and call someone like Matt Fearon at the top and say, “You did it wrong,” And conversely, they also call us up to tell us what’s going right. I’ve overheard customers call in and say, “We’re making money with your equipment. Thanks a lot.”
We’re pretty easy to communicate with, from management to engineering and manufacturing to sales to service. We all feel personally responsible for our customers’ successes, as well as our own. Personal and professional responsibility go hand in hand. For example, Bud Bushnell and his successors weren’t just interested in making money and going off to the Bahamas. They all had the same goals and work ethic as the rest of us — we’re making tools for people to use to do their jobs. They were product guys, which is another connection between our past and our present, and they were focused on helping each other succeed. Think about it: Bud (Bushnell) sold the company to his son-in-law, who brought his brother-in-law into the company, who brought his best friend into the company. Those three amigos owned and ran the company until 2002. Their bond to family and friends carried into the culture they built for the company — if you’re going to be approachable by your employees, carry that through to be approachable to your customers.
It’s a clever business tactic, and I can tell you, it’s the real deal.