Entrepreneur shared tips for success at TRIDEC luncheon

Strong, healthy companies bring economic stability and growth to communities. That was the message Tom Nault, president and chief operating officer of Summit Imaging, Inc., delivered during an October TRIDEC luncheon.

[blockquote quote=”“A successful company balances on four points: employees, shareholders, suppliers and customers.” align=”right” max_width=”300px” source=”Tom Nault, president and chief operating officer of Summit Imaging, Inc.”]

The Grow Manufacturing Luncheon and Expo highlighted the expanding industrial base in the Tri-Cities in the fields of engineering, construction, transportation, supply chain consulting and promotional products. The keynote speaker, Nault, founded three successful startup companies in food technology, intellectual property and software development. He heads up Summit Imaging in Woodinville and serves as an advisor to international companies.

During his presentation, Nault stressed the importance of creating a culture of achievement, appreciation and respect within a business. “A successful company balances on four points: employees, shareholders, suppliers and customers. You have to treat all these people well and bring them together if you really want your corporation to be excellent and to grow,” Nault said. When hiring employees, it’s key to look for people who are already motivated, because it’s easier to control a person’s energy than it is to motivate someone to do something. lso, when structuring your organization be sure to have jobs that allow your employees to grow and move forward in their careers.

“If they only do that one job you hired them for you will not be able to grow your organization effectively,” he said. You don’t want your company to plateau. Properly motivated people are always looking for something new, looking ahead. It’s always fun to do more and more interesting projects than it is to stagnate, Nault said. “If you are building an organization that’s to survive, you’ve really got to be thinking ahead…so you can be competitive in the marketplace. And that starts with a vision. You have to have a vision of where you’re going and what you intend to accomplish. If you have no vision, you are not going to go anywhere,” he said.

Nault stressed hiring employees who accept responsibility. You don’t want people who are always pointing a finger at someone else when something goes wrong. “You want someone who’s willing to say, ‘It’s my fault, let’s fix it,’” he said. Also, be cautious of hiring people who don’t like change. Organizations often get stuck and don’t evolve and that marks the beginning of the end for a business. “Without change, it’s going to be very difficult to do the things necessary to move your business to the next level, to remain competitive,” he said. Those are traits CEOs also have to cultivate.

All too often when a company goes bankrupt, it’s because everyone was ignoring the telltale signs and then suddenly, one day, things just go south. When that happens, Nault said, all too often the fault lies with the CEO. “And this is not to say the CEO isn’t good, but it starts with the CEO because so much of the culture in an organization is created around the CEO. Sometimes when CEOs run into trouble they start blaming other people,” he said. And many times it’s the CEO who balks at making changes.

“They don’t want to do something different, to try a new approach because this is what they’ve always done and this is what they like to do and change is uncomfortable, Nault said. CEOs also need to listen to employees, Nault added. Who, he asked, hasn’t had an issue with a CEO who thinks they know everything and no one can tell them anything? “Sometimes some of the lowest ranking people in the company smell the fire long before anybody else and the CEO just doesn’t want to make the change. So the CEO has to grow with the organization,” Nault said.

Finally, he said, it’s important to treat your employees, your suppliers, your stockholders and your customers very, very well. “Be a human being. Treat them as you want to be treated,” Nault. One of the Tri-Cities’ internationally known manufacturers, Carbitex was honored with the Impact Washington Manufacturer of the Year Award during the luncheon. Impact Washington is a not-for-profit organization that helps Washington manufacturers and manufacturing compete globally. They offer expert consulting, training programs, educational and industry events and resources to help increase profits, develop people, help manufacturers to be more sustainable and build their business.

Accepting the award was Junus Khan, founder and CEO of the business located in the Port of Kennewick’s Oak Street Industrial Site. Since it was founded in 2011, Carbitex has become the market leader in flexible carbon fiber technology working with companies worldwide.

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