Executive Spotlight

Thom Dammrich, president, National Marine Manufacturers Association:
The biggest mistakes I have ever made have been hiring mistakes and sticking with poor performers too long. And, the worst of those was a CFO many years ago. Her sister had been one of my best hires and recommended her to me. I thought I was getting another great CFO who would be as good as the first sister was. Well, it was a disaster and I had to end up letting her go. It sounds kind of simple and something we all know, but siblings can be VERY different people. A good experience with one doesn’t guarantee a good experience with another. The good experience with the first sister also blinded me to some red flags that I should have seen. The moral of the story is: hire slowly and fire fast. Take your time to evaluate candidates, check background and references and do behavioral interviewing to try to get the right person. And, when things aren’t working out, admit it quickly and make a change.

Larry Russo Sr., owner, Russo Marine:
I guess my only regret or mistake is that I followed my father into the business and felt, because I worked by his side for many years, that I had acquired sufficient knowledge to run a successful and profitable business. Well, I am lucky to have survived. Even though I have a college education, I was ill-prepared for running a business. As a young man, I fooled myself into thinking I had enough knowledge. I did not. Once I found myself in the day-to-day trenches, I couldn’t get out. Instead of running a good business, the business was running me. Most of what I have learned has been from my involvement with trade associations and by learning best practices from other dealers. Not until my sons came into the business did I find time for some additional business management training. I do not regret the career path I have taken. I take great pride in my family, my business, our employees and our customers. I only wish I knew then what I know now. I might have been able to make more people a little happier along the journey.

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