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Most of us are familiar with the name Andrew Carnegie, the industrial giant and shrewd investor from over a century ago. We’ve heard he was a man who both acquired and then gave away enormous amounts of wealth and who said, “The man who dies rich thus dies disgraced.” Less known is how Carnegie was driven to pass on his secrets of success to generations to come by funding and mentoring 20 years of research that led to the writing of Napolean Hill‘s classic, “How To Think and Grow Rich”. Though plenty evidence of his selfish ambition exists, he clearly was an individual driven by a vision to leave the world in a better place than it was in when he entered it.

In the new economy we find ourselves in, the need for a sustaining vision is crucial to the survival of our companies. In 2007, our management team worked hard to get our core values defined and it resulted in a mission statement…

“Building solid concrete walls to serve and bring lasting benefit to the lives of our fellow employees, customers and community.”

It revealed our one key value with three areas of focus. We visualized them as a three legged stool…. all the legs need to be solidly in place or we end up flat on the ground! With the three remaining president’s letters I am privileged to write, I plan to share on each of those areas.

“To our employees… Training to develop a proprietor mentality.”

The question was how do we bring lasting benefit to an employee’s life? Was it best to “simply give them a fish, or teach them how to fish?” Business is really just an extension of the family, and as owners we desire to pass on the “family business” to the next generation. That means identifying those “sons and daughters” who are faithful in the little things and gradually entrusting them with more areas of responsibility. It means fostering those owner traits like optimism, enthusiasm, risk taking and self discipline. For example, an owner has to see beyond today’s job, thinking and planning ahead. An owner resists taking no as an answer but rather is creative in finding solutions when roadblocks appear. These are some of the many qualities we strove to recognize and develop in our employees’.

There is a caveat however. In many ways, this truly is a secret, available for all but not before one is ready. As Hill states in the preface, “It has not been directly named, for it seems to work more successfully when it is merely uncovered and left in sight, where those who are ready, and searching for it, may pick it up.”

So I encourage us all to model these traits ourselves, throwing in some patience when our expectations are not met. Let’s recognize and raise up those future owners who will soon lead our businesses and our industry.

Tim Parrish, CFA President, Cornerstone Foundations
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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us