DOY Finalist: Six Robblees
After seeing some of his customers close up in 2009, Andy Robblee, president of Six Robblees’ Inc., says his business is starting to have some growing pains. “We have to add services, add people and add inventory as the market has started to come back,” he says.
Communicating The Vision
Robblee has a clear vision of not only how he wants to deal with these current growing pains but for the business overall. His challenge is to communicate that vision to the other 170 people who work at Six Robblees.
“I [have to] communicate the direction I see the company needing to go in. I have to make the employees passionate about it so they can communicate back up stream and see that we want to go in this direction but we need to make a couple of changes. If we do this, I see opportunities for us.”
- The communication process can be encumbered by the geographic distance between the company’s locations. “We have branches in Billings, Seattle, Oakland and Fairbanks,” Robblee says. “So geographically the distance is huge, and the problem is you can’t cover that distance in a short period of time.”
Hiring & Training
Robblee believes that people are his most important asset.
“Often we hire people who are good, quality people with tons of ability but who might not know the particulars of our business,” he says. Robblee says it can take many years to develop all the aspects of how to be a good counterperson, salesperson or manager.
Plus there has to be an understanding of customers, vendor relationships, employee-to-employee relationships and teamwork. “So training in all aspects is necessary,” Robblee says.
“We all need refresher courses; we continually have to provide education and not get too confident that we got this last year and we are good for a while.”
Robblee says he is fortunate to have a good team to help with training. “We have a very strong management team at the branches and in Seattle. There are many people working on different aspects of training, which is great because it gives us a constant reminder that we can’t expect employees to know everything. We have to coach them, teach them, encourage them and be supportive of them,” he says.