With the persistence of uncertainty in the economy, sometimes it's just nice to hear a success story, such as the story of Tony Lee, co-owner of Ring Masters, a manufacturer of engine rings in Massillon, OH. Lee was recently featured on the Yahoo! Driven blog for how he went from janitor at the factory when it was owned by diversified manufacturer Eaton Corp. to co-owner when Eaton slated the factory for closure in 2002.
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The entire story is interesting – Lee wasn't a millionaire or even a college graduate when he set about to save the factory and his job. But it was something at the end of the piece that really caught my eye:
"And he's still inspiring his co-workers and employees by working side-by-side with them on the factory floor. Tony says he 'leads by example' and would never ask an employee to do a job he wasn't willing to do."
We've heard it time and time again: Workers pay attention to what leaders pay attention to, what they measure and what they control. If they see you putting your blood, sweat and tears into the company, they're more likely to be inspired to go above and beyond as well.
Lee's success is tangible: Nine years after convincing a group of investors to join with him in buying the company, it now has annual sales of more than $4 million and plans for expansion.
The leaders' actions embed culture in an organization. And culture is a key element for success in distribution – David Sandler, CEO of MSC Industrial Supply called it the "secret sauce" of the company in an interview with MDM.
And I'm certain it played a key role in Ring Masters' success.