As a third-generation leader of the company his grandfather founded 65 years ago, Wildman Business Group CEO Josh Wildman knows something about growth. What started as a dry cleaning and laundry service has evolved into a diversified operation that now offers uniform and linen rental services, facility services, first aid and safety products, custom branded promotional products and apparel, and licensed sports specialty products.
In addition, Wildman Business Group recently celebrated the opening of a second location in Fort Wayne. This expansion allows the company to better serve customers and support its growing business. “We’re very excited about this new location,” says Wildman. “We’ve always been part of the greater Fort Wayne community, and now we are happy to call it our second home.”
That kind of growth doesn’t happen by accident. According to Wildman, the first step in achieving such impressive results is forming a plan. “We are blessed to have a CEO Emeritus who led us in developing the discipline and processes that helped us become who we are today,” says Wildman.
Having grown the company ten fold over the past 16 years, he shares the following principles to explain how Wildman Business Group continually achieves its goals.
1. What gets measured, gets managed.
It’s one thing to set goals; it’s another to understand the steps needed to reach them. “Every five years, our executive team works together to develop a strategic plan to guide us.” Wildman explains. “In addition, we create annual plans to support the strategic plan.”
Accountability is critical. “Involve your team in setting your goals and put them in writing,” says Wildman. “Develop a system of measurement and meet regularly, especially in the first 30 days, so you don’t give up.”
2. Communicate the plan and keep communicating it.
A key to executing any plan is effective communication, followed by regular accountability. “Most companies generate a lot of data, but they often don’t have their leaders report on it,” notes Wildman. Wildman Business Group teams meet weekly in what they call a temple of accountability to review goals and check alignment to the plan. Not only do they celebrate successes, but perhaps more importantly, they also talk about their failures and how they can improve.
3. Educate, enage, empower and encourage.
Everyone has to participate to ultimately “make the needle move.” Leadership educates each team about the goals, engages the right people for the right tasks, empowers them to own it, and encourages them along the way. While most businesses understand these concepts, many fail to provide the proper environment to foster truly healthy employees—inside and outside of work. Operating on four pillars of behavior (spiritual, mental, financial and wellness), Wildman provides employees and their families access to free services that include outside counseling, financial education through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program, and a YMCA membership. The company also offers a broad range of other enrichment and assistance programs. “At the end of the day,” explains Wildman, “business is really about people and building relationships. We want to be generous with our assets to create an environment where we empower employees and people can commit.”
4. Build and manage a positive culture.
Wildman Business Group has built a mission-driven culture that actively seeks to enrich the lives of its team members while providing purposeful service to customers. This kind of culture helps employees understand they are part of a team working toward a goal that is bigger than any one individual. One example of how they reinforce this is by offering employees the opportunity to earn extra time off to participate in service work, including a company-sponsored trip to the Dominican Republic. “Employees are encouraged to take time off to fuel a bigger purpose and truly be a difference-maker. These trips leave a lasting impression with employees, and many come home eager to make a difference both locally and abroad.”
5. Engage and give back to your community.
As a local company, community engagement is a dedicated, strategic effort for Wildman Business Group. “We’re a Christian company. We believe in the Golden Rule, and we are generous with our assets. We give away 20 percent of our earnings every year,” says Wildman. “Our team knows they are not working to just put money in the owners’ pockets. They believe that; they own it, and consequently, it has really accelerated growth and momentum, helping us meet our goals.”