"Driving Ownership and Growth in a Competitive Environment"
Smart Electronics and Lark Engineering
Over the last 15 months Bob Swelgin has brought together four companies and acquired a product line from a fifth company. The total business has grown over 20% and is on plan to grow another 20% this year.
Managing any business is difficult. It is particularly challenging to keep everyone on the same page and all moving in the same direction when acquiring and putting together small businesses with different cultural backgrounds and business philosophies.
Bob's presentation will be on how he overcame these challenges to create a trusting and progressive environment where everyone in the company can be called on to interface with the customers without concern - where people feel a sense of ownership and look forward to celebrations when targets are hit and feel some responsibility when those targets are missed.
Bob's management style can be summed up as inclusion, reward and stick to commitments. Some ways he has put his philosophy into action include:
- Make sure everyone knows the customer is the focus.
- Reward people for business growth.
- While salaries are kept on the lower end of competitive, potential quarterly commission sharing can get folks excited and makes everyone a salesman from the janitor through the executive team.
- Provide a very pleasing place to work with visible changes evident to all at least every two months... from LEAN events to cosmetic changes that employees see as positive progress.
With this approach a situation of trust was created that resulted in the movement of products and services from the US to our Mexico facility being supported because the team firmly believed it was the right thing to do to grow the companies.
Bob Swelgin is an experienced operator and deal maker. His first acquisition effort was working with Texas Instruments in 1988, and his skills were later honed as VP and Country President with Tyco in Asia, where he built a business structure in Asia from near scratch via three acquisitions.
After repatriating from Asia, Bob joined a small family office in Phoenix where he supported an acquisition as operator, then sold it two years later. After a 5 year stint as COO of Panasonic Automotive, Bob got back in the M&A action as CEO of American Racing Equipment in Los Angeles, where two bolt-on acquisitions followed.
Post American Racing, Bob worked all ends of the transactions, from locating targets to recruiting funding, and then running the businesses. He experienced the lows of last second deal crashes, poor financial partners and bi-polar founders, to the highs of closing 4 acquisitions in the last 12 months while driving an organic growth over 30% with outstanding financial partners.
Bob's love is the hands-on management, the pulling together that small businesses allow. He stays away from the large company bureaucracies, and instills a philosophy and ownership process that results in a happy workforce and a growing organization.
Bob has a business degree from the University of South Carolina and did graduate work in engineering at Southern Methodist University and executive studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.