A Company of Entrepreneurs
The 2018 SDM Systems Integrator of the Year stresses entrepreneurial spirit from top to bottom.
In a 2017 article in Investopedia, author Shobit Seth outlined “10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs.” They are: 1. Passion and motivation; 2. Not afraid to take risks; 3. Self-belief, hard work and discipline; 4. Adaptable and flexible; 5. Product and market knowledge; 6. Strong money management; 7. Effective planning (not over-planning) skills; 8. The right connections; 9. Exit preparedness; and 10. The ability to question themselves — but not too much.
As a company, Minneapolis-based LVC Companies Inc. meets every one of those criteria and more. In the process of interviewing several employees for this month’s cover article, nearly every one mentioned “entrepreneurial spirit” as a driving force for the company and a big reason why he or she joined LVC in the first place.
LVC is not only passionate and motivated about their customers; they are equally invested in their employees. Every new employee takes an aptitude test, which sometimes leads to surprising results, as was the case with Brian Gould, who interviewed for a position in HR, but was told he would hate it, based on the test. Instead the company made him a project manager, which was a much better fit. Today he is the company’s operation manager.
The company puts a premium on employee hiring and training, viewing training as a reward for its employees’ dedication. It also encourages employees to take risks. As Sales Manager Brian Kranz put it, “There is a culture of not telling people ‘no.’ It’s OK to fail, to make a mistake.”
LVC takes that to heart when it comes to its customers, as well. Many, if not most, of the company’s ventures over the years — from its start in 1982 as a new installation division of a fire suppression company, to its security division in 1996, to this year’s third-party commission service — have come from customer requests or needs. More often than not, LVC has chosen to find internal resources or create a new division, viewing it as an opportunity rather than a challenge.
“We are always adjusting for variables and looking for ways to keep challenging ourselves,” says Bert Bongard, LVC president and CEO. “The moment you think you have it all done and covered you are in trouble. My philosophy is to never be satisfied, always strive for more and look for ways to challenge yourself. I believe we are doing that.”
Bongard himself is an example of both effective planning and exit preparedness, taking over this year from the previous CEO in an organized, planned-for way that allowed for a smooth transition in leadership. But change as well as growth are never easy, no matter how well planned.
Bongard stresses communication at every level, and immediately instituted a communications committee to help with that. In addition, the company’s fast-paced success over the past few years led the leadership to make a few key decisions to deal with the growth. LVC deliberately slowed growth for two years to institute new ERP, roll out a rebrand and generally get everyone on the same platform to prepare for the next round of growth. And the company’s entrepreneurial spirit will likely get them there quickly.
“We are positioned very well for the near future for additional acquisitions, as well as expanding our geographical footprint,” Bongard says. “We have a lot of room to grow in all our divisions. We have staffed up very well and positioned ourselves for another run in 2019.”
These are just a few of the ways LVC meets the entrepreneurial top 10 criteria. If you read the article, which begins on page 42, I think you will agree they are truly a company filled with entrepreneurs. Let us know what you think by writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.