TZL 1384 (web)


NORTHBOUND, from page 7

clients, and service offerings enabled us to share work between offices and employees depending on need. TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? JC: I don’t think there are failures – just opportunities that didn’t turn out right. My dad told me, “It will either work out or it won’t.” His point was to at least try. Never attack a problem without trying – or, trying something different. It may not work, but the lesson is to keep trying. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility as CEO? JC: The number one role of the CEO is be the head coach. There may be coaches running departments and various aspects of the operations, but the CEO is the leader. He sets the game plan, watches the clock, and keeps the schedule. It’s important to have the right people in place to accomplish the right things and the CEO makes sure it happens. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? JC: A good friend of mine said, “Work oughta be fun. If it’s not, you have a problem.” It’s a motto we try to follow to keep our employees engaged. Sometimes this means doing small, impromptu things that help people have a good day such as ordering donuts, handing out lottery tickets, or bringing in a food truck. We also believe work needs to be challenging; very few of our engineers do the same thing day-after-day. Finally, we reward people for their hard work. Sometimes this is a financial reward and other times it’s a kind word at the end of the day. Employees have a lot of different things going on in their world – it’s good to tell employees you appreciate them. I believe this is why we still have many employees who have been with us since day one. TZL: How has COVID-19 affected your business on a daily basis? JC: As I mentioned previously, COVID-19 has helped us begin to offer telecommuting and remote work options for our employees, increasing flexibility company-wide. However, it has also changed how we interact with and serve our clients. Many of our clients are working remotely as well and our communication has shifted virtually. While this works for informative reasons, it is a challenge to continue to build a trusting relationship over a Zoom call. Our team has needed to be more innovative to provide the same high-level of personal service to our clients now than in pre-COVID-19 times. Our managers have adjusted to how we support and assist our clients – whether through overnighting paperwork or talking more regularly via text and phone calls. COVID-19 has also impacted our cash flow. Because many clients are working remotely or still adjusting to this “normal,” the turnaround on invoices and projects has been negatively impacted. However, because we have a trusting relationship with our clients, we can talk openly and regularly about these challenges to avoid issues.

1)Technical and personal impacts. This discussion includes making sure we have the right people in place, along with determining what other resources we need (such as technology, equipment, and software). 2)Client management. Since many client interactions are now virtual, we need to make sure we’re connecting and supporting our clients with the right tools – adjusting our approach to match their changing needs. 3)Change in the industry. Our leadership team regularly discusses what we need to do to prepare our firm for fluctuations and impacts on the economy, as well as the possibility of another recession. Our efforts to address this national impact include making sure we have the right resources in place and are sharing work across offices. “Expanding into new markets and locations helped us to weather the Great Recession better than many of our competitors. Our diversified markets, clients, and service offerings enabled us to share work between offices and employees depending on need.” TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to say the least. What’s the key to ensuring a smooth passing of the baton? What’s the biggest pitfall to avoid? JC: I believe you start planning an exit strategy from the beginning. At Croy, I wanted to build a company that people would want to invest their time and sweat equity in to help grow. Passing the baton includes taking the time to ensure that the people who are going to have certain leadership duties are the right people for that job. For example, 12 years ago, I hired a non-engineer as our CFO, and it was one of my best decisions. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t an engineer – I needed someone who understood the financial side. Getting the right people in place on the right timetable is critical. The biggest pitfall to avoid, however, is not having all the right people on the same page. And, that takes time. My advice is to invest time and effort into making sure your key leadership team is all on the same page and don’t drift their separate ways. You’re all going on the northbound train. TZL: What’s been the most interesting firm evolution since its founding? Why? JC: The most interesting evolution at Croy has been our expansion into new markets and service areas. While my background is in transportation, Croy is a full-service firm. An interesting evolution for me has been the ability to be involved in other areas of engineering (aviation, water, and landscape architecture, for example). I believe this evolution is not only interesting, it’s vital to our success. For example, expanding into new markets and locations helped us to weather the Great Recession better than many of our competitors. Our diversified markets,

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