a Summit Materials company
CONTINUING A LEGACY
This concept was brought home to me when I participated in Advance Kansas. Our focus was diversity and inclusion and the strengths that these qualities bring to a company. I learned so much about myself and about the broader issues that are going on in the world. The issues we face locally are issues that every city, state, and country deals with. It’s easy for people to recruit for what they know, for people like them. But it’s important to have team members with alternate viewpoints, other sets of eyes with different experiences and backgrounds. In studies of group dynamics, the groups who have nothing in common — who are more diverse — score much higher than groups who are very similar. Connecting with and bolstering our community is part of the Cornejo & Sons mission. Our President, Georges, puts this into practice every day. He was the one who encouraged me to join Advance Kansas. It’s one of the organizations that’s leading the Stepping Up and Honing My Strengths for the Team
of people here, and a lot of us come from a competitive sports background. In our commercial construction group, howwe do as a team relates to howwe’re supporting each other as individuals. Everyone has strengths, and being a leader is about recognizing the strengths of our individual teammembers and helping them use those strengths to their advantage. As a team, you have to be ready to adjust and be flexible to the market. We’ve done a good job of that based on the leadership within our company. We’re pushed to challenge ourselves and not be stagnant. We’re also lucky to have a very supportive mother company in Summit that allows us to innovate and implement new technology. It’s the same way within the bigger company — we work together as team in a vertically integrated company. Like any team, you don’t want all the players to have the same strengths — you want players who excel at layups, others who will always get the rebound and shoot, others who get every free throw. You want a diverse group of talented individuals. That’s what makes you successful as a team.
Every day, I strive to continue the legacy that my supervisor started in the commercial paving industry within the framework Cornejo & Sons established. We have a list of priorities that are always top of mind. To be a leader in this industry, providing excellent customer service is at the top of that list. Safety is always a paramount priority, as is quality control and productivity. These are the values that we’ve instilled in the company since the beginning. Our drive to succeed never comes at the cost of these values. My supervisor had been with our company and in the industry for over 40 years, and when he retired, he left big shoes to fill, and I was promoted into his role. It was a blessing, of course, but it also came with a daunting question: How do you continue the legacy of someone with so much knowledge and experience? Having a strong mission and set of values helps make stepping into a new role easier — I knowwhat we stand for at Cornejo & Sons, and it’s what guides each decision I make. Mymanagement style correlates to the team atmosphere that I was surrounded bywhile playing baseball. We have a quality group
way in boosting our local economy and market. We’re looking to change the dynamics of the world we’re living in, and that starts locally, right here, with our company. –Blake Blasi
Giving Back to the Community’s Youth
One thing that Cornejo strives to do is to give back to the community that has supported them from the very beginning. Over the past five years, Cornejo has worked to form a positive relationship with Anderson Elementary, a school located near the office. “I feel like we are such an integral part of this neighborhood — it’s our neighborhood,” says Randy Roths, Cornejo’s community outreach director. “Much of what we do impacts the neighborhood.”
Roths, along with the rest of Cornejo, recognized that there was a need to be filled in the community and took the opportunity to do so.
“We drive by that neighborhood every day, not looking to the left and not seeing the need that is just outside our doorsteps,” says Roths.
Many of the children attending Anderson are from lower-class families who have difficulty providing the necessary supplies their students need for school. That is where Cornejo steps in. Each year, the company organizes a school supply drive, collecting everything from pencils and crayons to backpacks and cash donations. “We saw a desperate need in our neighborhood, and we were able to take care of it,” Roths says. “There is only so much that teachers can do to help their students. They can’t do it all.” This year, Cornejo partnered with the Mending Place in South City, a local church, in addition to tying the drive with Bring Your Kid to Work Day to help bolster donation levels. “It was kind of refreshing to tie another group into it this year. They had new and fresh ideas, which inspired me to do better,” Roths says. Cornejo’s involvement at Anderson goes beyond supplying classrooms at the beginning of each school year. The company also does a bike giveaway at the end of each semester to a student with perfect attendance.
“Attendance is a big problem at Anderson,” Roths says. “The principal feels our program helps motivate kids to come to school.”
Additionally, in partnership with Lubrication Engineers and United Way of the Plains, Cornejo has sent volunteers to Anderson as part of the Read to Succeed program for at-risk third grade students. According to United Way, third grade is a pivotal year in determining the reading performance of children. “When we have students who are not reading at grade level by third grade, the data tells us that they are four times less likely to graduate from high school,” says Dr. Alycia Thompson, USD 259 superintendent.
To help students read at grade level, volunteers spend 30 minutes each week reading with a buddy from a Wichita elementary school.
“We had eight volunteers from the office for our first year. It’s a big commitment — it’s tough, but it is necessary — and we had some great success with the kids,” Roths says. Whether it is sitting down and spending time with students, providing motivation for success, or supplying them with the tools they need, Cornejo continues to work toward creating an atmosphere of support and success for the children in their local neighborhood.
THE PERILS OF THE ‘OVERPROMISE, UNDERDELIVER’ MENTALITY
Don’t Set Your Team up for Failure
So how do you avoid these pitfalls? The best place to start is by bonding the actions of your company and its teams to the values that make your business successful. Another key is to have confidence in the culture of your company. Many leaders succumb to the idea of overpromising and underdelivering out of fear. If you’ve created a dynamic that breeds creativity, accomplishment, and growth, you’ll never have to make promises in the first place.
talent from small companies. This threat of losing employees causes many small-business owners to overpromise and underdeliver in their internal communications. Making promises you can’t keep to employees results in a high turnover rate, low morale, and lack of trust. RECRUITING The competitive job market has led to aggressive headhunting for top candidates. But in some cases, aggressive recruiters promise grandiose perks and unsustainable work environments. Just as with a sales client, overpromising and underdelivering is a sure way to set new employees up for failure. When you perpetuate a facade of what your company can actually provide, you open the door for disappointment and regret. The consequences become evident when employees leave or cultivate negativity within your team.
While trying to woo your next big client, it can be easy to get caught up in doing whatever it takes to close a sale. What starts as a simple pitch can quickly turn into promising the moon if you let it. Starting down this slippery slope creates unreasonable expectations and sets your relationship with your prospect up for failure. When you overpromise and underdeliver, you develop a system of dysfunction that fosters lukewarm clients you won’t retain. But lost sales won’t be the only consequence; you’ll also form a culture of dysfunction within your team. RETENTION Employee retention should be at the top of every business owner’s mind. Depending on your industry, a new hire can cost thousands — even tens of thousands — of dollars. In light of today’s strong economy and low unemployment rate, many large businesses have shifted their hiring strategies to poach
TAKE A BREAK
Cornejo & Sons invites you to join us for a free lunch & learn on Thursday, Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a presentation on Steel Fiber Reinforced Concrete: A Better Technology. To register, go to eventbrite.com/e/lunch- learn-steel-fiber-reinforced-concrete-a-better-technology- tickets-48659373496. Matt Norman of Concrete Fiber Solutions will be joining us to discuss the history of steel fiber and the design, applications, and practical aspects involved in mixing, placing, and finishing. We will then hear from Neal Morris, QA/QC Leader at CMC, as he shares practical applications of steel fiber being installed right here in the Wichita area. Topic: Steel Fiber Reinforced Concrete: A Better Technology Date/Time: Thursday, Oct. 11 | 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Where: Venue 3130 | 3130 West Central Avenue FREE LUNCH AND LEARN
This event qualifies for continuing education credits! Please RSVP so we can have an accurate count for food.
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2060 E. Tulsa St. Wichita, KS 67216
a Summit Materials company
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Stepping Up for the Team Giving Back to the Community’s Youth Why ‘Overpromise, Underdeliver’ Is Never a Good Strategy Join Us for Lunch! Can You Say No to a Client?
3 Ways to Say No Without Losing a Customer WHEN YOU CAN’T SAY YES
possible. Clients can be more accepting when they understand something better.
request. Avoid the fear of letting your client down by referring them to another place where they can get what they need. This way, you get to say no while still being the person who helps the client get what they want.
Has a client ever asked you for something you didn’t have the resources to provide? Have you ever had a request to do something that’s against company protocol? Do clients want you to bend over backward on a task that isn’t worth the ROI? On these occasions, you are perfectly justified in saying no. But clients rarely like being turned down, so it’s important to learn to say no without losing a paying customer. OFFER ALTERNATIVES Maybe a client has asked for something you don’t traditionally offer. Unless this is a rare opportunity to branch out and begin offering a new service to all clients, it doesn’t make sense to run yourself ragged fulfilling a niche
MAKE CLIENTS FEEL HEARD In every interaction, people want to feel listened to. Even when you have to say no to a client, making sure they feel heard and respected can go a long way toward maintaining that goodwill. Acknowledge the issue they are having, empathize with their frustration, and make sure your client knows you are listening by using their name and saying, “I understand.” You can’t say yes to every request, but you can remind clients that you value their support and appreciate the effort it took for them to contact you. Saying no is not bad customer service. When you take the time to say it the right way, you’re actually doing the client a favor because it means you aren’t wasting their time.
ASK FOR CLARIFICATION If you have changed anything in your
company, be it the software interface on your website or your pricing structure, you may have frustrated clients who demand things go back to the way they were before. Since that’s not an option, try to determine exactly what they are upset about. By asking a client why they prefer the old way, you might learn that they are having trouble accessing important information in your new software or that the new price increase is beyond their budget. Armed with this information, you can hopefully find a solution for what’s really troubling them. This is also a good time to explain the reason behind the change, if
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