Auto Service World
News   November 18, 2003   by Auto Service World

The People Equation Tops List for Business Success


Getting the right people in place, taking care of the people who matter most in your life, and yourself, are the keys to success in business, attendees at the inaugural Young Executive Society conference heard today in Toronto.
The Young Executive Society is a wing of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, which holds its Annual Automotive Aftermarket Forum Wednesday.
“Balance, balance, balance. It is so easy for us to get offside,” says Richard Gaetz, president and CEO of Vitran Corporation, a half-billion dollar transportation and logistics company. He relayed a tale of trying to balance his developing personal relationship
“Your wife and your family have to be the most important in the long term. In the short term, it can be the reverse. In that way the legacy stinks because we are here for such a short time.”
You can succeed long-term in the extreme, but it is not a very fun legacy. We have all made a market on the company’s we work for, but ideally we have left a mark on the people we call our own. My passion in life outside of all these things is golf. I have a passion to get better. I like quiet time. I like my own time. But it s s24 hour day and balancing these is a hard thing.
“We are taxing our time. Our challenge is tough but we have to find a way to flourish.”
As hard as we work and as much as we want to succeed, he says, there is another half of our life, or maybe more than half, that we need to address. “And I say this is the spirit of being better business people.”
With a series of takeover and mergers behind him, Gaetz says he has an appreciation of the difficulty of integrating cultures and people, and,, in at least one case, putting the wrong person in a position of responsibility.
“One of my faults is that I lost my first senior executive in 14 years. That was the first departure we have had as a resignation”–on good terms–“and one of my faults is that I tend to be more patient with people who are good people who work hard. Sometimes good people are still the wrong people, they are still a square peg in a round hole.
“You can change people for a quarter or two, but you can’t change them forever. You have to get the right person.”
He makes his senior staff all take their holidays, except him. “It is a tale of hard work and overcoming a series of obstacles,” says Gaetz. “It doesn’t matter what you do, but none of it works if you can’t create an environment for the stakeholders to succeed.”


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