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Codifying business principles helps lead manufacturer to success

A FINFROCK patented section of floor heads out of the company's Apopka plant to Naples where it will be integrated into a new hotel being developed by the company.
A FINFROCK patented section of floor heads out of the company's Apopka plant to Naples where it will be integrated into a new hotel being developed by the company.(Teresa Burney)

Robert Finfrock thought all his employees understood all the guiding principles of his company, FINFROCK, a vertically integrated manufacturer of pre-cast/pre-stressed concrete panels and erector of concrete parking garages, hotels, and multi-family dwellings.

Then, some 25 years ago, an employee came to him questioning whether or not they should refund a customer for several thousand dollars of work he paid for but, in the end wasn't needed and wasn't done. Just a week before he had given a talk about the company's guiding principles.

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"It shocked me," said Finfrock.  "All of us think that everybody understands what you understand, but it's not true. This guy should have known this. He has worked here for 10 or 15 years."

So he decided to write down all the company's principles: Guiding, Strategic, Management, Operational, and Individual. Then he put them on the walls.

"We really do need to lay these things out, the expectations, so people will understand them,"  Finfrock said.  "They are not going to understand them by osmosis."

Codifying the company's culture, business ethics, operations, goals and strategies has made all the difference in the company that has since grown to be one, if not the, biggest builder of free-standing concrete parking garages in the country as well as a manufacturer that has cracked the code to become a vertically integrated commercial contractor (see story).

Constantly employees and managers refer back to the company's principles when they have ideas, to see if they fit into the principles. Yearly, the principles are reassessed to make sure they are still cogent or if they need tweaking.

"Every year, whenever we are coming up with our strategic plan for the year, we cross check plans with the goals and ask ourselves 'Does it fit?'" said Gail Kroll, Finfrock's executive vice president of marketing.

"It keeps you from making bad decisions," said Finfrock.

Finfrock offers his company's list as an example. Obviously other companies will have different goals, different principles, or additional tenets that they find important.

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PURPOSE

To experience the challenge, pride and rewards of design-manufacture-construct.

VISION

Dominate the mid-rise building market.

MISSION

To provide exceptional customer value by delivering buildings as a product rather than as a series of services.

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CORE COMPETENCY

The ability to provide exceptional customer value by delivering a complete project solution using our design-manufacture-construct process.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

Practice Integrity in all that we do

Demonstrate a commitment to Excellence

Treat all individuals with Respect

Ensure our future by expanding our Knowledge

STRATEGIC PRINCIPLES

Use Differentiation to escape commodity competition

Deliver Benefits to customers to ensure company growth

Use Innovation to create value

Practice Long-term Thinking to ensure company success

Strive for Win/Win relationships

Use Vertical Integration to create customer value

Embrace Product and Process Simplicity to improve productivity

Develop Relationships to create opportunities

Monetize our Intellectual Property

Maximize Repetition to lower costs

Use Design, Manufacture, Construct Knowledge to optimize economics, functionality, and aesthetics

Offer Customers what they need not what they ask for

Provide Guaranteed Price at little or no cost to customers

Use efficient Systems Integration to reduce project costs and increase speed

MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLES

Use Positive Reinforcement to improve behavior

Use Objective Thinking to optimize decision making

Use Training to increase safety and productivity

Use Measurement to control and improve processes

Use Planning to enhance success

tburney@growthspotter.com or 407-420 6261

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