AggMan of the Year 2012
By Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
Visionary leaders are often recognized for their creativity, integrity, and ability to impact others, says Mark Fernandes, chief leadership officer of Luck Companies. However, there are two additional qualities he would add to the list of important characteristics of a visionary leader: foresight and courage. All are qualities easily found in Charles S. (Charlie) Luck IV, the 2012 AggMan of the Year.
Since Luck became the president and chief executive officer of the family business in 1995, Luck Companies has expanded to include four businesses — Luck Stone, the aggregate business; Charles Luck, an architectural stone business; Har-Tru Sports, a manufacturer of clay tennis courts; and Luck Development Partners, a real estate business.
“Our organization grew from 1991 to 2000 and had record-setting growth during that period,” Luck says. “We tripled the number of employees, we tripled sales, and we improved profitability by a factor of nine.” While the business results are impressive, what is even more interesting is the company’s mission to leverage the strength of its people.
In the midst of fast-paced growth, Luck said he focused so much effort on the financial side of the business that he forgot the lesson handed down from his grandfather to his father and from his father to him: people are important, not only to the value of a business, but also to its financial success. “We had lost sight of these fundamental beliefs,” Luck says.
Another side effect to rapid corporate growth was a leadership team, comprised of 12 executives, that wasn’t working very well together. “We were setting fantastic goals and hitting new records on the financial side,” Luck recalls. “But we were not working as well as we could as a team.”
To realign its mission and values, the company turned to San Antonio-based Holt Development Services. Through the implementation of values based leadership, the executive team learned to work more effectively and productively. Values based leadership is a methodology that challenges organizations to develop a mission, set of values, and leadership point of view, and then identify the goals of the culture and its embedded processes, models, tools, and rituals.
“We really learned about leadership and unlocking the performance of people; that’s really at the core of what we believe,” Luck says. “Yes, we need to have efficient screens and productive mobile equipment, but most of the industry has access to all the same equipment. What I don’t believe we do is access the potential of the people who are on our payrolls today to the level they can be unlocked.”
Developing internal potential
To tap into the potential of its personnel, Luck says the company’s leadership team began by working on themselves first. “Looking in the mirror and looking at yourself and your leadership is probably one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had in my life,” he says, noting that he also sought out the opinion of others and asked what they liked and didn’t like about his leadership. He used what he learned to hone his skills and modeled his growing self-awareness for others.
The executive team met quarterly for two-day sessions during the first 18 months it implemented values based leadership. They began to align the corporate mission and work together more effectively. Soon, the rest of the Luck team could see a difference. Throughout a two-year timeframe, other executives, managers, and front-line associates also were trained in values based leadership.
Through the process, four core values — leadership, integrity, commitment, and creativity — were identified. “Underneath each of those words, which are commonplace words and ones you would expect to find on the wall of any corporate boardroom, we’ve gone through great pains to describe the outcome statement and behaviors of each of those,” Luck says. “The values set the expectation for how we conduct the business.” The mission statement was also written: We will ignite human potential through values based leadership and positively impact the lives of others around the world.
“Our employees started to tell us this was the most effective block of work they’d ever been exposed to in the 90-year history of our company,” Luck says. “We had wives and husbands who would call us and say, ‘What you’re doing with the values based leadership training is having a huge impact on our life and on our children.’ Customers began to notice a difference, and they began to remark on it.”
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