18 October 2013 10:23 [Source: ICB]
Innovation and creativity are driving business growth, efficiency gains and a strong corporate culture at U.S. Chemicals
Business cannot thrive without innovation and change, says Carol Piccaro, president and CEO of chemical distribution company, U.S. Chemicals. “The chemical industry is integral to almost every product produced today and it can succeed by evolving product lines that are economically competitive while improving the health and welfare of consumers. The impact is life changing,” she says.
Piccaro is keen to develop creative-thinking skills among her staff. She says: “I want U.S. Chemicals to be open to ideas from within and outside the industry as long as they are best practices and increase productivity and sustainability. Through this process we have built a stronger business while diversifying our customer base, supplier chain and industry contacts.”
Irwin’s eye is on strong company’s values
Meanwhile, Irwin has spent a great deal of time analysing the company’s values, culture and behaviour. The company’s culture is very much centred on the health and well-being of its staff, something which Piccaro is deeply committed to. She maintains that strong corporate values and behaviour are essential to developing and maintaining trusting and valued business relationships.
Irwin has set up a team that meets regularly to lead in the training and reinforcing of company culture. Through this process, it was decided to implement an award that would be presented at the end of the year to the employee voted by their peers as being the best role model of the company’s culture. Piccaro and Irwin are not eligible. The prize is a substantial monetary award, which, not surprisingly, has generated a great deal of interest. “Our team has responded well and business improvements are being experienced frequently,” says Piccaro.
One major improvement that Piccaro has seen within the business has come from adopting the ethos “right the first time, every time”. She says: “This motto transcends throughout the whole business plan and results in many tangible benefits as well as improving efficiency. It has to do with the environment, for example not wasting paper or energy, or writing unnecessary emails. Everyone at U.S. Chemicals has adopted this.”
Piccaro adds that, to use a sports analogy, she is developing a zone rather than a fixed position team at U.S. Chemicals. “With a highly creative COO on our team, it allows me to also play a dual role as an account executive and CEO. As an account executive I receive a daily dose of the view at ground level of what our clients think of our performance. I can help my team troubleshoot in the moment rather than hearing about issues once they have become problems,” she says.
The dual role has allowed Piccaro to return to her first love of the business – selling. She says there is no greater feeling than the thrill of landing business, satisfying customers and knowing the company is growing because clients and staff are satisfied with the products and organisational culture it has developed. Piccaro says U.S. Chemicals continues to work with buyers and sellers to find sustainable sourcing, building a business that is known for customer relations, as well as offering the safest and most cost-competitive products.
Piccaro is passionate about her company and its culture, and she wants to make sure that, from a human resources perspective, her employees maintain a balanced lifestyle. She says: “We want them to succeed in business but we also want to encourage them to take time to smell the roses. If we think of our company as an organic garden where ideas can be cultivated as the fruits of our labour, we motivate employees to build better business models without our even asking.” In today’s climate of job cuts and doing more with less staff, this is a refreshing approach and one that many companies would do well to emulate.
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