I sometimes get asked this question: Can a company selling a commodity scale up to become recognized as an innovative company offering value-added products and services? Is it possible to have an impact in the industry?
The answer is yes.
That was the exact challenge Wes Garner faced before he joined Master of Business Dynamics (MBD), an interactive online program of Growth Institute’s best scaling up methodologies, frameworks and solutions.
I recently had a chat with Wes Garner, an alumnus of MBD, to gain insight on how MBD helped him scale his commodities company.
Before we dive into the interview, here’s a little bit more about Wes Garner. He is the CEO of GLC Minerals in Green Bay, Wisconsin. GLC Minerals is actually a derivative of a fifth generation family business, which Wes took the helm of about 20 years ago coming out of college.
Being thrusted into a leadership role to take over five generations of legacy at young age was no easy task. The challenge spurred Wes to seek knowledge which helped him grow as a leader.
To this day, Wes continues to invest in education and learning. As part of that journey, Wes joined MBD after being attracted to the diversity of the programming that Growth Institute offers.
Here’s a peek into the chat we had.
[Daniel Marcos] Let’s start with what you found to be the most useful in your learning journey. Which courses in MBD had the greatest impact on your company?
[Wes Garner] There's a variety of different impacts. What I like about the program is you can tap into high-level, strategic thought. Exponential Organizations was the first program I enrolled in. The quality of content and speakers was just phenomenal, and it opened my mind to the innovation and exponential change an organization can go through.
Our core business is in mineral processing. We are typically viewed as a commodity. To truly innovate and change, we need to deeply understand our customers. We need to move from being a commodity to something that's more value added and impactful in terms of the industry. Exponential Organizations helped me see that, and stretched me in ways I hadn't been stretched in a long time.
From a tactical standpoint, I turn to programs such as High Stakes Negotiations.
Without a doubt, that course has paid for itself a hundred times over already.
It paid for my whole MBD program education. I had never gone through a negotiations course before after 20 years of being a CEO. Wow. I wish I had done one every five years. It is so impactful and added a tremendous amount of value to our business.
A specific example that comes to mind is when a long-term customer relationship had become very one-sided. We needed to transform the relationship from an economic standpoint, yet wanted to preserve the relationship quality.
By taking the negotiations class, we were able to drastically improve our margins with that customer, and walk away with an even stronger relationship. Before taking the course, I would have never imagined we could have accomplished what we did.
[Daniel Marcos] That's awesome. I'm really happy to hear that, thank you for sharing that story. So I’m curious, where was your company prior to starting the MBD, and why did you decide to enroll at that time?
[Wes Garner] We had some significant leadership change from 2014 to 2015. Business growth had stagnated. We were investing in fresh leadership, and I saw MBD as a very cost effective way to tap into world class resources.
There’s no travel involved, yet you can access world-class intellect both from the teachers and other participants.
Another reason I enrolled is because there were a lot of different programs I could take. It was like a toolbox which allowed me to chose trainings focusing on where I feel my gaps lie. I think I'm on my sixth program now.
I have already done one in sales, one in leadership, as well as Exponential Organizations and Topgrading. Each of those are disciplines that I felt I needed to improve in or the business needed more focus on.
[Daniel Marcos] And what did you love most about these programs?
[Wes Garner] I loved being able to pick programs and apply what I was learning right away. Working remotely from my team puts me in a unique situation of not being active in the day-to-day operations of our business. Yet we have a very talented, young president COO thirsty for growth and development. Through my engagement in these programs, I've been able to help coach and develop her in areas where I think both of us tend to be weak or the company tends to be a little bit weak.
One of those areas is sales structure and discipline. We tackled that through MBD’s selling course that's offered. With talent acquisition being critical in our long-term growth, the Topgrading program has helped us in our recruitment selection process.
[Daniel Marcos] You mentioned about new, young leadership coming in. Can you give me an overview of where the company is now? How do you think MBD helped you get to that point?
[Wes Garner] Our business value has probably grown 30% year-over-year for the past three years. There are a lot of factors which have impacted this growth, with MBD being one of them. It really is a combination of investment in personnel and education that I think has gotten us there.
[Daniel Marcos] Congratulations on your success and the growth of the company! So who do you recommend should participate in the MBD, or even an individual Master Business Course?
[Wes Garner] I really think this MBD is perfect for mid-level management and senior management development. In terms of establishing quarterly development goals, the MBD program would be a great fit over a two-year period of time. I recommend taking a course every quarter or perhaps at least three courses a year.
That being said, if you're looking for world class tactical advice in a functional area, I recommend diving into either the negotiations, sales, or hiring courses. One thing for sure, all the tools you’ll find in Growth Institute are probably the best I've been able to find.
It’s incredibly cost-effective. The delivery is world class and the virtual classroom environment uniquely creates delivery of a deeper level of content for a deeper level of understanding.
For example, in our negotiations class, I worked with an individual on an exercise to negotiate different sides of a transaction and a deal. From that experience, I was able to learn a tremendous amount simply from observing how he was choosing to apply the class. So there’s a lot of peer-to-peer learning too, and I’ve also been able to share my own experiences in negotiations from which he could learn.
Another thing this experience helped me do was develop a level vulnerability as we went back to analyze the negotiations we had worked through. We analyzed where my own weaknesses were in negotiating and vice versa. It’s just a phenomenal approach to learning that. And like I said previously, it has been very impactful from an economic standpoint, both for myself and the business.
[Daniel Marcos] Thank you so much. This was really awesome to hear and I love to hear that MBD has paid for itself. That's our goal. To be able to drive enough value and make MBD a no-brainer. I'd love to hear any other thoughts you have. It would be really helpful for the continuation and growth of the program.
[Wes Garner] I think the MBD worked for me in terms of plug and play. I feel the tactical programs are things where I could go back to my management team and say, "Hey, you're going to take this course." And have it be a one-off program for them.
What I honestly found amazing was the plethora of growth opportunity MBD offers at a pretty low price. And that's really what attracted me. Without a doubt, I would also have my people take the negotiations course. Offering those à la carte I think is great.
We've basically paid for a lot of education for our senior team. People getting MBAs, CPAs. I appreciate it, yet the return on investment is so long-term. What I appreciate about Growth Institute is they can learn these tools and tactics in a very short time at a reasonable cost. Best of all, they can implement their learnings immediately.
In fact, I believe our education in investment is going to move away from people getting MBA's and degrees. It’s going to be more about providing real-time, applicable knowledge we can immediately execute and to grow value. The cycle of change is getting faster and faster, and faster. What we used to think would take 10 years, now takes five years. Or even three years. Everything, including the education component, needs to this rapid cycle of change.
Experience the New Wave of Business Education
Master of Business Dynamics is an interactive online program that puts together Growth Institute’s best methodologies, frameworks and solutions. Over the 18-month period you will be taken through a process of intense revision, brainstorms, coaching and implementation.
Along with selected CEOs, top executives and entrepreneurs from around the world, you’ll go through 6 Master Business Courses, taught by some of the most influential coaches and Thought Leaders of the modern business world.
Each month you’ll learn how to scale up through a series of online seminars, live coaching sessions, and masterminds with game changers from various industries. You’ll also get access to Scaling Up Club — an online library of almost +100 video courses and monthly live webinars.
Learn more about the program and how you can apply >> here <<