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Overcoming Challenges, Preparing for the Future

December 21, 2000
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BOCA RATON, FL - In his keynote speech at Excellence Alliance, Inc.’s, fourth-annual National Executive Meeting for its independent contractor members, Jim Norris, chairman of the organization, noted that even in good times it’s not easy running a business.

It’s solitary as an owner, he said, “And there’s a burden, a weight to bear.… People are depending on us.” Also, that old nemesis, consolidation, is still very much present.

“We’re still under pressure from the consolidation movement,” he stated. Consolidated contractors are getting more aggressive and more focused on branding. “They’re not going away.”


In addition, utility competition is still a major force, Norris remarked. The utilities have experienced more failures than successes, but “They can withstand a lot of failures” because of their deep pockets.

When times are good, it doesn’t seem that important to consider outside forces, he said. But what about when things slow? With a winning company in a strong economy, “Now is the time to set our sights higher.”

In the best companies, said Norris, “There’s a strong sense of team.” However, barriers will exist within a company because different departments won’t always communicate. The owner must work to improve communications between the different groups. “Our role is to build bridges” within the business.


Norris then gave an example of what he considers exceptional teamwork. He talked about the Colorado baseball team where a pitcher who had just pitched the day before volunteered to pitch in extra innings when the manager ran out of pitchers. When the game went on, a catcher who had never pitched before filled in pitching for another inning.

Neither of these men was getting paid any extra, but both were willing to step up and do whatever they could when the team needed them.

You want to get all your people to share your commitment to the organization. “Things change when we change our attitude,” he noted. This begins with a commitment to provide exceptional service.

This is a relationship business, Norris said. People come back to our companies “because they believe in us … because they have a relationship with us.

“We can’t take people for granted.”

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