Attendees left the Nexstar® Network’s Owner’s Spotlight meeting raving about the training, leadership skills, and management information they picked up at the extravaganza.

Bob Rehfuss, president, Bear Valley Plumbing & Heating, Big Bear City, Calif., deemed the event a long-lost lifesaver.

“I’ve been really struggling with managing my company, with my management style,” said Rehfuss. “I’d gone to several leadership conferences, retreats, and all sorts of other events, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. This is what I’d been searching for over the last five years.”

Follow the Leader

The Owner’s Spotlight, held in April in New Orleans, focused on developing a leadership style that fits a specific individual’s needs.

Each attendee was given a Q4 Leadership Assessment prior to the event. The form, which was completed by managers and those who report directly to them, provided a 360-degree examination of each individual’s management style. The results were compiled and returned to them at the meeting, where they were then analyzed.

“They stressed the importance of understanding your leadership style and the leadership styles of those around you,” said Rehfuss. “The report went into great depth to explain why sometimes you can’t find you.”

Brian McHugh, general manager, Cranney Cos., Danvers, Mass., said his seven direct-reporting employees filled out the assessment beforehand. “They combined the results and handed you an envelope when you got to the class,” McHugh said. “It was a very valuable learning experience for me. Really, out of all the questions, there were two that were a common denominator that I needed to improve on, so it was very helpful.”

Attendees were also given a DiSC Assessment prior to the event. The evaluation provided a personal attribute assessment that identified members’ work styles and tendencies, and categorized them based upon a set of criteria. This isn’t the first time McHugh has utilized the DiSC profile, completing it three times prior as he stepped up the ladder. He said he saved his results from his prior assessments and was able to compare and contrast his most recent results to his prior scores.

“The studies were performed 20 years ago, and 13 years ago when I started here,” he said. “It’s amazing to see how my profile has changed,” said McHugh. “It definitely showed me how my style has changed based on my responsibilities.”

Chris Corley, Corley Plumbing, Air & Electric Inc., Greenville, S.C., and chairman of the board for Nexstar Network, said the DiSC profile is what he benefited the most from during the meeting.

“I’ve done it before, but the way we did it this time, as far as its relevance combined with our interactions with others, it made sense to me. I got a lot out of that,” he said. “We filled out a Q4 leadership questionnaire that categorized our leadership style, described how we were viewed, and showcased how the people we lead view us. I found this extremely insightful and helpful.”

The Q4 Leadership Assessment helped Rehfuss realize he didn’t need to try to morph everyone around him into a carbon copy of himself. He said it really alerted him to pay more attention to his peers, and that it was his job to do whatever it takes to help them excel.

“I’ve absolutely modified the way I look at things and the results have been unquestionably good,” Rehfuss said. “First and foremost, morale has gone up in the company. We have a company of long-term employees. Because of the recession, everyone was a bit down. But now, in two weeks, morale went up, sales went up, average tickets went up, and results went up.”

McHugh said he’s utilizing the the DiSC profiles to increase team interaction. “There were things I kind of overlooked during the recession, and when you’re in stay-alive mode you don’t really think of the written appraisals. Employee feedback is almost forgotten when your primary focus is keeping the doors open,” McHugh said. “I learned, no matter what, I should keep those lines of communication open.”

Speakers at the event included Mike Abrashoff, former commander of the USS Benfold, and Dan Barnett, Primavera Co., who spoke about make-or-break strategies.

“It was the fourth time I’ve heard (Barnett) speak, and I’ve picked up something different each time,” Corley said. “In our businesses, or as a board, the make-or-break aspect is the one thing that, if we do it especially well, we will achieve our vision. Once you figure out what it is, you have to get your whole organization on-board with that. Because if it’s that important, it has to filter through the whole company. And one of the things we’re told is if we don’t execute it, it doesn’t do us any good. And good business owners make sure they execute strategy.”


Nexstar introduced its training accountability program at the meeting. The program is intended to help contractors retain and implement the information they gain at Nexstar trainings. “It goes back to execution and implementation. (Nexstar), as an organization, has great material. If you could take that and actually implement and execute, you’re almost guaranteed success,” Corley said.

The Owners’ Spotlight also provided a valuable opportunity for contractors to network, something not lost on the attendees.

“The camaraderie of Nexstar is amazing. The time you spend with other contractors talking best practices is worth its weight in gold,” McHugh said. “Whether you’re out at a restaurant or just talking to people, it’s an all-around educational experience. You walk away with a lot of good ideas, and find out from other people what works and what doesn’t.”

Corley said each time he goes to a meeting, he picks up something worthwhile. “Sometimes, it’s the simplest thing, and we change it in our company and then wonder how we ever got by without it,” Corley said. “I look at my shop and see so many ideas of things I got from a meeting, or a peer group. It’s really been key to our success.”

Publication date: 6/24/2013