Some say running a successful, growing business can feel like a marathon, but for the team at New Brunswick based GEMTEC, it’s become a perfectly choreographed dance. And their dance instructor — Stratford Group — has some pretty good moves for sustainable growth.
In today’s complex economic climate, sustainability and scalability are vital to success.
That said, “sustainable growth” means a lot more than it used to. “When you look at strategy, you also need to look at being socially and environmentally aware,” said Colleen Kelley, president and executive at the Stratford Group.
“Historically, sustainable growth was referring to “repeatable growth” but that lens has changed,” she said. “Reflecting on sustainability in a pragmatic way for your business is incredibly important and it hasn’t been done historically.”
That’s exactly the kind of forward-thinking expertise GEMTEC’s president and CEO Serge Bourque was looking for.
GEMTEC needed a new plan for growth
GEMTEC’s business is related to infrastructure: bridges, roads, buildings, wharfs and pipes in the ground. Their work ranges from conducting routine concrete testing, to performing a detailed analysis for bridge foundations. “A lot of the work we do isn’t seen by anybody because it’s below our feet,” said Bourque.
Even though GEMTEC has already navigated two successful acquisitions, this time was different.
Previously, their approach toward growth was about avoiding the need to scale back. “As engineers, we’re quite conservative. So we’ve always grown very conservatively,” said Bourque. “But we got to the size where people were going in different directions. We couldn’t grow without a plan.”
“How do we all go in the same direction?” was the million-dollar question Bourque asked his team, and Stratford was the answer.
The cadence of implementing a custom solution
What Bourque learned was that staying on top of your strategic planning is easier when you’ve got some rhythm.
Kelley and her team showed them how to adopt business activities — above ground this time — that got GEMTEC’s leadership doing the same dance so their engineers could keep doing what they do best.
Stratford’s approach is about making strategy planning not just an event, but a continuous renewal process that works with your business and pace of change instead of something you do once and never think about again. Simply put, Kelley says every company should have a planning calendar that outlines all the strategy and implementation timelines, and is connected to key business processes such as budgets and board reporting.
As a trusted business partner, Stratford helps their clients develop the ideal cadence for their team’s goals and then stays the course until the new rhythm has been incorporated into the corporate culture.
Actionable and measurable custom plans for real people
“When Stratford guided our organization through its mission, vision and values, we were reminded that our values are about putting people first,” said Bourque.
For this team of engineers, pragmatism was a close second. “We didn’t need kind of a flowery approach to everything, we needed something to be pragmatic and add value,” said Bourque.
That’s why Stratford’s commitment to deliver an actionable and measurable plan made it easy for Bourque to get buy-in from the company’s leadership. “As the new plan is unfolding, people are still on board. To me that comes from the people — Colleen and her team,” said Bourque.
The feeling was mutual. Kelley says GEMTEC is a gold-star client.
“They’re a very successful company that wants to grow,” said Kelley. “And they’re open to new ideas, receiving input and having dialogues to come up with the best strategy possible.”
The groundwork they’ve laid so far includes a growth strategy supported by a human resources information system to help manage their 300 employees, as well as a new quality management system.
“Our goal is to double in the next five years with much of our growth coming from Ontario,” said Bourque. “As we scale and open up more offices, we want to ensure we maintain our high level of quality.”
It would seem that once you’ve learned all the best moves, what you’ll get are results.