Creativity in the Face of Adversity
The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.
- Bob Igor
Creativity comes as natural as breathing to children. Any object can become a toy and any situation can turn into a game. As we get older creativity may often become associated with risk, a four-letter word to many business leaders. Add in stresses such as a down economy or unexpected losses and most CEOs wanted to hunker down, play it safe and ride out the storm. But that isn’t necessarily the best approach. Sometimes the best way to face adversity is to go back to our roots of creative thinking. Need some convincing? I want to share some stories from our MCEDC Business Champions. (Annually, MCEDC recognizes primary employers who have made a positive impact on McHenry County’s economy. These exceptional companies have strong vision, a solid business strategy, value employee education and subscribe to best practices making them stand out among others.) Here are three examples from our Business Champions that show how their businesses have thrived, despite their circumstances, by taking a new ‘creative’ approach to business.
When the 2009 downturn happened, many local businesses found themselves facing unfamiliar and difficult financial challenges. Heartland Cabinet Supply was no exception. Heavily connected to the residential housing market, Heartland saw their residential cabinet installations quickly dwindle to almost nothing. Owner, Gary Reece, knew a creative approach to his business was in order. Rather than doing things the same way he always had, Gary invested in new equipment and employee training and education. This allowed him to pursue the commercial market for the first time. His new approach paid off and over the last few years Heartland Cabinet Supply has realized 200% growth and increased profitability.
Another example of creative thinking impacting success is Matrix 4. After almost 40 years in business, this family-owned manufacturing company found themselves struggling to just stay afloat. The crisis reached its peak in 2014. At that time, CEO, Patricia Miller, knew things had to be done differently. She invested in the latest technology and instituted a revitalization plan that completely changed the way they approached their business. They reimagined and repositioned themselves as a design and marketing house capable of handling the design, engineering tooling and manufacturing needs of their clients. As a result, Matrix IV went from being a struggling manufacturer to a $5 to 10 million company that is a more valuable partner to its clients.
A final example is Metalmaster-Roofmaster. Just like Heartland Cabinet Supply, Metalmaster-Roofmaster was hit hard by the 2009 recession. However, they took the financial challenges head-on investing in new environmentally-friendly and LEED certified products and services. This creative approach brought in a new client base they hadn’t looked at before. They thrived in this new market and today are recognized as a leader in their industry nation-wide.
In each of these cases, the executive leadership refused to succumb to the “we have always done it this way” notion of business. Instead, they thought outside of the proverbial box and looked for creative ways to manage the changes around them. Their imaginative approaches allowed them to lead their companies from downturn to survival to prosperity. As business owners, we will always face challenges along the road to success. The question is how we will address them. Do we go back the way we came counting on the “we’ve always done it this way” or will we look for a new path to prosperity?
For over 25 years, MCEDC has been there to help McHenry County businesses navigate new paths and directions. Learn more about our resources, connections and how we can help by giving us a call or visiting our website www.mchenrycountyedc.com.