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News & Press: Leadership

How Can a Company Be Positioned for Success?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alyce Ryan
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Read the full article on AICC BoxScore

The question at hand is: How can a company be positioned for success? Having taken on the task, I see that it is a matter better suited to a book, with chapters on strategic planning, market analysis, best practices for attracting talent, and staying focused on key objectives as the business scales. Word-to-picture ratios being what they are, I will answer the question with a sketch of 34 years in the life of Pacific Southwest Container LLC (PSC) in central California.

August 9, PSC lost its founder, Don Mayol. His oldest son, John Mayol, has been leading the team for nearly 25 years. The chief reason I am sketching this company as a picture of success is that they have maintained the founder’s paradigm while continuously adapting to thrive in a changing market. However, I must first offer an objectivity disclaimer. I have known the Mayol family since I was a young boy, and I am grateful for the mentoring, friendship, and years I spent as a PSC team member. I hope that what I lack in detachment can be balanced with knowledge gained as a student of, and a contributor to, PSC’s culture.

Reactivity is an occupational hazard of entrepreneurs; when they get bored, they want to change something.

Like many independent packaging companies, a rising star in sales and management of an integrated firm founded this one. In 1973, Don Mayol was the youngest general manager in the Weyerhaeuser system when his entrepreneurial nature prompted him to found an independent company. He named it after his favorite airline, and with their example of customer service in mind, he began to use and adapt the systems he had learned in the larger corporate world. As a condensed history of the founder’s years, I offer that he learned from his corporate jobs, from the galvanizing management of cash flow, and from many people of all stations whom he observed and invited to coffee. This knowledge was used to build a company structure that they would grow into. He risked financially and by investing in people, with no cap on sales commissions, best-in-class pay, and challenging work. This gamble was shared and supported by his wife, Lois, and his three children, John, Jim, and Jennifer.

Don worked to grow the business by focusing on a niche and controlling as much of the process as he could afford. PSC also grew because Don shared decision-making power earlier than most by splitting responsibility for sales and operations and assigning them to son John and nephew Tom Andersen. PSC culture was also shaped by the founder’s generous nature. Uncommon drive to serve the customer marked the early years; and service to the community has been a quiet and consistent practice. As John Mayol puts it, “Dad did not coin our mantra, Learn, Risk, Grow, Serve, but he exemplified it.”

By the ’90s, the generational transition was well underway, but it was accelerated by Don’s heart attack at age 57. John stepped in and immediately doubled down on his father’s penchant for hiring the best and brightest, and for sharing power. Because John had been involved from day one and had watched Don build the structure of a larger company, he had a field of operation—a way of seeing things. Jim Mayol stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his brother to bring perspective and advice as general counsel. John had already led the effort to grow sales significantly. He credits his cousin Tom Andersen with the development of a quality improvement culture that would enable PSC to attract high-graphics customers, such as Apple, HP, and Gallo. John recalls, “We raised the bar and hired a group of people that we could not afford, and then found creative ways to compensate them and keep them engaged.” Read the full article on AICC BoxScore