Tips from an award-winning company
Glenn Collings had a dream of owning and operating his own business.
© Kevin Higgins/The Beacon
SMALL TALK – Rhonda Collings of Glenn Collings Ltd. spoke at the Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Week luncheon Monday.
So, more than 15 years ago, he and his wife, Rhonda, decided to make it a reality.
On Monday, she shared their story, as well as some tips for success they have learned along the way in making Glenn Collings Ltd. one of the most successful commercial mechanical companies in Central Newfoundland.
Their business was successful enough to be awarded the 2012 Joe and Clarice Goodyear Business Achievement Award handed out at the Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Business Achievement Awards Gala in May.
She told the story of her and her husband’s success to a room full of local business people at the chamber’s Small Business Week luncheon.
“We were quite honoured to win the Joe and Clarice Goodyear Business Achievement Award in May, as well as having the opportunity to speak today,” she said, noting they have received numerous messages of congratulations since May.
However, it’s not awards that are of the utmost importance to the husband and wife duo, and Ms. Collings, who is the company’s co-owner, co-operator and office manager, shared some of their success secrets.
“When we named the company, we put Glenn’s name on it for accountability, and to show our future customers and clients we were committed to making our business a success…we also wanted to build on the great reputation Glenn built in the trade,” she said, adding the office aspect of the business started in their home in 1997, and the business has grown to not only have numerous part- and full-time employees and its own building, but the owners/operators now own additional commercial rental properties in Gander.
She said there have been many challenges along the way, but “we’ve developed some philosophies…they might not all be right (for everyone), but they have worked for us.”
Ms. Collings said it’s important for small businesses to stay current with what is happening in their industry, whether it be technology or product related, as well as what opportunities are out there for their business.
“We believe it’s also important, in our case, to be members of such groups as the chamber and the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association…this makes us aware of local issues, government regulations, and also network with other companies in our industry,” she said.
Fiscal management is also an important factor in operating a successful small business, and according to Ms. Collings, this the basis for success.
“You can be able to do your business (work), but you still have to pay the bills and your employees…that’s really important,” she said. “Our theory right from the start has been to pay our employees and suppliers first, and hopefully you can pay yourself, and make a profit. This is important in keeping a good credit ranking.”
While all of these factors have played a large role in the success of Glenn Collings Ltd. since 1997, Ms. Collins, said it’s been the company’s focus on customer and employee relations that has been the real backbone to its success.
“A struggle for us in the construction industry is employee retention and productivity,” she said. “The large projects such as Bull Arm, they are attracting a lot of the skilled tradespeople for the high wages and benefits. This means smaller businesses have to increase wages and this increases project costs, and this could mean a decrease in the number of projects that go ahead…that’s a real struggle.
“Our strategy is that we treat our employees with respect, give them competitive wages, be attentive to their personal issues, and give them whatever benefits we can…we want them to feel valued for the hard work they do for us.”
She finished up by telling those in attendance that owning a small business is stressful and challenging, but it can also be quite rewarding.