Editor's Note: After two years of sharing Employee Spotlights with our readers, we thought it was time for CEO and President Mark Inboden to take his turn. Today, he's answering eight questions we were eager to ask.
1. You've had a successful career at companies such as United Banks and Janus Mutual Funds. And now you've spent the last 12 years reinventing and building a successful manufacturing shop. How did your previous business experiences prepare you for UCEC?
Working in larger corporations gave me training opportunities that are hard to come by in smaller businesses. There were more people to interact with and learn from. My last job had more than 150 people under my umbrella, and so I was used to running a larger organization. I can unequivocally say I enjoy running a smaller company with less bureaucracy and more speed in satisfying customer requests.
2. You blog a lot about business strategy, personal development and career advice. Have you thought about writing a business book?
I like blogging on those subjects because I believe strongly in giving people insights into best practices that I have experienced. Passing on experience and wisdom is essential in our culture at UCEC. I like to tell people about focusing on the task at hand, and how it fits into the big picture. I haven’t given too much thought about writing a business book, but I would have some “interesting” stories, especially from my previous employers!
3. UCEC isn't the typical panel shop. As CEO, you've invested in state-of-the-art technology, marketing, employee training and even undertaken a renovation of headquarters. What drives you to reinvent what is typically a pretty under-the-radar business?
Everything we do is run through a “filter” to see if it makes sense for us, and our customers. I am “old school:" every dollar we spend has to make sense. If we place a “bet” on some new technology, it has to benefit all parties. We spend more time “refining” current practices and reinvent as needed. Being “under-the-radar” can be a good thing! Our recent renovation gives us all a nicer place to work. One of the best ROI in recent years!
4. What is one thing your team probably doesn't know about you?
That I lived in a mobile home park my last year of college.
5. Why are you good at what you do?
I am good at looking at the big picture and surrounding myself with the expertise to get things done. I always try to put myself in the customer's shoes, and then relay their needs to my staff in a way that makes sense for all. Leading and building a company is different than working in it. At some point to “push” a company forward, one has to separate themselves from being involved in every aspect of the business, and trust people to do their jobs.
6. What is one thing about the panel business that surprised you?
If one were to examine the business model for a panel shop, it would look pretty simple. Probably my biggest surprise was how hard it is to execute the business model. My father-in-law, Chris Kitsos, talked about this all the time. I think if you look around Denver, there are only a few panel shops that have executed well and have been in business for a long time. There are many smart people who thought they could run such a simple concept and closed up shop rather quickly. It takes a lot of talent and hard work to be in this business, and it is a testament to our employees that we are in our 58th year of operation.
7. Over the past two years, UCEC has blogged a lot about the long-term, collaborative relationships it has between customers, vendors and partners. As the leader of UCEC, how do you model this ongoing core value of the company?
Our people embody this value. Everyone at every level interacts with our end customer. We do not have a bureaucratic chain of command to get things done. When an employee has a question, they call the customer directly. We do not go through several channels to ask a question. We trust people to do their jobs, and they know they can rely on their management team if needed. If our customers call in, and their main contact is gone, there are several other people that can help.
8. Inquiring minds want to know: what does golf mean to you?
You probably don’t have enough time and space for me to give a proper answer! Here’s my quick, philosophical answer: Golf is about managing your imperfect shots because no matter how good you are, it always comes down to not compounding a mistake. I think the patience and focus it takes to play well, and the practice you need to get better, can be applied to all areas of your business, family and spiritual life.