Letter from Rich Smalling, American Innovations CEO
Before coming to AI, I worked for big companies. I learned a lot and I respect what those companies built and how well they were run. However, I couldn’t help feeling like just a number, like a cog in a big machine. I vowed that if I got the chance, I’d trust the people that I worked with and do something that made the world a better place. I’d find people who wanted to make meaningful decisions – entrepreneurs who wanted that responsibility and the freedom that goes with it. We spend a lot of time at work (maybe too much sometimes) so why not have a meaningful job built on friendship, truth and trust?
And yes, we need to make a profit to build a healthy business for our shareholders, but let’s not maximize it on the backs of our employees, vendors, customers or the environment. Because when it comes down to it, how you play the game really does matter. If you’re in it for the long haul like we are, if you need experienced people who sincerely care about the customer, you’d better have heart.
Did we build a business that operated like this all the time from the beginning? Heck no. Did we have our good days and bad days? Yup. Are there more of each down the road? Yup, yup. We also built a team of fighters. People relentless about who they are, what they do and why that’s important.
We understand the importance of what our customers do and how challenging it can be to keep up with increasing regulations, rapid growth and managing with scarce resources. Knowing we are helping our customers solve their problems while making the environment a safer place for everyone gets us out of bed each morning. And we are especially relentless about service. Helping our customers solve important problems is the nourishment we need to keep going. We lose sleep if the customer isn’t happy.
But to us, service isn’t just about the customer. It’s also about serving each other, thinking about each other’s needs before our own. It’s about leaders who view their job as a great responsibility to serve those they lead instead of a perk. It’s about giving back to our communities.
It’s been my honor and privilege to serve a lot of great employees and customers, and I work with the best owners anyone could have. Every day is a new opportunity to work side by side with one of our customers to solve a sticky problem, to safely and efficiently operate their valuable assets with reliable, innovative products and services, helping to bring critical services to market while protecting people and the world around us. It’s hard to run a business like this. It takes relentless courage and patience. But it’s well worth the effort.