Since 1925 Correct Craft has operated as the world’s leader in tournament inboard, freshwater fish and utility and recreational boats, as well as marine propulsion and watersports parks. The company is headquartered in Florida but has manufacturing plants across the country, and it operates in more that 70-countries worldwide.
Bill Yeargin has served as CEO since 2006 – he was the fifth CEO in five years. He realized the company needed a culture of service.
“One of the things that we needed was a culture, and a culture of service, a culture of something bigger than us,” said Yeargin. He promoted a culture of making life better. “When you have employees that are engaged, employees that are part of something that’s bigger than themselves, they perform really well.”
“You can’t think of culture as an expense. You have to think of culture as an investment,” said the CEO. “There’s no investment you can make, that’s better for your organization, that’s got a higher return than investing in culture.” He said Correct Craft has grown from a $40 million company in 2009 to more than $1 billion last year.
Yeargin said part of the culture is becoming a learner. He said most people conversely are knowers – people who use data only to confirm what they already know.
“If you’re a learner, you get an endorphin rush when somebody changes your mind,” said Yeargin. He said he wants to be the least judgmental guy anyone meets.
He said the way we frame things in our minds make a big difference in how successful we are. We should see obstacles, or challenges, as opportunities and the way to our success.
“And so when we have a big challenge, we say the obstacle is the way. We’re going to figure out a way to turn this to our advantage.”
Yeargin and part of his team recently spent a week in Silicon Valley. Their concentration was on the huge increase in computational power seen in the past few decades, in items such as the smart phone – and its implications for change and transformational growth.
“That technological change is transforming business models and transforming the world. Whatever you’re doing now, if you’re doing the same thing in ten years, you’re likely to be out of business,” he told the Club.
Yeargin emphasized that looking ahead is part of his company’s culture. He points to the need to drive culture and says it is simple if these four steps are followed.
- Identify what is important in your organization
- Create a clear way to present it
- Communicate over and over
- Model it
As for the last point, Yeargin said leaders have to follow the cultural steps themselves.
“As CEO of Correct Craft. I talk about this stuff all the time. But if people see me talking one way and acting another, they’re always going to make their determination of what your values are based on what they see you do, not what they hear you say. Always. So you have to model it,” he said.
Yeargin concluded with a return to culture. “You invest in culture in your organization. It’s great for your communities, it’s great for your employees, it’s great for your vendors, your other business partners, it’s great for your shareholders. Because you can have a lot of business success by focusing on culture, but it’s got to be genuine.”
He says culture even helps you make more money but usually doesn’t work the other way around. “Culture drives financial performance unless that’s the reason you have your culture, as people can see through that.”
(You can also view the entire Club meeting on YouTube.)