August 8, 1977. Straight out of college, degree in hand I applied for a sales position with the company that would become my lifelong home. Then, as now, Beekley Corporation was an exceptional company.
My coach and mentor, W.Mason Beekley was both an exceptional man and exceptional leader. As I look back on my 37 years with Beekley Corporation I am grateful that he saw in me the potential to eventually run the business started by his father and instilled in me the enduring principles that have made Beekley a thriving business and great place to work for close to 80 years.
Through up years and down years I have found that it's not the leader, but the people - our associates, that determine the success of our company. If you value your people, challenge them in positive ways, reward wins and even celebrate lessons learned from failures- success will follow and the company will endure. My role is to cultivate and be the custodian for our high-performance, high-expectation culture.
These are the most valuable lessons I have learned throughout my career, the ones I hold deep in my core and practice daily. Lessons that will help any leader, in fact - anyone, succeed in business and in life.
- People are the most valuable asset a company has. Treat your employees well and they will treat you and your business well in return.
- Create high expectations and challenge your people to stretch outside their comfort zones - you, and they, will be amazed at what can be achieved when you believe in their abilities.
- Allow people to take risks and allow them to fail without recrimination. However, failure for failure's sake is not a goal - encourage people to find the nugget gleaned from their mistakes. These lessons learned from failure help drive the next win, the next innovation, the next big idea. If people are afraid to fail, they stop taking risks that help stretch their capabilities.
- Be eternally optimistic. This doesn't mean being blind to the threats and pitfalls that life brings; but rather that you train yourself to look for the possible and have faith in yourself and others that you can achieve any goals you set for yourself.
- Have a mission that's bigger than you. At Beekley Corporation, our mission is to make the lives of everyone we touch a little better. Whether it's helping to save lives, improve the patient or guest experience, or simply streamlining processes for our customers, every Beekley associate passionately believes that they can and do make a positive difference in the world.
37 years is an exceptionally long time, especially these days, to be with the same company. But now, as then, Beekley Corporation is an exceptional company. One I am proud to represent and grateful for the lessons it taught me along the way.
Ayn S. LaPlant
President and CEO