Our guest is Don McNeeley, the president and CEO of Chicago Tube and Iron one of the largest specialty steel service centers in the United States with ten branches throughout the Midwest and in Monterrey, Mexico.
The company recently celebrated it 100 year anniversary with an amazing performance record of 100 continuous years of profitability.
Consider that a business celebrating it’s centennial, had to overcome these odds:
- 40% percent of all businesses fail the first generation of management.
- Another 44 percent in the second.
- Something like 15 percent in the third,
- And only one out of every 100 businesses make it to it’s centennial.
Now consider the economic and geo-political environment this business had to navigate:
- 17 recessions
- 2 depressions
- WWI and WWII
- Korea, Vietnam
- 9-11 and the war on terror
When you realize what the world, and the world of business has experienced in the past 100 years, the uninterrupted 100 years of consecutive profitability achieved by Chicago Tube and Iron is simply an amazing record.
So how is sustained profitability and relevance of this magnitude achieved?
As I learned in this conversation with Don, successful leaders have the ability to look at the trends that are impacting our world, connect the dots, craft a vision that galvanizes the organization, and then, and maybe most importantly … to lead the business through market disrupting inflection points.
In this 41 minute episode Don and I discuss:
- The role of vision in achieving 100 years of consecutive profitability
- Why successful leaders have the ability to look at the same things as everyone else, but see something different
- Leading in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world
- How disruptive technology becomes destructive technology
- Using the disruptive pace of change to your advantage
- Why wholesale distribution deserves to have a chip on our shoulder compared to the S&P 500
- The criticality of leading through inflection points
- An example of a point of inflection in Chicago Tube & Iron’s history that begins to explain why all distributors margins are being squeezed
- The inflection point we are currently experiencing
- Taking action to lead through inflection points
- Five core macro trends that should be on every leaders radar
The Show Notes
- Don McNeeley Bio: Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering
- Chicago Tube and Iron
- Northwestern University McCormick School of Engineering
- Articles Written By Don McNeeley at The Wholesaler
- Inflection Point Definition on Investopedia
- INNOVATE! How Successful Distributors Lead Change In Disruptive Times
- Dirk Beveridge Speaking
- UnleashWD Innovation Summit
Other Episodes In The 5 Part Don McNeeley Podcast Series
- Episode 2 – Culture: November 2nd
- Episode 3 – Value Proposition: November 9th
- Episode 4 – Business Model: November 16th
- Episode 5 – Transformative Leadership: November 30th
Links will be provided with each episode broadcast.
Members of the free UnleashWD Online community have access to this transcript.
Not A Member? Claim Your Free Membership Here