Van Meter, Inc. president shares energy, inspiration during MBA Speaker Series

During an inspiring lecture at Mount Mercy University on March 13, Van Meter, Inc. CEO Barry Boyer, keynote speaker for the 2012 MBA Speaker Series, explained a new approach to business that’s making a difference in big ways. In his speech, “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things,” Boyer stressed the importance of finding ways to engage employees that encourages them to take a piece of ownership in their company.

Van Meter, an electrical wholesale and automation company, became 100 percent employee-owned in January 2005. Since its transition of ownership, employee engagement has risen to 67 percent. According to Boyer, the national average employee engagement in the workplace is 28 percent.

The change for Van Meter started at the top with Boyer as he learned to focus less on data analysis, and more on community and culture in the workplace. After almost 30 years in a leadership position, Boyer said he had to learn how to be more open to suggestions from people within the company. His goal was to create an environment in which employees would come to know and achieve their potential.

“Control is an illusion,” Boyer told an overflowing audience of students, faculty, staff and community members. “We have little control over what happens in our lives. I realized I needed to get out of the way to let people make a difference.”

Giving employees more hands-on opportunities proved beneficial to Van Meter Inc., during difficult economic times. When the national sales market dropped by 40 percent during the economic recession, Van Meter employees solicited 349 new customers, bringing millions of dollars of revenue to the company.

Boyer said the roadblock for many Americans is that they either don’t know how their position impacts the company, or their work has never been appreciated, therefore devaluing their commitment to their job.

“Paint a future that people can see. Excellent performance occurs when people feel they matter or when they can see the future, and that future makes a difference in their life,” Boyer said.

In an effort to inspire similar success as leaders in the workplace, Boyer encouraged audience members to engage in what he called the “four Ls: learn, live, love, and laugh.”

“There’s a lot more to life than work,” Boyer said. “I work to live, I don’t live to work.”

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