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  • Writer's pictureRich Robb, CEO

Leaders in the Making

CEO Letter, Rich Robb

“ LEADERS DON’T CREATE FOLLOWERS; THEY CREATE MORE LEADERS.” — TOM PETERS

I have a few questions for everyone reading this letter. Where were you in 2007? What were you doing? What were your dreams? Where did you think you’d be in five years?


In my case, 2007 was a time of big changes. My wife was pregnant with our first child and I was desperately trying to buy our first house—no easy task given my paycheck couldn’t even cover the other purchase I desperately wanted to make: a new-fangled flatscreen TV. To add to the fun, Marcelino and I had just started our first big remodel project with MN. We were contemplating what our prospects might be if we screwed up. (Marcelino thought we’d

do okay in the Home Depot parking lot. I wasn’t so sure.)


All that feels like yesterday to me, but the ensuing 5,475 days didn’t pass without significant stuff happening along the way. MN survived a global recession. We updated our name. We completely reorganized our business. Oh, and let’s not forget we completed the transition into becoming 100% employee-owned.

LOOKING AHEAD

As fast as the past 15 years flew by, I suspect the next 15 will click off even quicker. And if you think it’s hard explaining to your kids why maple and stainless steel looked so good together in 2007, try predicting where you (and this company) will be in 2037.


Sure, there are some assumptions we can make. For starters, almost a third of our workforce will be retired or close to it. Lisa, Eric, Alex, Jason and Craig will all be at that age, with Burak and me right behind them. Another solid assumption: Many of the leaders who will replace us are working at MN right now. We like to home-grow our leadership. It’s what MN (and ESOPs) do. Which brings me to my final—and most important—question:

WHEN THE NEXT WAVE OF LEADERS TAKES OVER THE REINS OF MN IN 15 YEARS, DO YOU WANT TO BE ONE OF THEM?

It’s okay if your answer is no. Not everyone wants to be a leader, which doesn’t make their contributions to this company any less valuable. But for some of you, the answer is a resounding YES, not because you’ve told us, but because you prove it every day on the job.

LEADERSHIP TOMORROW STARTS NOW

Being an employee-owner at MN Builders is about more than just owning a stake in the company. It’s about more than owning your work. It’s also about carving out a place for yourself here at MN, one that allows you to expand your responsibilities and develop your skills—all while continuing to earn the respect of your colleagues.


These are the kind of people who rise to the top of an organization like MN. Whether it’s a remodel job, a process within the company, or a portion of a department in the business, they see an opportunity to care for and grow MN and then take the initiative to build it. That’s leadership in the making. That’s the type of ownership that ensures our future is as successful as our past.


REALITY CHECK

Let’s be candid here: We all have a vested interest in ensuring the leaders of tomorrow represent the very best of us today. When people retire from an ESOP, they get paid out the following year to the extent that there is cash in the plan. So it’s in everyone’s best interests to ensure that, as solid as our leadership team is in 2022, that team is even stronger in 2037.

LET’S DO THIS

To the leaders of 2037: MN wants to do everything it can to develop you into the leader you want to be. There are always opportunities to take on more responsibility here at MN, regardless of your job title—and we are excited to work with the employee-owners who seize them.


To the leaders of today: It may feel strange to contemplate someone eventually taking your place but recognizing potential candidates now is critical to our success down the line. We all have a stake in identifying and developing the leaders who will take what we’ve built in the last 15 years and make something even greater in the years to come. For all of us.


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