ITC Incorporated has three owned and staffed locations, Hudsonville, MI, Elkhart, IN, and Guandong Province, China. We have a tradition of celebrating with our co-workers throughout the year, and as has become a tradition Mike Camarota, president of ITC, addresses the employees during the celebrations.
The below is the transcript of Mike’s address given at the 2019 Annual Year End celebration for our China location.
Mike highlights some of the exciting developments that are coming in 2019 and lays out guidelines for continued development of the ITC culture.
Annual Party Address | Mike Camarota | January 2019
It is once again a great honor to speak at the ITC annual party. My only regret is that I cannot be with you in person this year. I truly enjoyed being present for the event the past two years. The team does an amazing job of organizing the event and I know many of you have put in hours of practice on your skits. I expect some of them will be funny, others impressive and all entertaining. Each will include energy and enthusiasm. It is this energy and enthusiasm that contributed to ITC’s success in 2018.
If 2017 was the year of physical expansion, 2018 was the year of operational and personal advancement. At ITC alone, we added 34 new positions, countless work instructions, and new processes that strengthened all of our teams. Our vendors followed our example and changes are notable in both people and processes that are yielding better and more responsive products and services. Aristotle is reported to have said, ”We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” In 2018, we worked very hard to live up to this credo.
At ITC, we have built a culture of trust and care for others. We have grown not by focusing solely on short term financial gain but instead focusing on people and finding ways to help people succeed. We search for these same culture traits in our vendors as we think these traits lead to long term success. Caring for others is an on going quest without end that serves a business interest. People who feel appreciated perform better. While we can be proud of our recent success in building a great team, we cannot be content. An American celebrity scientist named Bill Nye, the Science Guy, once said that “Everyone that you will ever meet knows something that you don’t.” We need to learn from each other each day. I have a plaque on my desk that says “Best Idea Wins.” It does not say the President’s idea wins or General Manager’s idea wins. Instead, great ideas can come from anywhere. Great companies do a great job at listening.
Listening can be a challenge for ITC. Today, we have over 240 people and by year end we likely will have over 300 with each and every one of them busy with home and work activities. To add to that listening challenge, we have three locations along with culture and language divides between American and China. We can quickly fall into an isolation mode in which we retract from learning and helping others. Recently, I was at a training in which I was shown a video of an experiment with an injured person lying on the ground pleading for help on a busy street and several people walked by that person without stopping to help. As I watched the video, I wanted to believe that I would act differently and would stop to help. But would I? Would you? There is a Christian story in the Bible called the Good Samaritan. In this story, a man is lying injured near a road and two respected men walk by him without offering to help and only the third man, a poor man from an “undesirable” ethnic background stops and helps the man. The message of the story is implicit: Which man do you respect, the one who looks nice and has a fancy job title or the one the helps and serves others? Can you see how this message applies to the person at the next desk or department?
ITC’s success is dependent on each person’s contribution. The service we provide is like a chain and any break in the chain whether it is in design, manufacturing, delivery, sales or quality will lead to customer dissatisfaction. The world is growing smaller every day and more competition is prevalent. We must be diligent to keep our chain strong. The good news is that we do not have to maintain the chain alone. We have each other to pick us up when we fall down or make a mistake. Our team can succeed with individual mistakes as long as we cover for each other so that any impact on the customer is minimal. I seldom get upset about an individual mistake but get very frustrated when several people could have corrected a mistake before it resulted in customer dissatisfaction but failed to help each other be successful. However, this team concept cannot be sustained by a few people believing in it. A few people preaching about importance of caring for teammates is like a speech from a politician. Real change, real movement to growth comes from those courageous enough to be first followers. First followers encourage others to follow and soon the masses believe it is safe and desirable to be part of new process and culture. Mother Teresa once said, “Don’t wait for leaders. Do it alone, person to person.” Each of us has the opportunity to help others maintain the chain. Together, we can make a durable chain.
Finally, Mother Teresa also said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ITC has made many ripples during the past year and we are far from done. We are positioned to continue to grow and expand in 2019 but such growth will come only if we respect each other and look first to extend ourselves to others. Our financial happiness starts with the happiness generated from caring for others.
I wish you all a blessed Happy New Year filled with joy, fun and laughter!!