Last year, when driving his motor coach about 20,000 miles to most of engineer Professional Service Industries' roughly 100 offices, the big danger Randy Larson faced wasn't the driving conditions. It was the possibility that the five-month outreach and team-building tour by the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., firm's new president might become "The Larson Show." It was something "we really had to guard against," he says.
Larson's solo trip, which included nights parked at Wal-Marts and office parks, was part of PSI's challenge to its 2,300 employees to double revenue to $500 million in five years. Larson became president in 2011.
Johnny Lowe, a vice president in Charlotte, N.C., admits to thinking "I'll believe it when I see it" when he heard of the "500 in Five" goal. "But seeing and hearing Randy" made the difference, he says. "He was genuine and spoke from the heart. The reaction from staff was genuine belief."
Larson says, often, it was the energized employees who put on the show. In Nashville, senior project manager Doug Williams wrote and performed a song for the occasion. In Charlotte, workers presented him with a golden sledgehammer after he took the first swing to tear down a wall to make way for an office expansion.
The trip also was a manifestation of Larson's business philosophy: "We are only as good as our people, and anyone who thinks differently is a fool," he says. Larson adds that he "would not trade the past five months and the PSI office tour experience for anything. It was a blessing, and something I will remember and cherish for life."