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Last Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Key Idea: Let Others Take Over

Oregon Log Home is no longer a one-man operation.  The founder has attracted some of the industry's most experienced and creative people.

Key Question:


Hire people and let them do their job.

Q: What was Mike's biggest mistake for years?

A: Mike had low expectations and an unrealistic view of his own abilities. He didn't realize he was as good as he was and that he truly could attract the kind of people he has today. Winning the award led to an awakening for him.

Avocent makes a box to remotely control PCs and servers from 25 feet to 25,000 miles. Its founder, Remigius Shatas, knew from day one that he could not build a business alone.

He went out early and recruited his boss, a banker named Steve Thorton. Even with Steve, it took years of hard work and in 2000 they did $228 million in sales.

How do you go about the task of letting others take over?

A: Pam McNair, founder of Gadabout Salon and Spas says we need to delegate with design. By this she means prepare. Think hard about the job to be delegated and about the person to whom you will delegate. Using the same analytical skills she developed as a hairdresser, Pam is able to turn jobs over to people on her terms who are best suited to the task. Just like she used to make her clients look good, Pam studies her employees then designs jobs that will make them not only look good but feel good too.

What is the ultimate delegation task?

Putting a succession plan in place which means you eventually replace and fire yourself. Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's -- the company that makes the best pretzel you have ever tasted in your life -- said she wants her company to out live her. She has acted on her goals by recruiting Sam Beiler and naming him President of the company.

He is qualified first because she trusts him. They both used this most important word when talking about the success they have had at passing the leadership torch. The inability to place trust in another person is probably the biggest reason entrepreneurs fail to put a leadership succession plan in place.

Most companies die with their founder or they die when the founder decides to quit working. Some would throw these types of companies into a category called "lifestyle companies." In other words, the company was a vehicle for the founder to live a certain kind of life. We disagree. Most small businesses would-could-and-should have a life separate and apart from the founder. If the founder would first learn to trust, it opens the way so the founder could find people in which to place that trust. And the business, with all its customers, suppliers, and employees, should continue to perfect relations, systems, and their contributions to their community and world. Happily this is the case with Anne.

Before he became president of Auntie Anne's, Sam spent years in the field. He and his wife became Auntie Anne's franchise owners in 1989, and then he became an employee of the corporation working with franchise owners. He was perfectly groomed. You might wonder about his last name being the same as Anne's. The two are cousins. The fact that Anne and Sam are related could bring up the seemingly endless discussion around family-business issues. Our observation of this situation is that endless communication internally at headquarters and externally to the franchisees has made the family relation a non-issue. Sam worked his way to the top. He was not given anything that he did not earn simply because his last name is Beiler.

Think about it

 When was the last time you delegated a task? Are you happy with the results? What could you do to improve? What keeps you from passing the torch? Do you have someone you are training that can move into your place soon? Are you nervous that if you pass the torch, you won't have anything to do? Do you think your life might feel empty if you don't have to be in the office everyday?

Clip from: Oregon Log Homes - they're building beauty.

National Home Builders'  "Best in America" Award

Oregon: As a young ski instructor on Mount Hood, Mike Neary built his first log home for himself.  When friends and family all bragged on it and wanted a log home too, he knew he had stumbled on to his life's work.

Today his company, Oregon Log Homes, builds the most beautiful log homes in the world.  The National Home Builders Association gave it "The Best In American Living" award and that won the attention of Disney.  Oregon Log Home was given the opportunity to build the Fort Wilderness Lodge in Orlando.

While much of the work is done by hand, Mike invented a way to automate some of the process which keeps the company competitive while still thoroughly unique.

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Oregon Log Homes, Inc.

Mike Neary, CEO, founder

1399 N. Highway 197
Maupin, OR 97037

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Year Founded:

Let Others Take Over

MIKE: When we moved to the location we're at now, which is on the highway, we started to experience some growth and found out that first we need some more people, mainly in the office. You know, we were always trying to do most of the work ourselves, so we started adding people. When we got the award for this home, we added more people, which was good. I mean, that's the point where we hired people that were heavily qualified.

Up to that point, it was always a little scary to bring someone in. You kinda have that sense of, `Well, I don't want to bring him in. He might be overqualified for this business.' Well, that's not the case. The higher quality of people you bring in, the faster your business is going to grow.

HATTIE: So do you think you would have grown faster had you done 10 years ago what you did just five years ago, which is bring people like Jeff in?

MIKE: I think we would have, yes. I think definitely now I totally rely on the employees that we have in that company. I am not a businessman. I grew up cutting logs and so I'm a builder. So to get into the business end of it, the entrepreneurial end was very difficult for me 'cause when I would look out in the yard I'd say, `Boy, they should be doing faster. They should be going quicker.' I think the main thing I've learned is that you have to let your employees--if you're making money and your business is doing well, they're doing something right, leave 'em alone. And that was the hardest lesson I think I've ever had.

HATTIE: Because they could never do it as fast as you can.

MIKE: Never. 

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