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Key Idea: Have Fun with Employees

The owner and other leaders enjoy basketball and weight lifting right in the warehouse.   Employees laugh as the owner tries but fails to out lift them.   More...

Key Question:

A: 

Lighten everyone's mood with laughter.

Q:
Where did David find his top two executives?

A: At the Little League field. As neighbors and men who had sons playing baseball together, David, Sterling and Dusty discovered they had a great deal in common. These common interests make it easy to work together. The culture of fitness and athletics is obvious with the basketball hoop and weights we found on the warehouse floor.

Q:
Does David believe that money is the primary motivating factor for employees?

A:
No. He believes a quality work environment is more important than the total dollars in the paycheck. You have to pay competitive wages to attract good people, but keeping them is harder and requires constantly listening to them and giving them what they need in their lives. David knows that the people who work for him love freedom to do their work without him looking over their shoulder, so he keeps an arm's distance. 

Think about it

Do you have fun at work?  Do employees laugh?  Do you put yourself in situations where employees can laugh at you?

Clip from: The King Company with David Arnold

Austin, Texas:  He was a high school coach that loved watches.  It all began with a stop watch and became a love for any kind of watch.  The trunk of the family car was always filled with samples. And, he and his wife would go just about anywhere in Texas to find a new drugstore to carry his brand of time. When this story was taped, David had 65 employees and $50 million in annual sales. To create this American dream story, David did a lot of things right.

Look at ways he applied the most sophisticated technologies to the business of ordering, warehousing, selling, shipping and financial transaction processing (collecting on accounts receivable within minutes not 30-60 days).

The watch industry is one of the oldest, but here we learn about some of the newest business practices to create profits and a foundation for the future.

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The King Company, now SMI Direct

David Arnold, founder

Visit our web site: http://www.smidirect.com/

Business Classification:
Distribution

Year Founded: 1991

Have Fun with Employees

Unidentified Man #4: (Voiceover) Yeah, what you're watching here is a machine called the tagger-sorter. And when we receive an order from the sales people, we can have up to 10 different stores on one particular order. The machine will automatically read the bar code on the watch...

HATTIE: (Voiceover) And then the chutes represent a store--there's a box for each store?

Man #4: (Voiceover) That's correct. It also helps our mistakes, so if there was a watch that was pulled incorrectly, it wouldn't read that particular watch. It would run it off the end of the machine...and we could go back and...

HATTIE: So therefore you don't send your customer the wrong stuff...

Man #4: That's correct.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Jogging, shooting baskets and lifting weights are all part of the routine at the King Company. Then, of course, you've got the valuable benefits package of an on-site weight-lifting space.

DAVID: Well, it's--obviously that's something I need to take more...

HATTIE: Yeah, I noticed a lot of muscles around here. I don't know if they used to play football for you.

DAVID: No, no, no, not at all. But we have some very health-conscious individuals here, and I think you can tell it by looking at some of them. I try to keep up with them, but it's very difficult.

HATTIE: Are you saying that people that play together work better together?

Unidentified Man #5: Absolutely.

HATTIE: Right.

Man #5: One big happy family.

HATTIE: Did David ask you how much weight you could press and how many barbells you could pick up before you came to work here?

Unidentified Man #6: No, because he knew I could always do more than he could.

DAVID: How much weight did you put on here?

Unidentified Man #7. It's only 100 pounds. You can do that.

HATTIE: ...have to see. Here we go.

Unidentified Man #8: Want to help him down with it?

DAVID: What? ...I don't know where we are.

HATTIE: OK, so you hired people that are stronger than you.

DAVID: Oh, absolutely.

Man #5: And smarter. And smarter.

Man #7: And smarter.

HATTIE: I was just going to get to that point.

DAVID: If the truth really be known, though...

Man #6: Stronger and smarter.

DAVID: ...we did have a lift-off one day and I won.

Man #6: That's not correct. I tied you.

DAVID: OK. He tied me.

Man #8: He tied.


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HATTIE: OK. I wasn't finished with that. So you hire people who are stronger than you.

DAVID: Right. Well, they're trying to get as strong as I am. So they're getting there.

HATTIE: You hire people that are smarter than you.

DAVID: Absolutely. Absolutely. But not as strong as I am, but much smarter than I am, so... I think what people look for as much as for the money is for a good quality environment to work at. People want to be happy. People don't like to be miserable eight...ten hours a day.

HATTIE: So what does that mean? What is a good quality environment to work in? How do you define that?

DAVID: I don't look over people's shoulders very much. We tell 'em what's expected of 'em. They're free.

HATTIE: ...to do their deals.

DAVID: They're free. I don't monitor telephone calls. I don't--occasionally people would--I have one rule. I have one rule that I've always gone by and I tell everybody when they come to work here, is don't ever take advantage of me.You take advantage of me, we got a problem. You work with me, we'll never have a problem. There's been a few people that have taken advantage of me over the years, but I can say that 99 percent of them understand what I mean by `Don't take advantage of me.' If somebody has a family problem, they need to take care of it...

HATTIE: They go do it.

DAVID: ...they go do it. They don't have to ask, they just have to let us know where they're gone to. If they have a child that's sick and they need to go home and take care of them, or check up on them on the phone, that's fine. I don't monitor their phone calls, I don't monitor--you know, all they have to do is notify their supervisor and it's pretty much a no-questions-asked policy. But don't cross the line. Don't take advantage of me.

HATTIE: Right.

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