How do you not only bring an 85-year-old company into the 21st century, but innovate to create a sustainable future?

This was a question that Marc Blackman, CEO of Gold Eagle Brands, and his team were asking. Golden Eagle Brands is a Chicago-based manufacturer of fuel stabilizers and ethanol treatments. They have built a family of brands that are driven to protect and preserve the things you love.

The challenges that Gold Eagle was facing as a company were both external and internal.

External Challenges
The way people buy products has changed over the last 10 years and will only continue to change as e-commerce grows. Many retailers are closing their doors, so it poses the challenge of how to connect products to the market.  The way we communicate has changed. Digital and social media are replacing TV as a way to effectively connect with customers and build a brand.  And consumers want to feel that connection to a brand as they buy their products – they don’t just want to hear about the product, they want to hear about the company.

Internal Challenges
How do you make an 85-year-old manufacturing company on the Southwest side of Chicago, sexy and attractive to millennials and continue to create a work environment where people can thrive?  

You realize that as a company, you need to change.

Marc became involved with Conscious Capitalism and saw the impact it can have on business. Marc shared, “You have to be successful, but business owners are going to be the stabilizing force. Gold Eagle has always been known as a great place to work with a family culture, but as we learn about what it takes to be successful in the future, we see that our good culture can be so much better.

How are they doing it? For starters: Marc and his executive team made the commitment to transforming their work culture. By reading, Everyone Matters, by Bob Chapman the CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, they became interested in learning how well they are balancing their operating performance, operational stability and people-centric leadership.  

Barry-Wehmiller created the BW Leadership Institute. They they teach companies how to implement their Truly Human Leadership model.

Marc and Dan Stewart, Head of HR for Gold Eagle Brands, paid a visit to Barry-Wehmiller company in Saint Louis to learn from the BW Leadership Institute and are kicking off a workshop with their team at Gold Eagle Brands this month.

Here are some of the things that they have learned so far as they start implementing this model:

  • To transform a culture, you must have early adopters, some mavericks, and have people ready to jump in of their own volition.
  • Empower 20 people who will be ready to jump in early – people who want to be better leaders, from any part of the company – and they don’t need to be part of the leadership team.
  • Leadership needs to use their ears more than their mouths and put their egos aside. Assume that the people who do the work know better than the leaders do.
  • When you start to empower people and leave them feeling that they really matter,  they will take responsible and start setting an example.
  • Celebrate and acknowledge the team when something great happens. Make it a part of the culture, and make it a heartfelt recognition.

Hand-in-hand with their efforts to evaluate culture, Gold Eagle invested in transforming its physical space. Their older office space was ready for an upgrade. They were intentional in their design by creating spaces that inspire collaboration, attracts more millennials and has natural light filling rooms and a floor plan of open space. The new space is truly inspiring. The impact on the company has been connecting the teams, enabling them to communicate more face-to-face with larger, open meeting spaces and a new physical environment that fosters collaboration.

Gold Eagle Brands is among the many companies who are authentically purpose-driven and passionately changing their corner of the world by creating cultures in which their employees are thriving, their stakeholders are served and their leaders are inspiring, creating value and making their companies profitable.

We look forward to checking back with Marc and his team for updates on their cultural transformation. This is how business transforms – one conscious company, leader and employee at a time.

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