From Manager to Owner: Lessons Learned

President and Owner of Delkor Systems Dale Andersen shared the lessons he learned during his transition from sales manager to company owner

When Dale Andersen made the decision in 1999 to purchase Delkor Systems he went from being the Sales Manager to the company’s President and Owner. At the time, the company had sold off its main product lines and was a small company of about 10 employees.

The transition from employee to owner was more difficult than Andersen imagined, but he learned quickly that losing money was a great motivator for innovation. That innovative spirit has allowed Delkor to not only transform into one of the leading U.S. manufactures of case packing and robotic packaging machinery, but revolutionize the way many products are packaged and sold. Today, Delkor employs nearly 200 people.

Andersen shared several leadership tips that he learned along the way:

  • Put Communication First – From public speaking to the written word, good communication has become a never-ending, lifelong pursuit for Andersen. And how the message gets delivered is just as important. Andersen stressed that e-mail is not always the best method and when it comes to delivering difficult news, a phone-call or a face-to-face meeting can prevent a lot of miscommunication.
  • Lead with Humility & Understanding – Listening to employees has always been an important part of Andersen’s job. He recently asked employees what changes they would make if they owned the company and is now in the process of implementing many of those suggestions.
  • Lead with Grace – Leaders should be direct, thoughtful and accept responsibility.
  • Focus on Culture – Hiring the right employees is critical the success and growth of a company. Employees need to not only have the technical knowledge, but they need to be a good fit with the company’s culture.
  • Think Strategically & Write It Down – Andersen said when he first bought the company in 1999 he didn’t have a written plan. By taking the time to define how the company should allocate its resources, it enables you to use those resources more effectively.
  • Build Creativity – A creative culture is a benefit to any organization and one of the best ways to stifle creativity is to come down hard on mistakes.

Watch the video of Andersen’s Leadership Lecture: