Scrap that top-down thinking: Listening to your employees is important

Posted On September 3, 2019

If one were to read a book by a man who built a scrap metal business that includes 77 locations and handles 3½ million tons of recycled metals a year, that book would be about recycling scrap metal.

But the book that George Adams, owner of California-based SA Recycling, decided to write isn’t about recycling. It’s about leadership. And it contains some advice that’s important in any business, whether it’s recycling scrap metal, serving hamburgers or building skyscrapers.

“A company is a shell until you put people in it,” says Adams, our guest on “What’s Working With Cam Marston” recently. “You want a great company, you’ve got to have great people. The only way you have great people is if you treat them right and you empower them and you value them and understand that without them, you’re nothing.”

In his book, “Create the Connection: 25 Surefire Strategies for Success in Leadership and Life,” Adams preaches the importance of creating a company culture, and the unsolicited testimonials I received from some of Adams’ 2,500 employees when they heard he was going to be on our show underscore his point. These are people who believe in their company and in the man running it.

Adams says it goes back to his philosophy of running a company from the bottom up rather than the top down.

“Bottom up means that you believe and you empower the people that are on the ground, you listen to what they say, and you run the company based on the input you get from your people because they’re the ones who are closest to the source,” he says. “I believe the only way to run a company is bottom up.”

Adams also shares the overriding lesson he learned from his father, a World War II tank commander who got in the scrap metal business half a century ago; how a scrap yard operates and why exports are such a big part of his business; why he gives out his cell number and encourages employees to call him with concerns or complaints; why he supports tariffs even though they’re costing him millions; and how a Turkish immigrant worked his way up from being his driver to one of his most successful managers.

Join us for a riveting discussion about scrap metal, leadership and the importance of treating your employees well.

Categories: Entrepreneurship, What's Working with Cam Marston