Mike Abrashoff, former U.S. Navy Captain
Originally published: 12.01.16 by Terry Tanker
Terry Tanker sat down with Doug Young, president and chief operating officer of Lennox Residential Heating & Cooling and outgoing chairman of The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). The two discussed government regulations, building a winning team and being a great leader.
Playing golf and traveling with my fiancée Lucy.
I’d like to visit the Grand Canyon, go white water rafting on the Colorado River and take a month to travel through Europe.
I’m from Chicago and went to the series clinching divisional playoff game — it was great. Since the Cubs won the World Series, I guess you could say I did scratch one off.
Build a lake house. We’re building on Lake Keowee in South Carolina. We’re very excited. It’s going to be a place to entertain family and friends.
When you travel as much as I do, you expect to encounter some issues. Unfortunately, it seems I’ve had more than my fair
I don’t get excited easily. My dad was pretty calm and never yelled. I think I’m a lot like that.
Give it all you’ve got and walk away proud.
I was surprised at just how big an opportunity we have in front of us. Our trade association and members can, and should, have a larger voice on Capitol Hill and we’re working to do just that. Collectively, we need to up our game and be involved in the early discussions of future regulations. We’ve made strides, but there’s a lot of opportunity.
I’m most surprised that everybody’s so surprised. The media, the polls … they just missed it by a mile. The process has become really long and, for the most part, ugly. As a nation, we miss out on some really great leaders because they simply don’t want to subject themselves to the scrutiny and abuse.
My initial thought would be yes, simply because the pace of regulations over the last eight years has been high and it hasn’t been as productive as it could have been. We need a middle ground and we haven’t seen that in a long time.
Back when regional standards were implemented, that was tough and expensive. As an industry we accomplished it, but it wasn’t easy.
[Laughs] I don’t think there is such a thing as a typical day anymore. I spent 15 years at GE; Jack Welch used to say 50 percent of his time was spent on people. I don’t think I spend 50 percent, but it is significant and I don’t mean that in a negative way. In my position, there’s a lot of planning — strategic, personnel, product, etc. After it’s complete, you have to be deliberate about the action steps. Then there’s the everyday running of the company with the array of normal meetings.
Our three businesses — residential, commercial and refrigeration — incorporate strategies that work and execute well together. There’s something to be said about keeping priorities in place, and not changing them every time the wind blows like so many companies do. If you go back to the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, I think we have a bit of the flywheel effect in some of the things we’re doing. And it’s exciting for us.
Putting together a high performing team. I think I’ve become good at getting the right people on the field and getting them to work in a coordinated fashion toward our long- and short-term goals.
Without question, it’s our culture. I don’t want it to sound cliché, but we have a big corporate environment with a family feel. Our people know each other, they care about each other and they’re dedicated. When someone is out of the office, I see the team jumping in and helping out. It’s really special. I can’t articulate it any better than explaining the longevity we have with employees — it’s not uncommon to look and see people who’ve been with us 25, 35 and even 45 years or more. That’s no accident.
It can be if we’re hiring from outside the company. I recently hired a high level manager from outside the company, but it took me seven months. I didn’t want to settle, and I’m glad I didn’t because she’s a perfect fit for us at Lennox.
The challenge is to ensure the recruiter understands not only the job specifications, but also your company culture and the personality “fit” you’re looking for. Spending time with the recruiter is important.
You mean like “The Ten Commandments of Doug?” [laughs] No, no I don’t. This all goes back to our culture, and hiring the right people to execute strategies and our overall plan. It makes managing much easier.
People are too important to just settle on whoever is available. It’s the reason you either have success or you fall short. If you have the right players in the right positions, good succession plans; you’re going to win more often than not.
I’ve been saying this for years: There are two pieces of an owner’s job. They have to work “in” the business and “on” the business. Too often, more is spent “in.” For many, because of their background, they prefer the “in,” but “on” will give them the best result.