“What do we stand for and why do we exist?” This should never change. And then feel free to change everything elseBuilt To Last

By the mid-90’s, we were steadily growing and saw a need to create new business management processes. Growth is a mixed blessing, it can be a litmus for success, but it is also one of the most common reasons businesses fail. For Harrington Group, growth had the potential to change the makeup of the company. To help preserve our core business principals and not let them get diluted as we added new staff, I looked for ideas.

To get help, one of the books I read was Built To Last. In this book, there was a framework which demonstrated a way to build the business and maintain our root structure, our core identity. We needed to solidify in writing what was good about us – our core ideology.  Our core essence, clearly defined, became our true north, the one thing about us that would never change.  Then, everything else about us would be allowed to change to capitalize on furture opportunities.

With our core ideology clearly established, we were able to uniformly manage the business by making decisions in harmony with our core, while freely evolving and continuously re-inventing ourselves. An example of this can be found in our mix of business segments.  In the early 1990s, about 70% of our revenue came from architects and engineering consulting firms involved in the new construction business.  Today, less than 20% of our revenue comes from this segment.  Over 80% of our revenue comes from clients that we have been serving for over 10 years, some over 20 years.  We have accomplished this by constantly evolving our fire protection services to meet the needs of our clients, while keeping our core ethics constant.

Harrington Group’s core ethics consist of Core Purpose and Core Values.

Our Core Purpose is:

To create an atmosphere of client intimacy and deliver results that consistently exceed the client’s own expectation of value through the application of creativity, innovation, and technical excellence

Our Core Values are:

  • Satisfy the needs of others to a high degree through providing exceptional SERVICE
  • Continually strive for a high level of professional COMPETENCE
  • HONESTY and truthfulness in all things
  • Conduct all affairs with INTEGRITY, with sound moral and ethical principle
  • Treat each other and all individuals touched by the firm with RESPECT

Strategies For Core Values

Writing your values down on a table cloth or a brown paper bag is a good first step, but it will not maintain the makeup of your business by itself. To create a living and breathing value system, standard business practices turn the written words into real world actions.

Recognition – we display our Core Purpose and Core Vision prominently in our office, on our web site, in our proposals and contracts, and in other printed materials.

Reflection – we conduct periodic assessments of employee morale and client satisfaction.

Example – we keep updated Success Stories on our web site and encourage employees to read and become familiar with them. We’ve also added a blog on our web site to familiarize both clients and employees with our approach.

Intimacy – we go the extra mile for our clients, and in the process of doing so, we get to know their business very well.  We also get to know the client associates we interface with on a personal level.  Success in this regard is measured by clients who call us for advice in areas outside of our fire protection consultant expertise.  This happens when there is intimacy and a high level of trust between us and our clients.  It happens regularly.

Education – we communicate to our staff information about our clients, the work we are doing for them, and the measurable value we deliver to them.  We communicate with our clients about subjects we know they are interested in or have a need to be aware of via phone calls, emails, and our monthly newsletter.

Since founding Harrington Group in 1986, we have sought to create an atmosphere of client intimacy and deliver results that consistently exceed the client’s own expectation of value through the application of creativity, innovation, and technical excellence. I’m excited to say that 25 years later, we have been successful in this endeavor.  Our reputation in the fire protection engineering industry and our A-List clients who have trusted us as their fire protection consultants for over two decades bear testimony to this achievement.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.