EMPLOYEES' CHOICE AWARDS: Christie & Walther Communications - Reinvigorated turnaround

Mark
Mark Brownlee
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While some workplaces outfit lunch rooms with ping-pong tables and high-end coffee machines, Joe Hickey is the first to admit the break rooms at Christie & Walther Communications aren’t much to look at.

From left, Christie & Walther vice-president of sales Joe Hickey, tower site manager Frank Roberge, president and owner Charles Walther, financial controller Sandy Holburn and service manager Sal Hussary.

A formica table sits in the middle of one. Another room features containers of Folgers coffee sitting atop a refrigerator.

There’s not much new with the spaces where workers rest while on the job, but such physical updates are a secondary concern for the company, whose 65 employees are more energized by several cultural changes in recent years.

Mr. Hickey, the firm’s vice-president of sales, says it all started with a philosophical shift in how the company pursues new business.

About a year ago the company – which specializes in two-way radio systems – was “down in the dumps,” says Mr. Hickey. Managers weren’t aggressively bringing in new customers and employees were doing their work, but they weren’t too keen on going beyond the minimum of what was expected of them, he says.

The situation changed when the firm brought in a new marketing team – of which Mr. Hickey was a part – and started to pursue bigger clients that promised to bring in thousands of dollars more in revenue.

Instead of sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring, they started to go out and communicate using e-mail and direct mail campaigns with potential new customers that had yet to express an interest in their product.

Business started to increase and managers started to notice a difference in morale, even among those who didn’t work directly in sales, such as service technicians or accounting employees.

“It all starts with an attitude shift in the company (to) being more aggressive,” says Mr. Hickey, sitting at a table on the main floor of the firm’s building. “If you’re more aggressive, you win more business, and if you win more business, people feel better.”

A number of other initiatives helped too, he says.

The company held a contest among employees to name a new product being developed, what Mr. Hickey describes as a new airtime network based on technology from Motorola. (The winning entry: the PushPlus Network.)

Christie & Walther also improved its employee benefits program, introducing an eyecare plan for the first time. Additionally, the sales team was expanded, creating new opportunities for growth.

“When the business starts to succeed, people start to feel more energized on their job,” says Mr. Hickey.

CHRISTIE & WALTHER COMMUNICATIONS

FOUNDED: 1962

EMPLOYEES: 65

CLIENTS: The County of Lanark, Ernst & Young Centre, Hawkesbury Fire Department, Carl’s Waste Services.

ECAs: 1

Christie & Walther Communications is one of 10 local recipients of an Employees' Choice Awards.

Organizations: Folgers, Motorola

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