Our Past, Present, and Future
Last month, USCCG celebrated its 46th anniversary. With a rich history of successful projects and satisfied clients, we know that we must be doing something right. As we begin another year in this business, I felt this was good time to get our CEOs, George Coffey and Jim Ostrosky, to share their thoughts on the company’s evolution and their vision for the future. Below is the first part of our interview:
When did you start with USCCG?
George: I started in 1978, as a project consultant in our operating group and progressed through management positions. Ultimately, I moved out to LA to run our projects on the west coast, and then I moved into business development. I became a Business Development Executive, a Regional Manager, Analyst, and ultimately headed up all of Business Development.
Jim: I started in 1979, and entered our operating group at the entry-level; Project Consultant. I spent the majority of my career in Operations, working at every level from a Project Consultant on up to VP-Senior Operations Manager. When the company decided it was time to put a technology practice together, I moved over from directly working in operations to help organize our CTS group. I co-ran Operations and lead the CTS efforts that we now know as LINCS, as well as some of the other client offerings we have.
How do you feel business has changed, back when you started to today?
George: One of the most significant changes is that we had shorter business acquisition cycles back then. Typically, we would meet with a prospective client, determine whether or not there was a compelling value thesis, develop scope, move into feasibility study to more fully develop the business case for moving forward, and get a very quick decision. Today, for a number of reasons, prospective clients are more cautious, the process has slowed, and there is an opportunity cost for these delays in decision-making. More importantly, when I first started, more of our focus was on manufacturing and labor productivity. Today our approach is to address overall EBITDA performance improvement by driving operational excellence across all aspects of our clients’ business, across the entire supply chain including SG&A, Spend Management, Asset Performance Management, Rationalization/Consolidation, Acquisition Integration, Quality, Service, as well as cost reduction. So today, we are much more focused on overall financial performance.
Jim: One thing that is similar is that it’s still a people business. In the 1980’s we would talk about the fact that 80% of our efforts were focused on helping people understand the change process, find out what they are dissatisfied about in their current operation, and help them make that transition; 20% of it was on the technical aspects of what actually had to be changed in order to realize the results. One might argue the ratio 80-20 or 60-40, but ours remains a people business. Other than the people aspect, everything else has changed, the whole world has changed, and we were forced to change our approach as well. Technology entered into the picture and our clients’ expectations certainly changed. Clients are looking for a group to come in make an impact, make it quickly, and drive the value, then move on. Another major difference today is who owns businesses. In the past we dealt with many entrepreneurs, while today, Private Equity has entered the market and has a lot to say about what goes on and that brings different pressures that we have had to adapt to as well. It’s still a people business, but the expectations have certainly changed from the timing of results, the depth of results, and clients who are less patient than ever and expecting more.
How would you describe the way we do business?
George: A cornerstone of our business has always been long-term relationships. In any given year, typically two-thirds of our business, or more, is the result of existing relationships and that’s underwritten by the fact that we’ve done what we’ve said we would do. We make time-bound, realistic projections of what can be accomplished, and then we meet or exceed those projections. Our business is performance improvement. We are not about products, we are about outcomes. We have an extensive array of tools including technology, methodology, and processes that we apply within the context of an intended result. Most importantly we bring to bear a powerful organization of talented subject matter experts (domain, industry methodology) that are highly experienced in designing and implementing performance improvement programs. We can drive improvement in many creative ways and we architect our client relationships based on circumstances and timing.
Jim: I would say, the two R’s: relevance and relationships. We’ve stayed relevant and found a way to deliver value in an ever-changing world. It’s definitely a relationship business in a networked world. We are proud to have worked almost continuously for a couple of clients over the past couple of decades. We recently did a project for a client that we worked for in 1970. The third generation is now running the company, but there was enough staying power to what we implemented and the credibility that we established that when they had a need we were called in to again help with their current challenges. Our goal is always delivering value, and at the end of the day, our clients love us as long as we do what we say. And we definitely do what we say. We feel we’ve always been market driven and client centric, and have had to adapt over the years to survive. Whatever the market or our clients demand, that is what we learn to do. The clients who were the most demanding over time caused us to change and adapt the most, and we are very grateful for those demanding clients. They caused us to really push the envelope for us and for them, but their confidence in us and our ability to do what we say, created great partnerships. By working with them we are able to establish many of the new offerings that we have.
Where do you see USCCG going forward into the future?
George: We’ve always gone to market and organized as a hybrid model, meaning that we have horizontal domain offerings with subject matter experts in areas such as Asset Performance Management, Business Intelligence, Spend Management, and others. We can drive that horizontal domain expertise across different industries. We also have a vertical approach in certain industries because they have significant issues that are specific to those industries such as Mining and Healthcare. We will continue to expand both approaches as we move forward with more offerings, more adjacencies, as well as further develop more industry focus as it relates to our vertical approach.
Jim: Looking ahead to the future, in addition to all the industries we currently serve, we will continue to expand in the areas of healthcare and energy. These are two growth areas with tremendous needs and opportunities for us. In addition, demand for Procurement and Logistics will also continue to grow. The logistics of buying things from the other side of the world and having them delivered to your doorstep creates both challenges and opportunities. As our clients globalize their supply chains, they have those same challenges. How do they get their products procured, inventoried, and delivered in a timely and cost efficient manner? Getting it manufactured cheaply in Indonesia is one thing, but getting it to your customer in an efficient manner is another. Globalization is driving much of our current volume, and is a trend that will likely increase. As we have done for the past 46 years, we will continue to be market and client driven and we will remain focused on our clients’ needs as we develop the value added offerings and solutions they are seeking.