Lesson 7: Give credit where it’s due

Building a company over 50 years is no small feat. It would be easy for those at Kenroc to think of themselves as exceptionally smart. Ken Sexton resists the temptation.

“You cannot build a business without a market,” he said.

Employees are reminded of this. When sales are up, it isn’t because of one person’s brilliance. It’s because prices are rising, the market is strong and Kenroc has listened to and served their customers’ needs. For 50 years, Western Canada has been a terrific market.

“Give credit where credit is due,” said Sexton. “One, our success was because we were in a fantastic market. And, two, our team rose to the occasion.”

Rising to the occasion is something all Kenroc employees are expected to do. Dave Vitkauskas, one of Kenroc’s newest employees, must do exactly that to get the company’s newest branch up and running in Victoria. Just a few months in on the job, he is ready to generate sales. His tactics are reminiscent of what Ken did in his earliest days.

“Offer old fashioned service. You acknowledge people by name. If they have an issue, you address it. If you need to get back to them, you get back to them,” said Vitkauskas, just moments after meeting with a potential new customer.

“Be interested and engaged in their business. Go see them in their office or on their job site or another place where they feel free to talk about business. You just need to care about your customer’s business.”

“The customer always has choice. They can vote with their feet if you don’t give them the service,” said Vitkauskas.

Listening to customers to truly understand their needs and to help them prosper is how Kenroc has been successful this long. Employees at Kenroc embrace that approach.

“The credit for growing the business simply belongs to the people,” said Brian Kusisto, president of Kenroc and all its operating entities.

Others would give Sexton and Kusisto kudos for their leadership being a factor in the company’s achievements.

“What I’ve seen in both those individuals is a commitment to the industry, a commitment to employees, and a commitment to customers, and strong values, executed each and every day. That’s who I would say has given us the opportunity to grow,” said Brian McCormick, vice president of Kenroc.

The example set by Sexton was one others in the company recognize and could adopt.

“It was never about the money for Ken. It was always about making something better and I believe that has been our goal since the beginning of this company,” said McCormick.

That success started small – a single location on North Railway in Regina 50 years ago. It has grown to encompass 16 locations spread across Western Canada. A commitment to meet and exceed the expectations of all customers, regardless of size or needs, has persisted.

The primary lesson learned at Kenroc? Strive to “be the best.” It’s what they trust will carry them forward another 50 years.