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14 Years with the CEO Collective: A Journey of Growth and Transformation
July 5, 2024

What motivated you to join the Katahdin Group’s CEO Collective 14 years ago? When I joined the Katahdin Group’s CEO Collective, I had just moved from being President/CFO to CEO. I chose to be part of a peer group because I was new to the role and lacked some of the experience necessary to meet my team's and investors' growth objectives. I had considered Vistage and YPO but realized the Collective was the best fit for my needs. We get deep into cases and topics; it’s not just a networking group.

What was your mission when you joined, and how has the business transformed since then? My mission was clear: to shift the business from founder-led to professionally managed. Fast forward, and we've expanded the business sevenfold, surpassing $500M with a path toward a billion and beyond in revenue. We've successfully navigated fourteen acquisitions, weathered three PE transactions, and revamped the leadership team to propel the business forward. The market and environment are always fluid, never static, so getting feedback and working on versus in the business is critical.

How have you benefited from the cases and topics presented in the CEO Collective? We’ve done so many cases over the years, and I find as much value when other CEOs present because there are always takeaways and ideas I can leverage in our organization. The benefit of neutral, unbiased feedback is that we might hear things we hadn’t heard before, get a diversity of thought, or reinforce plans and ideas.

How has the CEO Collective contributed to your personal and professional development? I continue to learn and evolve. Eliassen Group will never be a 10, and neither will I; we need continuous adaptation. The group helps me with emotional intelligence, strategy, and execution. In turn, the CEO Collective has also changed. While there are tried and true methods, some of the processes have evolved. Not one size fits all, and I think the Katahdin team has been open to change, whether it be the meetings or the annual offsites, which I think are valuable.

How have you applied the learnings from the CEO Collective within your own organization? I’ve tried to cascade some of the processes and learnings I’ve taken from the CEO Collective, such as our annual commitments, the cadence of our meetings, and how we drive to execute on them or pivot and fail fast.

What opportunities do you see for the CEO Collective to grow and impact more businesses? I think the CEO Collective has the opportunity to continue to expand and leverage former CEO members as new facilitators. The Strategic Ascent planning process is also a valuable tool we’ve leveraged that I think more companies can take advantage of, whether they are in the program or not. I encourage CEOs to consider the CEO Collective, understanding concerns about time availability and commitment, but what better use of time than to dedicate it toward the strategy and execution initiatives in your business.

Can you provide an example of how the CEO Collective has supported you through a challenging business initiative? My CEO Collective peers have been my steadfast companions through the highs and lows of both successful and unsuccessful acquisitions, service expansions, and reorganizations. For example, when I faced a roadblock with our "Branch in Box" growth plan, I wrote the case and sought unbiased feedback from peers who had encountered similar hurdles. Their insights provided actionable steps, swiftly altering the trajectory of the initiative.

What is the overall impact of being a member of the CEO Collective? The impact of being in the group has proven invaluable, delivering returns that far exceed the time and money invested in the Katahdin Group. Just as importantly, I’ve created numerous trusted relationships and friendships. I feel comfortable following up with members on their experiences and advice; I don’t need to wait for a meeting to get feedback. That’s the reason I've remained a member all these years.

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