Presidential Point of View--With John Heakin

September 28, 2007

As President of your organization what does an average day look like?

I wake at 5:30, make some coffee, look at the paper, check some headlines on CNN, CNBC, and The Weather Channel. At 7:00, I log on and look at email that came in overnight. By 7:15, I know where we stand on every job in every city and start sending remarks to my managers. I get to work at 9, reply to customers and vendors, and phone mailers. Depending on the day of the week, week of the month, and our payroll and mall rental payment cycles, I'm checking our cash flow. Everyday, there are adjustments to be made in billing and clients who are late paying. I approve vendor invoices. Throughout the day I sneak a peak at our job log to see who has been added, how many cities, and the size of the project. I have to remind managers to get invoices in. I am constantly on the lookout for new customers, and more and better employees. At times, I am involved in charitable activities, MRA committees, and Southern Illinois University alumni activities. Since I work most Saturdays, and check into our progress online on Sundays, I have no problem doing outside things in the office. When I get home between 6-7 pm, I check my email first thing, and then again at 10 as I get ready to turn in for the night.

What was the best business decision you ever made?

I know this is really trite and soapy, but marrying my wife was really one of the best things in my career. Maureen was an End User client of mine back in 1977 when we began dating. She was a young Field Director who was trying to learn the ropes. So I would work with her and I'm sure she benefited from that in many ways. On the other hand, she was great in explaining the whys and wherefores of the client side, so I was well served by that. Socially, it was enormous. Frankly, a lot of Research Suppliers treat field service people rudely, although I have to say that the Presidents of those companies were generally very congenial and complimentary to me throughout my career. After I married an End User, that all changed. Standing beside Maureen guaranteed polite and respectful treatment, and invitations to many events I would not have been invited to otherwise. So people who would not have bothered, got to know me, and that helped the Heakin family as it was an advantage our competitors did not enjoy.

As a business leader how do you measure success?

Satisfaction in a job well done. But the national recognition we have received for a lifetime of dedication to excellence through MRA committee work (now 35 years) and financial rewards have been more than I ever imagined.

Are there certain qualities that you look for in people you are hiring?

Enthusiasm. Professionalism. Integrity. Experience. Commitment. Loyalty. I want people with a sense of style so that all my stakeholders will see we are a professional organization. We have very high standards for maintenance of our facilities, dress codes and employee behavior, to communicate that belief.

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