[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]n an exclusive interview, Aavalar Consulting CEO Joe Yesulaitis reflects on key issues from the first fourteen years and looks forward to a future that he believes is full of promise for his organization. Interviewer: What is it that Aavalar Consulting does? Yesulaitis: We are a staff augmentation and recruitment solutions firm that helps hiring managers deploy in-demand, skilled consultants and contractors at client sites across the Mid-Atlantic region. We founded the business in 1999, and have worked hard to build an award-winning reputation with over one hundred of the most innovative Fortune 500 and mid-market companies in the area. We deliver value primarily through staff augmentation services – but we also provide statement of work services and direct placement services. We have been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies for the third time, and we’ve had the honor of being named a SmartCEO Future 50 award winner. Interviewer: What is the founding vision for the company? Yesulaitis: Our vision is simple. We aim to connect companies with the right talent, enhance client profitability, and deliver the best possible service, selection, quality, and value every single time. Interviewer: Why do you do what you do? Yesulaitis: I’ve already founded, built and sold a previous IT consulting and staffing firm to a very large national firm, but the entrepreneur in me wanted to do it again. I want Aavalar to be an industry and regional leader and provide hundreds of mid-Atlantic clients the best possible industry talent and service, while offering the best employment opportunities to our people. To accomplish this, we need to sustain our 98% placement success rate and be known by most hiring managers, consultants and contractors as a top five regional, award-winning company. Interviewer: How do you keep the executive team and employees focused on the company’s mission? Yesulaitis: That’s a great question. We took the time to define a very clear “true north”, and we only hire people who can help us work toward company goals and reach new heights. Everyone, including myself, focuses on achieving the most important objectives and we all understand how our work adds value to the organization. Each member of our team understands the vision and how their time and effort adds up to make it a reality. We all work as one to move Aavalar toward that vision. Each of us understands our specific and defined role, and every person on our team has clear responsibility and real accountability. Everyone inside Aavalar is held accountable, everyone understands their role, responsibilities are specific and goals are measurable. This has created an environment of accountability, trust, and teamwork. Interviewer: Have you as the CEO led the company through any major shifts? If so, how has this change affected the success or profitability of the organization? Yesulaitis: We’ve worked hard to become the most reliable, easiest-to-use provider in the Mid-Atlantic region, while delivering the highest/best quality, service and advice. Our team is focused on providing fast, flexible and accurate talent delivery, and we center our efforts on enabling superior talent outcomes, and earning and maintaining trust of leading executives and clients. We’ve brought in experienced staffing operations and marketing leaders to help us redouble our focus and efforts to build a well-run organization. We’ve hired experienced staffing sales people, and added a few high-caliber recruiters with experience in the industries we focus on, including: Information Technology, Finance and Accounting and Engineering. We’re making sure that every aspect of our operation provides maximum value for our clients, and this means expanding our presence in the Philadelphia market and across the Mid-Atlantic region, and helping our clients – and even our core team – reach new levels of success. Interviewer: How do you and the executive management team effectively plan and measure company growth? Yesulaitis: What made me great at starting the business is really no longer relevant to being successful today. Now, I focus most of my efforts on searching for great talent, reinforcing our values and creating a great culture, making sure everyone understands our vision, and locking in the financing we need to scale up the organization. Interviewer: How do you communicate your company’s growth trajectory to your employees? Yesulaitis: We have built Aavalar around four components that work together. We have a clear and focused business. Everyone in the company is aligned with our culture. Everyone is working toward one clear vision – our “true north”. And each of us clearly sees the path forward. We do this because we want to create a performance-oriented business. What does this mean? It means we have the right people on the bus, and only hire people who are qualified, innovative, and want to help us reach the company goal. It means that we only hire people who are inspired to do their best and we make sure everyone has clearly defined roles, responsibilities and accountabilities and can actually execute. It also means we are a data-driven business where we monitor our goals and numbers and spot problems within our strategy early, not after it’s too late. Everyone in our organization is accountable to hit at least one number that defines their success. It also means we are a process-driven business with documented processes and procedures across operations, marketing, sales and recruiting, and with everyone striving to improve productivity and eliminate excess and waste. This all works together to help us plan and communicate well, set expectations, focus our efforts, execute, and measure more accurately. Interviewer: What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced in leading the company? What lessons did you learn from that experience? Yesulaitis: The biggest challenge was clearly the financial meltdown of 2008. This was actually worse than 911 and the Dot Com bubble. I learned about keeping a steady hand as you drive through the storm. We might not be able to control what’s going on around us, but we can try not to panic and keep doing what we know works best. During that time, I learned a lot about austerity and fiscal restraint. When every penny counts, you learn how to save in ways you never thought of before, and you learn how to get things done with less. Interviewer: What defines a great leader? How would you best describe your personal leadership style? Yesulaitis: I need to quote Jack Welch on this one. The four E’s.. high Energy, the ability to Energize others, the Edge to make tough decisions, and finally the ability to Execute on their plan. My leadership style is straight forward, no non-sense, and lead by example. Interviewer: Describe a turning point in your company’s growth. What lessons did you learn? Yesulaitis: There isn’t just one turning point in growth. Growth is constant. What you learn is that you need to hire people who are much better than you to perform various functions that you used to do yourself. In other words, building a great team is what’s important. Like Jim Collins said in his book Good to Great, get the right people on the bus and get the wrong people off the bus. In the past, I took too much time to do both. Interviewer: What do you believe is the ideal future for your company? Yesulaitis: I want Aavalar to be an award-winning, and regionally recognized, staff augmentation and recruitment solutions provider generating north of $20 million in sales per year. I also want to look back and be able to say we made a difference in our clients’ lives, in the lives of our employees, and in our industry.