Connect with Chip Hautala
Phone: 888-963-moto or 888-963-6686.
Lisa Ryan: Hey, it's Lisa Ryan. Welcome to the Manufacturers' Network Podcast. I'm here today with Chip Hautala. Chip is CEO at MotionSource international. He's an experienced business owner and C-level executive with a demonstrated history of working in the machinery and manufacturing industry. In addition, he has business development skills, working with startups, sales development, budgeting, business planning, and team building. Chip, welcome to the show.
Chip Hautala: Thank you, Lisa, glad to be here.
Lisa Ryan: Chip, please share with us a bit about your background and what led you to MotionSource?
Chip Hautala: I founded MotionSource in 2012. We're in our tenth year. Before that, I was involved in industrial distribution lubrication and hydraulics with another company. I was a CIO and CFO there. After they let me go, a number of our suppliers contacted me and asked me if I had was if I was going to start my own company. I said, well, I hadn't thought about it. After five or six of them came to me and said, you really should start your own company, I did that. That's how MotionSource began.
Lisa Ryan: So you were doing something right if you have vendors and suppliers coming to you and wanting you to start your own company. What do you think are some of the things that you were doing right? You have a pretty cool culture over there. For ten years, you've been doing it. What do you think it was that made those people reach out to you?
Chip Hautala: I think it's because I had hired every person who works there in the former business I was in. I take a team concept as I'm an old ballplayer. People say a small business is a family. I say no. Families can be dysfunctional, but teams work together. Teams always have each other's back. So I developed a team mentality, and I carry that over into MotionSource. My word is my bond. I've never gone back on my word in business, and I think that counts for something.
Lisa Ryan: And how have you incorporated that team concept into MotionSource? What does that look like for your employees?
Chip Hautala: Everyone works together. JFK had a saying that a rising tide lifts all ships. We have profit sharing. Some benefits that make it possible for everyone to work together. We have split commissions. If you were one of our salespeople and you didn't quite know enough about this. There was somebody else in a building and did they can work with you on that. They're going to receive a commission too. You're going to receive a commission, so everybody wins in the end. I'm big on quotes, but there's a Bruce Springsteen quote that says nobody wins unless everybody wins. That's the way I run the business.
Lisa Ryan: That's a unique outlook when it comes to sales. Often you have one salesperson, and they go in, close the account, and get all the commission, even though a lot of other people potentially help them do that. It sounds like you created something that allows everybody on that team to win.
Chip Hautala: Exactly. It's a team mentality because everybody wins when we win. It's a matter of making sure that everyone is taken care of; everybody does their job. So it lends to a more cooperative environment. When the company makes a profit, which we've been making for many years now, at the end of the year, we sit down, and we say, okay, we're going to divvy this up among everyone. Everybody gets an equal share of what the profit is.
I don't need to be a multi-millionaire. But everybody and I always tell everyone here. You know what? This is how I feed my family, but this is how you feed your family. Let's stick together on this. Let's work together. It's led to an incredibly high employee retention level.
Lisa Ryan: What are some specific stories or incidents or somebody who came from another company and got involved with the profit sharing. What things are you doing that they have shared with you? What are the reasons that they stay with you?
Chip Hautala: One of the excellent examples I have is our national sales manager, Heather Pucci. She was working for a recruiting firm. I was looking to hire another salesperson, and she kept saying sending applicants over to us. I was interviewing them, and I said they were missing something. Finally, she came into the office, and she told Chip I'm sick and tired of sending you quality people, and you're rejecting them. What are you looking for? I said I'm looking for you. I'm looking for somebody like you, that's what I'm looking for.
She said, are you offering me a job? I said, yeah, I think I am. She had zero experience in industrial sales, but she was doing industrial recruiting for a long time. She came in, and I said, it's going to be tough because you're going to have to learn all this stuff. You're going to learn everything that we know. If you're willing to do that, you're going to make a hell of a lot more money than you're making in recruiting. She committed to it. She was a salesperson for several years, and now she's our national sales manager. All of our salesmen report to her. That's a success story that we have.
Lisa Ryan: It says something about you, especially in an industry where it's so hard to find people to begin with, with industry experience. What did you look for beyond that in finding somebody who had the personality, had the drive, and was willing to commit to the industry? You were taking a chance on them, and that it worked out well for you.
Chip Hautala: I always say this as long as you don't quit on me, I'll never quit on you. You're never a loser until you quit trying. As long as you keep trying, I will keep working with you. She had a rough first year. I'll be honest with you. She didn't do very well on sales, and I lost money on her the first year, but she kept trying and got better. She evolved to the point where she was one of our top salespeople. She had some management skills, and she became a sales manager.
Everyone responded very well, which is interesting because we're in a male-dominated industry, and she's a female sales manager. It worked out well.
Lisa Ryan: You're sending a message to the rest of your employees, too, when you're not giving up on someone. When companies lose money on a sales rep in the first year, they're gone. But the fact that you continue not to give up on her and allow her to fail forward has paid off. That leads to a level of commitment and loyalty when employees see that you have their back and you're not going to let them go with the first sign of things not going well.
Chip Hautala: Definitely. You learn a lot more in defeat than you learn in victory. As long as a person is learning and going forward and keeps trying, that's a winner. That's somebody that I want to be associated with going forward. That's how we have populated or our company here. I don't call anyone.
Lisa Ryan: Right. Some of the other unique aspects of your business that we've talked about are that you offer more flexible hours and unlimited vacation time. Please tell us a bit about that because we hear all of these things with Netflix and these other companies offering unlimited vacation times. People are curious as to how they do that. Do people take advantage of it? How do you get any work done when you're just out basically allowing your employees to do whatever they want to do so? How has that worked for you?
Chip Hautala: it's worked out well. One of the reasons is that this is your business, whether you're an employee or a business owner. We succeed when everyone succeeds. We do have an unlimited vacation here, but the rule is, you have to have somebody to cover for you. There's never a time when everyone's on vacation when a customer is not served. There's never a time when somebody is on vacation when their emails are not monitored.
It's incumbent upon you. If you want the privilege of unlimited vacation, you are responsible for making sure that everyone's covered. It's worked out excellent. In our society, we tend to value work too much. Compared to European societies, Americans work far more. That's not what life's all about. A gentleman I worked for many years ago told me that nothing that happens inside these walls is as important as what happens outside these walls. I've carried that philosophy forward. Your work needs to be done. You need to hit your numbers, but you also need to have a life outside of here. That's what you're working for.
Lisa Ryan: Right. You have the communication in place that people are responsible for filling their slots to ensure they're covered. But you're also empowering them and treating them like the adult human beings that they are. They can have that work-life flexibility that is so important, especially in these last 19 months, 20 months, however long it's been with COVID. People have changed their priorities. It sounds like you've been doing that all along, and it's helping you keep the people you have.
Chip Hautala: It's funny that you mentioned that, Lisa. The funny part about it was in 2012 when I started MotionSource. I'm an old it guy. I thought that I would set up the system where everything is in the cloud or phone systems in the cloud. Our networks are in the cloud; our business systems are in the cloud. I thought to myself. If we ever have a snow day, everybody could still work from home. Never did I imagine there'd be a pandemic, where we'd be closed for how long.
Last year, during the pandemic, we worked remotely for 15 months. Everybody worked from home. Nobody skipped a beat. There was never a phone call that was missed. Everybody worked a lot harder. They considered it a privilege to be able to work from home. We never laid anybody off. We never had any shut down as far as that goes. It worked a lot better than it was a perfect Union of technology and communication with our employees.
Lisa Ryan: And how are you handling that now? They were working exclusively from home for 15 months. Do they have to come back to the plant? Is there even more flexibility in working versus coming to the office? How is that working out now?
Chip Hautala: We have flexible hours, so some employees have to come in a little bit later during the school year because they're taking their children to school. They come in earlier in the summertime. If you want to take time off, you can take it; it's one way the pandemic helped. It validated our business model of allowing people to work remotely. There's never a time where you have to come into the company. If you want to go into the office, you're welcome to go into the office. If not, you can work from home. You're an adult, so you're responsible for completing everything you need to complete.
Lisa Ryan: Right, and I think they are just empowering your employees, letting them know that you trust them. I can't tell you how many horror stories I hear about companies monitoring people's minutes on the phone; they're tracking people's keystrokes on the computer to make sure that they are not ripping you off by working from home. You've seen it, I've seen it. We've all seen it who trust employees. Given the trust to do the work they need to do on their own, without the distractions at home, the chances are good that they will work even harder for you while they're at home.
Because you've trusted them with that flexibility, they're also going to stay with your company instead of looking for that next company that's going to give them that flexibility that they're looking for.
Chip Hautala: Exactly. One of the best compliments I've ever received, and one of the things that make me smile, is when I've had people tell me, you know, this is the best place I've ever worked. I'm never leaving here. So that means a lot to me.
Lisa Ryan: If you were looking at all the things that you do within MotionSource, what are the things that are working best for you?
Chip Hautala: Communication. Whenever a customer calls in, I've worked for companies, and we still deal with some suppliers, where when a customer calls in for a quote, it takes a week to get back to them. We have a rule here that will get back to you within 20 minutes with a price. People are waiting on that price so that they can place their order. They may be resellers where they need to get back to their customer on that, so that's one of the rules that we have. You have to get back to somebody within 20 minutes with pricing and availability.
Also, we never sell parts. We sell value. There are many times when I empower the employees to do this. It's better to lose the sale unless you have is the perfect solution for it. We work with it, and here's how you want to tweak it to get it to work better, rather than trying to sell them something new. Those people always come back. They know that you have their back. Our job here is to make you as a customer looks like a rock star, whether it's to your customer or whether it's to your boss.
Lisa Ryan: Your 20-minute rule has got to lead to a lot more closed business. When people wait a week for a quote, the first person who receives the quote back is the one who wins the business. So the 20-minute rule, I'm sure that that leads to a lot more sales than letting those quotes fall through the cracks too.
Chip Hautala: The company I used to work for before I came here was in a similar industry, and it was not unusual for it to be a week, a week and a half, two weeks to get back to a customer with a quote. Nobody wants to wait that long. What if you went to the store and wanted to buy a pair of shoes and they said, you want those shoes? Come back next week, and we'll give you a price on those. Would you ever go back there again?
It's the same thing in the industry. It's essential to get back to people. It shows that you care. It shows that you're invested in them, and that's the best way to do business. That's how I would want to be treated, so that's how we treat our customers.
Lisa Ryan: It also prevents a lot of those from falling through the cracks. Oh no, I was supposed to get back to this person, and I never did. By that time, they've already chosen another supplier anyway. From a networking standpoint, if you were to think about something that you would like to learn from other manufacturers or distributors, what would that be? By the same token, what are some of the insights that you would be willing to share if somebody reached out to you?
Chip Hautala: What I would like to learn from other manufacturers and other businesses in your practices as a closing business? What are your practices as far as pricing, things like that? I want to share that the most important thing is communication. Communication is key. It would help if you remained in contact with your customers, team members, and everyone else. If you have excellent communication, you have a great culture, and you have a great business.
Lisa Ryan: You've shared some great ideas with us today. When it comes to MotionSource, who are the type of businesses that you reach out to? What would be good contacts or good connections for you?
Chip Hautala: Anybody in the rubber industry. We're very big in the rubber industry. We have a lot of products for the food processing, food servicing, and packaging industry. We have several customers in the packaging industry, the auto industry, in the steel industry. Anybody in those sectors, we can help. We've also added a couple of line items where we're more of a green business. We offer green solutions for everything, where there's no electricity involved. A lot of our pumps are solar pumps. We can provide you with that. As we advance, there are things to do, so we've jumped into that right away.
Lisa Ryan: Absolutely, and if somebody did want to connect with you, what's the best way for them to do that?
Chip Hautala: I'm on Linkedin. You can find me as Chip Hautala. You can look up MotionSource on LinkedIn. Our website is MotionSource1.com. Everything that we sell there's manual for online. You can give us a call at 888-963-moto or 888-963-6686.
Lisa Ryan: Chip, it has been an absolute pleasure having you on the show today. Thanks so much for joining me.
Chip Hautala: Thank you, Lisa. Thank you for inviting me to be on.
Lisa Ryan: I'm Lisa Ryan, and this is the Manufacturers' Network Podcast. We'll see you next time.