LEDA/Opportunity Machine

The 101 on GSD

by Zachary Barker

A Lafayette-based, veteran-owned consulting company is the epitome of ‘getting stuff done.’

I have a deep passion for personal motivation and clear execution. There are few things more exciting than having a plan, coupled with the proper enthusiasm and seeing an idea turn into a successful reality. Thus, “Getting Stuff Done” (aka GSD) is one of the core values of the Opportunity Machine.

In December 2013, Shane Istre, Jason Perkins and Karl Crow — CEO, president and vice president, respectively, of KHEIRON LLC — approached the Opportunity Machine with an idea to deliver excellent safety training to the energy industry, with a focus on best practices, leveraging technology and utilizing a background in military service as a strategic advantage.

Not only did these KHEIRON officials become a member of the Opportunity Machine, they also successfully graduated from the OM program, ahead of schedule, and recently relocated from the OM to private office space in Lafayette. They’ve grown from three employees to seven fulltime employees with two contractors and three interns. As the company continues to grow revenue through strategic decisions, we will be hearing much more from these military veterans and their team.

Recently, I had an opportunity to chat with Karl Crow and to ask him about the business, challenges, successes and next steps.

Give us a little background on the company.

KHEIRON is a Quality, Health, Safety and Environmental Systems development and implementation company with a focus on delivering superior services based on industry best practices. We built our business on service and continual improvement. We started out serving customers in the energy and construction industries with standards and regulatory compliance and have since expanded to maritime, human resource and health care consulting. We are extremely excited to bring our services to these new markets.

Safety consulting is a competitive environment, so how do you differentiate yourself?

Being a 100 percent veteran-owned company with strategic, operational and tactical planning experience is a tremendous asset. We have the ability to quickly adapt to change, conduct long-term planning and make difficult decisions based on our analysis of past and future events. We become part of our customers’ management staff and help them complete the tasks necessary to have a robust safety and quality program so that they can focus on production. We started our company because we noticed a lack of consistent support for small companies in QHSE. For companies to start up and to innovate, they need a team of professionals to augment their management staff until they are large enough for full-time personnel. Program development and implementation are our business.

Goal-setting is an important part of measuring success. Tell us about a time you fell short of a goal and how you use the lessons learned to better your business today.

We fell short of a few goals in 2014. We attributed not meeting our goals in 2014 to focus — not a lack of focus, but rather not focusing our efforts to build our core business. We were aggressive and jumped at every opportunity. We targeted potential clients based on the industry needs rather than identifying gaps and needs of the companies in the area. By focusing our efforts, we reduced our target group, therefore increasing the number of new clients we added each month.

What is the one resource you feel all entrepreneurs should have access to?

I believe the greatest resource an entrepreneur can have is a mentor. Every entrepreneur, with or without a degree in business, brings something of value to the table when they start a business. Each person is different. He or she may have strengths in some areas of running a business and weaknesses in others. I am not being biased, but Opportunity Machine is a great resource and mentor. This is something all new entrepreneurs should take advantage of. The OM can help a new entrepreneur grow in day-today operational aspects like networking, marketing, accounting, legal, payroll and daily administration duties.

As a fast-growing company, what habits does your team “live by” to help assure you stay focused or productive in all your key areas?

We focus on continual improvement and communication with our clients. If we have an issue in one area with one client, we assume it could be a problem area for all clients. We get together as a team and discuss the issue, find a corrective action and carry out the new procedure to make sure we are continuing to exceed the client’s expectations.

What would you define as your core values and why those values in particular?

We are a very team-oriented company that does NOT micromanage our team. Our core values are:

• Customer satisfaction - We treat every client as a team member.

• Accountability - We expect all members of our team to work as if they owned the company. .

• Integrity - We will be honest, forthright and truthful, and always do the right thing when facing difficult business decisions.

If you could talk to yourself 15 years ago, and suggest focusing on one aspect of your education — what area of study would you focus on knowing what you know now?

I would focus on business administration, particularly pursuing an MBA. With more than 20 years military experience and being self-employed for more than six years, I have gained valuable experience in decision making, but having an MBA could assist tremendously in managing a new business.

What was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?

The best decision we made was reducing the multi-layer management model. We’ve surrounded ourselves with a team of highly motivated individuals who understand the importance of teamwork, dedication and willingness to go the extra mile. This reduces the need to supervise; everyone is a manager and understands that if one is successful everyone will be successful.

Zachary Barker is executive director of the Opportunity Machine, a LEDA-backed initiative that focuses on cultivating Lafayette’s entrepreneurial and technology-based industries. Barker is also president and owner of Acadiana Sports Leagues and active in the705, a local young leaders group. Contact him at [email protected]