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Glenn Granger

Granger Construction
February 16, 2017

Glenn Granger

President and CEO of Granger Construction, specializing in higher ed, commercial, industrial, K-12, healthcare and public sector/corrections construction. In our conversation today, we talk about wakeboarding, Harvard MBAs, building for Zaha Hadid, and strategies for developing executives.

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Glenn: My boat has those things on the side of the shapers for the wake. Puts up a really nice wake surfing wake which the fishermen really love.

Eric: Yes, exactly, I know. That was one thing, our lake, we never really had great relationships between the skiers and the fisherman. So we never got into fishing because there was...
Glenn: That's my story exactly. I've never been much of a fisherman and partly because I was pissed off at him because they're sitting in the calm water just blocking the [inaudible
00:00:32].
Matt: Yeah, you would think fish just love calm water because that's where the fishermen always end up. We watched a couple different resources on your company. You have a couple YouTube videos out, highlights the family business nature which is interesting to us because that's the type of situation we're in here. What was is it like for you growing up in a family business as you were in middle school, high school looking at going to college? How did the family business frame your decisions about schooling/experiences and all that?
Glenn: Good question. As you said, we grew up in a family business. Our business was founded in 1959 which is just the year before I was born. So I grew up with pretty prominent around the dinner table a lot of conversation about construction. I'm the fourth child in our family, third son, and as it turns out the sons were probably more encouraged I guess, to be part of, kind of a chauvinistic way, of looking at things. But initially, when I went off to school, although I went initially for a civil engineering degree at Michigan Tech, it didn't work out. I didn't stay at Michigan Tech for a lot of reasons. I went and finished at Alma College, and ended up doing of a physics degree and a math minor. And I primarily went to Alma because I could play football there. Kind of a smaller school and the environment that was a little bit step beyond high school in terms of size. As I got the degree I really wasn't focused on
being in the family business. All my summer jobs were in the family business. My family was fortunate enough when they were working out at Michigan State in the early '60s, I think in 1966 they actually bought a dump truck from Michigan State so they could take care of their waste removal.
I'm the fourth child in our family, third son, and as it turns out the sons were probably more encouraged I guess, to be part of, kind of a chauvinistic way, of looking at things. But initially, when I went off to school, although I went initially for a civil engineering degree at Michigan Tech, it didn't work out. I didn't stay at Michigan Tech for a lot of reasons. I went and finished at Alma College, and ended up doing of a physics degree and a math minor. And I primarily went to Alma because I could play football there. Kind of a smaller school and the environment that was a little bit step beyond high school in terms of size.
As I got the degree I really wasn't focused on being in the family business. All my summer jobs were in the family business. My family was fortunate enough when they were working out at Michigan State in the early '60s, I think in 1966 they actually bought a dump truck from Michigan State so they could take care of their waste removal.
Eric: Yeah, I saw that in the history video. That was interesting.
Glenn: Isn't that interesting? And so that business evolved into being a major operator of landfills in our community here. And so our family kind of, at the time that my dad, my dad is the oldest of three brothers and they kind of had an enterprise where they were doing construction which was their bread and butter. But they also expanded and the landfill business became a very prominent piece of the family portfolio if you will.
But in 1990, the construction company went on its own footing and my dad became sole owner of the construction company. And his brothers continued to operate with my cousins, they operate the landfill business and we're related by blood, but not in business together anymore.
About college, I really didn't think I was gonna be part of the construction business when I left for college. I ended up, after I was done at Alma, ended up taking a position with Raytheon that was co-sponsored by the Air Force and it taught microwave engineering. So it was a double electrical engineering program at University of Utah.
Following that period of time, I went to school for two years for that and then ended up working for Raytheon for another couple years, before I realized that I wasn't a design and development engineer. That wasn't gonna be my future. I probably looked at the fact that I would have to be 30 before I could run the place or something like that, when your expectations are when you're a kid.
So I ended up at that time making a little bit of a career change vocationally. I applied to Harvard Business School. I went to business school for two years. Following that two years, I worked for Raytheon for just one year and I was working in Colorado Springs, Colorado, beautiful country, it's an amazing place to live and raise a family. However, I got homesick, so I decided that...my wife and I at the time decided to move back to Lansing and take part in the family business at that time.
Matt: So you went to business school thinking that you were gonna just stay in a big company, kind of continue to climb ladders at big companies? But it was really something else that kind of led you back to the family business.
Glenn: Yeah, it's mostly just being homesick, and at the time we had been married about eight years at the time, my wife, and we just felt kind of that draw to be around family. Most of my family, extended family, is all from Michigan, just got homesick. And I enjoy the building business. What's not to love? It's amazing to get to see the kinds of things that we get to build, and places we get to be involved in.
But I really wasn't sure I wanted to be in competition with my siblings in business at that time. My older brother was involved and actually, both my older brothers were both involved, and I just didn't know that I wanted to get into that fray. Since then it turns out that my older brother who was the CEO at the time he...there's somewhat of a falling out and he went his way and he's currently a developer in the west side of Michigan. He does very well, but he's not in our family business anymore.
And I assumed the role of President somewhere around the year 2000, continued to grow along, and so it's mainly my dad and I that are running my business. I have another brother that serves as a superintendent, but is not involved in the ownership at this time.
Matt: Going back to the conversation about the dinner table, I always say, you almost couldn't overstate how important that is to like development as a young man. You sit around and listen to business talk while you're going to school, and it just kind of informs a whole bunch of the ways you're looking at classes, the ways of viewing the world. And it's all kind of through that lens and filter, we used to sit back and we talk about stories. We heard my dad talking about family business around the table.
Glenn: Yeah, I wish I'd paid more attention. But it's kind of in between what's happening on your little league team versus what dad...what's going through his head. As I was growing up he was really building a major enterprise. He was pretty much a kind of a kingpin in our own community. He didn't live that way and by way. I'm speaking in past tense. My dad is still alive and kicking. He's doing very well.
And in fact, he's in the office today. He's 84 years old and he comes in two and three days a week and kind of keeps tabs on things. Still, has a very strong presence with the company. But you're right, around the dinner table and around just casual conversations, the business really doesn't really leave the picture when you go home.
Eric: One question I had is about your MBA. So when I saw that you had had your MBA but were in a family business, it makes a little bit more sense now hearing your history, but if you knew you were going into your family business would you still go get your MBA?
Glenn: Absolutely, yeah. And so if you can imagine, I had eight years of fairly technical, although Alma's College is a really fine liberal arts school, and I had plenty of good classes that weren't in engineering related fields. I was a physics major and math minor.
And then at University of Utah, it was just a master's program in engineering. So I could pretty much solve problems, but I really didn't have the practical and good communication skills that I think I've been able to develop over the years. And Harvard was a real good place for me to be challenged in that area. Their curriculum is all based on cases and you always have to communicate. Half of the grade and mostly classes is related to your ability to speak up and give your point of view
Matt: So value of an MBA is part the actual content of the lessons and what you're doing. Part is networking. Has the networking values of getting your MBA, have that served you well in your career or mostly just the content?
Glenn: The networking is served in terms of the richness of my life, I mean in terms of the relationships that I continue to keep. And at Harvard, they have five-year reunions and I've been a part of all of those since I left. And I completed my MBA in 1989.
It hasn't really secured any business from that point of view, I haven't done any deals with my section mates. But the friendships have made a big difference. I think the other is the content and the curriculum and seeing things.
I think it took me a long time to realize that there's not a perfect answer, and when you're grappling with problems like putting on a marketing plan or deciding to extend your product line or putting together some type of personnel policy or whatever the case may be. You find that you're making your decision on partial information.
In fact, if you think about it, most important and significant decisions in our lives are made with imperfect information. And if we ever have perfect information to make our decisions usually by the time we've gotten there, it's way too late for the thing to have an impact anyway. That lesson was probably one of the more important things that I found. Being able to look deeply into different issues from multiple points of view and I had a pretty diverse class when I was there, so it was all beneficial.
Matt: Do you have professors that were a favorite professor or one of those legendary Harvard profs and characters?
Glenn: I had a couple yeah. One of my section professors was Dr. Michael Porter, and he's kind of been thought of as the guru of strategy and there's others there. It's amazing what Harvard does when they put on a reunion. You go back, and if you can imagine in 1989 there was no such thing as an Internet. So then you go back and you'd find out that some of your section mates are billionaires because they invested in this crazy thing that we didn't even understand at the time or didn't know what to...so mostly just the ways of thinking that have been important to me over the years.
Eric: We've seen that you guys sent a lot of your guys to that Carnegie training, so obviously you put an emphasis on education. Talk to us about that a little bit.
Glenn: Well, we're very proud to...as a company we put a lot into training and we're part of an association called the Association of General Contractors. And in our region, we're quite often cited as the best in terms of continuous learning, kind of an award winner in that area. Dale Carnegie training is really important just because a lot of what happens in construction people get thrust into situations where they're forced to communicate.
When we market ourselves for another project, typically we're doing a presentation, and typically that presentation isn't me or some other bigwig trying to sell to a customer. Typically it's a presentation with project managers, project engineers, superintendents. Dale Carnegie teaches you how to be comfortable communicating from your heart and communicating in short memorable ways. It just teaches a lot about leadership. It's a really important program.
So we've actually hosted three different sessions over the last probably eight years, and we do it when we have a critical number. A good class for Dale Carnegie's got about 20 to 25 people in it. So we can't do it every year. We just don't add that many people that often. But when we have a group of people that can participate in it. And Dale Carnegie is one of those programs where you work together and you learn more about your coworkers than you ever imagined possible, and you learn about some of the struggles they've had. And it's a real great bonding experience for them, and it's a great way for them to develop their speaking skills.
Matt: You mentioned earlier about feeling confident in your speaking skills, your communication skills earlier in your career, and then developing that later on. Do you have a good example of where you just walked out of a room, and you thought, "I got to get better at public speaking or I got to get better at..." Do you have a good story for us that would sell because you're doing a great job right now.
Glenn: That's funny. When I first came back to this company and my brother was the CEO at the time, or president anyway, I don't remember which. I was an estimator which is a great way to learn the business. Estimating causes you to sort of build the job in your head and on paper and take quotes and so forth...
Matt: That's how we taught all our estimators too.
Glenn: It's a great way to start.
Matt: It's a great way to learn a business.
Glenn: It's a wonderful way to learn a business, short of being in the field and actually doing the building, you're getting the chance to build the project as you're putting together the proposal in kind of a virtual way. We estimated this project and it was probably a smallish job I'm sure, and they called us in for the presentation. And I had not gone to a presentation of that form before and I just remember the blank look I had as this owner. I think it was at the University of Michigan. So it was kind of a big powerhouse owner that looked at me and said, "Well how do you plan to stage this project?" And I'm like, "I don't know. I'm just the estimator." Needless to say, we didn't end up getting the job.
I thought well, I've got to really hone in and it really wasn't just simply the amount of training on speaking, it was also having the confidence to be able to come forward with good ideas. And realize that most people if you're collaborative in your presentation and you kind of...I almost call it permission based communication. If I just start rattling a bunch of BS at you right now and I don't stop for a pause, you're like, this has been a good conversation. Talk to you later, Glenn.
Matt: Yeah, right.
Glenn: And you're just ready to get off the horn, right? But if you say, "Hey, let me just spend a couple minutes if you don't mind and share with you my thoughts on it, but they may not be complete. But they're the best ideas I have right now." People are usually pretty patient with you and helpful, right?
Eric: Right. Keeping the conversation going with customers is oftentimes a big deal. We do we do pieces of business to keep relationships open so that we sit down at the table and have the ability to go back and forth and learn a little bit more as you're communicating with them over projects and business.
Glenn: Exactly, right, yeah. It's usually not a matter of accuracy all the time. You've certainly got to have your technical wherewithal, but it's also understanding human nature, and also keeping the flow and those kind of things that I think come with experience.
Eric: When you walk out of that situation and you say, all right, I need to get better at this. What did you do to go about getting better at it? Do you look for courses to take or how did you go about putting yourself in situations where it's gonna stretch you and you know you're gonna get better?
Glenn: Well, for that particular example it was just a matter of learning really. And at the time, my brother is very charismatic and has a really deep vision of where things wanna go. And I think he shared some ideas to help me just to understand more of what was being asked and what was being expected. And I think more so just learning about the process and kind of by repetition rather than shy away and say, "Well, I'm not gonna go to the next presentation because I messed up on this one." It was seeking out the opportunities to be a part of the presentation, to learn from others even if it's a, "Hey, can I drag along. I don't need to have a key part in this particular presentation, but maybe if I can just listen and observe." Always looking towards people that get it right is the way to learn, I think, in that area. Occasionally there's been classes that are helpful.
The best advice is sort of be yourself and be in a conversation with the people. And to ask questions. A lot of times when we're in a situation, and you know this from a sales point of view, if you can get the customer to do the talking you don't have to present as much. What are your needs? What do you plan? What makes you successful? How long have you been in this job? Where did you get your degree, on and on. And eventually, you find that rather than trying to come up with some kind of canned pitch, you're just filling in the blanks a little bit with how your relationship is gonna help better their chances of success.
Eric: Well, yeah, and I think a key word there you used is relationship. You build a relationship when you do that, as opposed to, you don't build a relationship with the sales person who comes in and just gives you a pitch and walks out the door.
Glenn: Right. No, I've never been really good with that pitch. Preparation is really key, but at the same time, you can almost over prepare. So I tend to leave a little bit of room for it being a conversation rather than, here's my two-minute pitch.
Matt: Along those lines, what are your current efforts about business development? Do you guys try to grow within existing customers, with the networks that you're strong in that you know you can do a good job? Do you try to just outbid new business? What's kind of the process there?
Glenn: Part of our work is still delivered with a general contract type format which we call hard money, hard bid. In that part of our business which is maybe 25% of what we do, it's a matter of making sure that the owners know you're available to bid, and looking at bid lists. And then becoming the lowest qualified bidder through your relationships with the subs, through getting competitive pricing and so forth.
More and more of our business is negotiated either design build or construction management or construction management at risk which are all different types of delivery. And in those relationships, it's about being aware of what's the owner's needs are far before they have a project to deliver.   We do mostly larger institutional work with healthcare and with automotive and with schools and universities and some commercial. And you just can't kinda show up when they have something to offer. You wanna be there far before so that you can develop that relationship. And then when it's time for the project you're walking in and you're saying, "Hi, Joe. It's nice to see again." And your presentation is much better received.
Eric: It seems like you have a pretty good relationship with Michigan State and they seem to be a big customer of yours. Talk to us a little bit about how you manage that relationship. I find it's always a balancing act between the relationship of customer versus client versus friend in some cases with the people.
Glenn: We try to run the gamut there, and it's not just a person to person necessarily. We try to knit it or zipper it together with multiple people. So with Michigan State, for example, we're in Lansing so we're familiar, we go to the same sporting events and we see them at the same kind of fundraisers, and in multiple different settings. And we also then just make a point of being in contact with people trying to serve their needs in however we can. We like to do that with ways in which we're adding value whenever we can, rather than sitting down with somebody saying, "Okay, what do you got coming up for a bid?" That information is pretty easy to find out, but it's more or less what are your needs, what do you see upcoming, what are your pain points, how can we help you be more effective in the job that you're doing. And so that's true of Michigan state or the University of Michigan, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Sparrow Hospital. These customers that have been long term relationships we're not just showing up Johnny come lately on a project basis.
Matt: One of the company values that the video highlighted was that you guys try to treat people right. They kept using the phrase treating people right. And had the one example of building a church and coming in under budget and then giving some money back to the church. Do you have an updated example, of how you feel you try to treat people in the right way?
Glenn: We don't wanna leave any customer hanging, and we have a project, I can think of just a few years back that had some failures in the wall system that created some water penetration issues. Unfortunately, the architects sort of disappeared from the process and we basically went back and just repaired it. It cost about a quarter million dollars so it wasn't anything cheap. That's an example. I think as it relates to some of the charitable work, there's an orphanage in town in town here called St Vincent Social Services. A buddy of mine was really distraught with how ugly and rickety their gymnasium was. And he came to me and between the two of us, we garnered some support and we ended up building them a new gymnasium. That was a $250,000 project, not all of which was donated by Granger, but a good portion of it we donated the work part that we performed in the project.
The saying that you're referring to is the Golden Rule, treat others like you'd like to be treated. My dad has been consistently...he's a strong Christian man, just been a backbone of our company. We are not afraid to pray together as a company when we have concerns. And that idea of treat people like they'd like to be treated really comes down to...as you're in the business and you have a bidder that may or may not have been low and they wanna argue their way, or they wanna entice you, or they wanna do whatever. We wanna treat people the way we wanna be treated.   If we were the low bidder would we want somebody else to be able to jeopardize their relationship if we were bidding in a fair marketplace. Those values are important.
Matt: Yeah, definitely. So we have a topic and then we pretty much ask you overrated, underrated, we'll say the topic and then you try to answer it and then maybe like a one line of why you think so, right?
Glenn: Okay.
Eric: Overrated or underrated, smooth water for skiing?
Glenn: That's way underrated. No, smooth water is beautiful. I was just gonna say there's not nearly enough smooth water days that are warm enough to go skiing. The best water days, unfortunately, are in April and October when it's freezing out.
Eric: Yeah, that's it because nobody else is willing to get out on the water.
Glenn: Nobody's out there.
Matt: So then follow up overrated or underrated, a wetsuit?
Glenn: It can be underrated especially in the springtime of skiing, where you're trying to get early, those first few sets.
Matt: So you get a full one? You go full sleeved to ankle?
Glenn: It can be underrated especially in the springtime of skiing, where you're trying to get early, those first few sets.
Matt: So you get a full one? You go full sleeved to ankle?
Glenn: I don't much anymore. I'm not as bullish as I used to be. But yeah, I had a dry suit actually.
Matt: Yeah, we had one of those, northern Wisconsin, northern Michigan you have to have a dry suit. Overrated or underrated, Tom Izzo.
Glenn: He's just there with pretty near everything, whether it's raising money for some of the local charities, he'll open up his home for Cristo Rey which is a Hispanic Community Service Center here and he's just always there. He's just an easy guy. What you see is what you get. If you've seen him on TV or his interviews, he's just the easiest guy to know and talk to. But yet he's committed. The mythology about him shooting 100 free throws at every practice, I don't you know if you knew that?
Matt: Yeah.
Glenn: He does that and he usually makes...I asked him once. I said, "What's your percentage?" And I said, "Is it 95?" He said, "It's probably north of that."
Eric: That's impressive.
Glenn: He doesn't miss much.
Matt: Okay, here's another one. Overrated or underrated, building a building designed by Zaha Hadid?
Glenn: That would be overrated. That was a tough, tough building. The building that we were part of was done on campus at Michigan State. It was the Eli Broad Museum featured in "Superman vs. Batman," by the way. It was the Lex Luther's home I think in the movie. But it's a wild, wild looking building. The trouble with the process with Zaha, she was really there. And we simply did the concrete work for that building, and we couldn't find an example of the quality of concrete that she was demanding. And what we did was extraordinary. You'll never see concrete that was done in any more of a finished beautiful fashion than that. But yet I'm sure...I don't know if she ever approved it.
Matt: Is that right?
Glenn: I don't think she ever approved it, I think it was just sort of...so you never knew whether you met the mark or not.
Matt: All the pictures of that building are beautiful and everything I read talked about the angles and how difficult of an architectural challenge that was, an engineering challenge or...is that something where you look at...you're bidding the project and you're like, well, I kind of guess we'll figure it out. Or did you have reasonable certainty that you could pull off the project to a good standard?
Glenn: We took a loss on that project. We didn't plan when we estimated to take a loss. I guess that goes without saying, right? The reason we got into trouble, we had to replace two of the walls. It's sort of a magical formula when you're building. It's called self consolidated concrete, and the concrete itself, it's like a milk shake consistency, very, very thin. And it's almost so thin that the aggregates would sink to the bottom. It's just thick enough so that the stone stays where it's supposed to. And you can't vibrate it. So you kind of put this concrete in place when you pour it and the next day you strip the forms, and you just say a prayer. So there were two walls that had some problems and we had to take them out and redo them. But we're proud of the work.
Soon after, they had a new director to the museum and he came to me and said, "Well, are you really make a donation?" I said, "I think I already have."
Matt: Or the next person says, "Hey, I want you to do that for my building."
Glenn: There was actually a person that came to town that had a building...and they built in Birmingham area. It's a really odd looking building, concrete home it's a home that they wanted. We put our estimate together but I think by that time we were too knowledgeable. You know how it is when you know too much and you can't be low.
Matt: We've had a couple of those experiences. Sales says, "Yeah, we can do that," and then we do it and then like we're like, we're never doing that again.
Glenn: We're never doing that again. Or if we do, we know how to price it, and then just by virtue of where your price is. You're not gonna end up with it again.
Eric: You try and convince your customer that our competitor doesn't really know what they're talking about.
Glenn: Right, that's never a good position to be in.
Eric: No. Overrated or underrated, Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Glenn: Well, if you're from Michigan, it's an underrated place to see. It's a gorgeous place to go. I haven't been there for many years, but man, it's beautiful.
Matt: Do you guys mostly go to the lake or do you ever make your way to Lake Michigan or...?
Glenn: One of the things that my grandfather did that was really kind of cool was he bought some property at Gun Lake like in the '30s or something. And Gun Lake is about 60 miles west of where I live. So I can get there in just over an hour, so we spend most of our time right at the lake.
Matt: Most weekends you go Friday to Sunday type?
Glenn: In fact, in the summertime...I'm not there now of course, but in the summertime, we can live there and I can commute during the week.
Eric: That's fantastic. That's a nice thing about Lansing is that you're an hour away from relative secluded lake. In Chicago, to get a private lake, we're four hours, five hours and the further you go the less crowded it gets. So you're kind of tempted to continue to go further.
Glenn: No, that was a really strategic move. Most people in Michigan though they talk about going up north, Traverse City, Petoskey area, those areas which is that three and a half to four-hour drive. And we've...I guess my grandfather was smart enough to pick this lake that was just an hour away. And my family grew up there and so we ended up getting our place up several years ago.
Matt: Kind of moving on to along the same lines as the Dale Carnegie self-improvement activities, do you have workout regimens or diet regimes, or anything that you think like this is part of my performance as an executive feeling certain way. And what are your preferred methods of those?
Glenn: I workout with a trainer three days a week, and I've been with the trainer for five or six years. I normally didn't have a trainer, but I was finding myself a little bit flat-lining in terms of my regime. So that's important to me is to get up in the morning and have those workouts, and I do it with a friend of mine. That's a great way to get the day started. I tend to try to eat balanced nutrition wise. I'm kind of somewhat of a health fanatic. I'm not running marathons every day or anything like that, but try to keep in shape.
Matt: So with a trainer, pumping iron, that type of thing?
Glenn: Mostly pumping iron, because I don't need a trainer to show me how to run on a treadmill. I can do that by myself.
Matt: That's a good point.
Glenn: I do my cardio kind of on my own and then I see him when it comes to lifting weights. And one of the cool things we did here, I hired the trainer for two different sessions during the week and he works out with our team here. They've become quite competitive.
Matt: So you've got a gym at the office?
Glenn: We have a gym that's just not too far from the office. So we started...we do have one in the office but it was kind of small and it didn't have all the equipment. So instead the guys go down twice a week to meet with the trainer during the noon hour. And the women do it about, I don't know, 5:00 in the afternoon. They do it twice a week. They do it with a woman trainer. Women have a harder time, of course, doing it during the lunch time because they got to get back out ready for work and stuff. And guys can just take a quick shower and away they go.
Matt: Yeah, right. That's why Eric works on the afternoon too. I'm fine that way. Eric is afternoon.
Glenn: There you go, Eric, that was a body goal right there.
Matt: That's all right.
Eric: We're used to it.
Eric: I read an article a couple weeks ago that one of the new trends for, I think it was more Silicon Valley companies, is a lot of CEOs are starting to conduct interviews with potential candidates during workouts. So they'll actually take their potential candidates on a run or on a bike or to a yoga class, and kind of conduct a more casual informal interview during a workout.
Glenn: Sounds a little uppity to me.
Matt: Yeah, a bit uppity. Being tired probably like lowers your inhibitions and you get to see the real personal a bit more. Like a little ornery, a little bit tired.
Glenn: It's like if you wanna learn about somebody take them golfing.
Eric: Yeah, that's the other great one that...let's just maybe a few more personal questions. What's your favorite book that you've ever read?
Glenn: Well, my faith tells me I should tell you it's the Bible. I do like the Bible. So it's probably...
Eric: That's a good one.
Glenn: The most comprehensive book. My favorite book...gosh. I read all the time. I don't know. We did a book study that had a lot of impact for us here at the company and it was called "This is Lean," It was about how lean can make a difference in delivery of almost any service or product. And that has been a life changing or company changing transformational study that has taken root. And we're much more engaged in lean construction principles now. That'd be a business book that has been really helpful.
I read everything from John Grisham. I just finished his newest book "Communal Island" that just came out. I read everything from Lee Child. He's the one that writes about Jack Reacher. I read Baldacci and novels. A lot of historical fiction. I'd hate to say I have a favorite book. I don't know. They're all good.
Matt: Sound well read.
Eric: Yeah, that's fair.
Matt: First website you check in the morning?
Glenn: Usually I had this little link on my iPhone, it has news, smart news or something it's called. I usually just check and see what's going on.
Matt: Browse the headlines.
Glenn: Browse the headlines a little bit, and it has a mix of business and entertainment news. In town the Crane's organization that published in Detroit has really good headlines about what's happening in our community in our region.
Matt: And that's right up your alley, construction news stuff.
Glenn: Some of it is construction news, some of it's a new CEO and I'm sure when Mark Fields was let go they had an article about him. And they're just up to date on what's happening.
Eric: Do you do like executive leadership group meeting type?
Glenn: I do.
Eric: Like Visage or anything like that?
Glenn: You're talking about on the Internet?
Eric: Well, no just a leadership group where you meet together with other executives and talk about business.
Glenn: I do. I have I have a few different groups that I'm involved with. Years ago I was involved with the Young Presidents Organization in Detroit, and that continues to be a strong network, although I'm not in that group. I have a forum that had started as a part of that, and I meet with those people four times a year and we typically do a trip once a year. This year we're going to Savannah as a group just to get some time to recreate and so forth. I have another group of construction industry people and there's a member that comes from Chicagoland, there's a member that comes from Austin, Texas, there's a member that comes from Washington DC, there's one from Connecticut, there's one from Ohio. And we get together and we can compare notes about a company, we typically don't compete with each other. So we're pretty open about sharing best practices.
And then I have a group that's kind of faith based and it involves my cousin who is the CEO of the landfill business, the Granger Group and the other guy that runs a medical products company called Centurion which does very well. And the other guy is with Two Men and a Truck. And we meet together. We call ourselves Ironman because steel sharpens steel. And we work together, to share. We're all in family businesses, all have similar concerns, and all have a similar faith in Christ that it's important to us. And so we build with each other.
Eric: So with those groups what do you really look to take away from those groups? Because were approached by those types of groups all the time, and would you strongly recommend those? Is it kind of recommended? Where does that fall in the spectrum for you?
Glenn: For me, it's been vitally important. We just recently started a board of advisors here at Granger with the idea of having something that's a little bit more supportive and getting ideas from the outside and that kind of thing. Sort of bringing in thoughts that can help us grow our business. Prior to that, I didn't have that resource and if you have the right group of people, similar people, and similar parts in their career you can learn a lot. And different groups are focused...with my group that I've been involved with the longest, we have an agenda that talks about family, personal, and business. Probably most heavily on business but I've had a lot of good guidance to come on the other categories as well from friends that become supportive and you get to know one another. So I think it's really important.
Matt: There are certain types of things that people who run companies can tell each other that oftentimes other people can't really say, or at least it's received differently when it comes from somebody else who also runs a company.
Glenn: Right. Everybody struggles with the same things. Everybody has that vice president of marketing that's kind of a difficult person to work with, or what have you.
Matt: John.
Glenn: Yeah. We should spell them out by name, right? But there's always those relationships that are difficult, and it's nice to have a sounding board. Sometimes it's just the therapy of being able to talk through your problems in important ways. And you can't really share some of those things with your cohorts at work otherwise they'd be scared and they'd say, "What's wrong with this guy?"
Matt: You got a favorite restaurant?
Glenn: Favorite restaurant. I don't like I like seafood around here, and we only have really chain restaurants in Lansing. We're not really the hotbed that you have over there in Chicago. Mitchell's Fish Market, I like to go there I guess that's it. I go to Leaf a lot, Leaf is a salad bar place.
Matt: Eating healthy, that's right.
Glenn: Yeah, try to have salad during lunch time because otherwise, I'd be 300 pounds.
Matt: Do you do you make it into Chicago often at all?
Glenn: Yeah, I do every so often. I've got to stop by for a visit.
Matt: Yeah, well you're welcome to come out and visit us for sure, or we meet you downtown and show you around the culinary arts there.
Glenn: Oh my gosh, yeah. The name of the company that I affiliate with that's in my group is called Wight Company, W-I-G-H-T. I don't know if you ran into them before?
Matt: Yeah, we're familiar with them.
Glenn: But the guy, Mark Wight, is super good friends. Really great guy and I learn a lot from him as far as comparing notes business wise.
Matt: Do you have a favorite quote, inspirational quote that you have taped to your desk or something?
Glenn: Mostly Bible verses I guess, I have one that's right in front of me. It says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." As far as quotes, sports related or otherwise, I'm kind of a flavor of the month kind of a person.
Matt: It was really great to talk to you, thanks for coming on the show.
Glenn: Thanks, guys.
Eric: All right, thanks a lot, Glenn.