American car companies and A/E firms have one thing in common.  People.  Sure, there are probably a few other things they have in common.  They both build and design objects that shape our lives, but I would argue that it’s the value they place on their employees that brings them together.

I recently visited the Automotive World Congress and North American International Auto Show, and I was struck by how many leaders of the best car companies in the world were talking about taking care of their people.  This may not have always been the case in the automotive industry, but it seems that car companies, like many A/E firms, are making their employees a top priority.

Luckett & Farley is no different, though we like to think we’ve always put our employees first.  We have a philosophy about taking care of our people.  We call it the A/E Employer of Choice continuum.  The idea is that by creating the best office culture and environment, with a rewards structure that encourages improvement, Luckett & Farley will attract the best talent in the industry.  That talent will then attract the best clients, who seek the highest quality work.  Those clients demand the best work, meaning that projects of the highest calibre are delivered.  Those projects have the highest profits, which go back into the company’s reward structure, strengthening the culture and environment that attracted those employees in the first place.  It’s a never-ending circle of reward and achievement that makes Luckett & Farley a thought leader in the industry.

With this in mind, I was happy to hear that American car companies have the same philosophy.  Rodger Penske, CEO of Penske Automotive Group, said attracting and retaining the best people is the automotive group’s biggest asset.  Further, he believes that the best people can be found within the company.  His strategy is to recruit the best and brightest entry level employees, and form them into the strongest employees that rise to the top of the company.  Growing, training and stretching employees, Penske believes, drive the company to its greatest success.

The folks at Dodge share a similar philosophy.  Reid Bigland, President and CEO, Dodge Brand, Head of US Sales for Chrysler, could not hide his passion for the company’s latest products.  His enthusiasm was the result of recruiting the most talented engineers to design the company’s vehicles.  He is certain the brand’s success is based in part on his focus to attract and retain the best employees through the struggling economic times.  As proof, the company showed strong sales gains throughout 2012, and their 4th quarter profit margins for 2012 were up 68 per cent.

General Motors is also singing the praises of its employees.  With a streamlined team of high performers, General Motors has made tremendous progress despite its struggles over the past few years.  To date, they have bought back nearly half of the Federal government’s stake of GM’s shares thanks to its strong balance sheet and sales in 2012.

It seems America’s automotive industry has caught on to the idea that focusing on your employees is the best strategy for success.  Whether the business is making and selling America’s vehicles or providing consulting services to industrial clients like Luckett & Farley, the employees ultimately drive the company’s success.

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