Springfield Business Journal: What has been key to your recent growth?
Travis Lathrop: It’s a continued focus on people and productivity. We focus on continued customer service – serving our agents and their clients and then focusing on the things we can control and our people. As long as we keep the focus on growing our people, the business will grow.
SBJ: What is a top issue you consider when it comes to managing growth?
Lathrop: Well, I think we just addressed the first one this year with a new building we’re moving into, and that is size. If you look at our agent count in the last five years versus where we are now, we’ve massively outgrown our footprint for our real estate, so we are remodeling and moving into a brand new, beautiful building down off Independence. We’re super excited to be moving there in the next (month). That’s going to allow for more growth for us because we’re really capped off on office space right now.
SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable?
Lathrop: As long as we continue to change and improve our models and systems, absolutely. What limits your growth is your models and systems, and as long as you continue to remove the roadblocks to growth, everything can grow. What got you here won’t get you there. We have to continue to pivot and improve, and if we do those things, absolutely, we’ll continue to grow. Our market share in Springfield is impressive, but there’s a whole lot more to be had.
SBJ: Is there such a thing as growing too fast?
Lathrop: I think as long as you continue to take care of the fundamentals of business, then you can continue to grow extremely fast and be profitable. I think one reason most businesses don’t succeed is they outrun their systems and they outrun their financials. We’re talking about people, and people are hugely important. But if you run out of cash or you don’t have the right systems to allow customer service to still be excellent, then you can run into things.
SBJ: What is the tipping point?
Lathrop: You’ve got to keep your culture intact. I think companies that outgrow their culture are the ones that are always susceptible to stagnation and in simple terms, trouble. If you study great companies, like Google and Amazon, you see that a lot of those companies get into trouble when they lose that culture that got them to that growth. So, that’s something we’re focused on and are very committed to consistently. Quite frankly, I feel like we have to be the ambassadors of that.
SBJ: What is the worst business advice you’ve received?
Lathrop: Probably that it’s all about people. I am a person who says that people are the most valuable and the most important thing in every business, and yet, it’s not just about people. If you have great people and you have a poor product, customer service, training or cash flow, great people can’t fix it all. You always have to review your models, systems, product offering and financials. If those things are in check and you have great people, you’ll have great business success.
Ariake Sushi and Robata opened; Great Southern Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: GSBC) opened its newest branch in Springfield; and a longtime employee with City Utilities of Springfield went into business for himself with the launch of Van Every Drafting & Design LLC.