Springfield Business Journal: What has been key to your recent growth?
Russell Hinds: A lot of it was the growth through an acquisition. We purchased a competitor of ours, Brittney Inc., that was actually about three times the size of our company.
SBJ: What has the company’s growth enabled you to do?
Hinds: The biggest thing is to provide more services as far as the types of training for safety that we do. We now offer online training, little bit better communication systems, things of that nature. It’s allowed us to travel a wider and broader area. That’s why we changed our name in January of 2019 from Southwest Missouri Safety Co. to Mid-America Safety & Environmental. It’s also allowed us to do some environmental consulting. It’s not a big piece of our business, but it’s something we’ve been asked by a lot of our current clients to do.
SBJ: Is there such a thing as growing too fast?
Hinds: If you don’t have a game plan and you don’t have the capabilities to manage it, yes, you can grow too fast. I’m pretty confident of our systems on what we do that we can manage growth. Probably the most difficult thing is to identify additional employees. In our industry, it’s hard to find folks of a certain experience level or education level to do what we do. It’s not an industry that people just come out of high school and go into whatever you want to go into. Fortunately, we have Missouri Southern [State University] and University of Central Missouri that have occupational safety and health programs. There’s potential to pull from those individuals.
SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth?
Hinds: Probably the biggest issue is staying on top of it to make sure you’re providing adequate service to all your clients. When you expand, you pick up more business and it starts stretching you thinner and thinner. That’s probably the biggest challenge that we face is just managing that growth to make sure we can maintain our high quality of service to our clients. We pride [ourselves] on the fact that we’re very responsive and very accurate in the information that we give as far as consulting services.
SBJ: What is the worst business advice you’ve received?
Hinds: The worst business advice I ever received was when I was getting ready to do the acquisition to not do it. I’m pretty aggressive in trying to stay in the forefront and leadership role that we have. I’m pretty aggressive when it comes to making sure the products and services we offer are competitive and better than what our competition has. So if you’re not growing, you’re dying.
SBJ: Now that the company has moved to Springfield from Nixa, what value will the newly constructed headquarters and training facility bring?
Hinds: No. 1, it allows us to handle more people at a time. Our classes can be larger. A lot of times in our Nixa facility, we were limited on how many people we could have in the space. We just didn’t have the room. It’s also allowed us to design our facility for safety training. We built the building to expand, so we can offer more types of training as needed.
A pair of area medical colleges that received state grant funding in the fall are now investing the funds toward technology and new programs with the intent of attracting more students to the nursing profession.