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Catawba College News Service
When the chief executive officer of New Breed Logistics visited Catawba College’s campus in October, he came with encouraging words and “food for thought” for students about to enter the workforce.
Louis DeJoy spoke at the Ralph W. Ketner School of Business’ Fourth Distinguished CEO Lecture Series. His remarks were titled “Tactical Leadership in Changing Environments.”
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., now transplanted to Greensboro, DeJoy propelled New Breed Logistics of High Point from its origins as a small trucking company founded in 1968 to its stature today as the 15th largest privately held company in North Carolina. The company, with close to $600 million in revenue and no debt, he said, now counts Boeing, Siemens, Verizon Wireless, Hallmark, Weight Watchers, and even the United States Postal Service among its clients.
DeJoy, who earned his undergraduate degree in accounting and initially worked for a CPA firm, learned most of his lessons not from business mentors but from the school of hard knocks.
“I have an unbelievable ability to recover from my stupid mistakes,” he said. “I’ve made lots of mistakes across my career, but I’ve learned from them and learned to rebound.”
The desire to be successful and to lead is critical in today’s world of business, he said. “I got involved as a young person in this business. I was not encumbered. I was a risk-taker, and I was able. If you endeavor into something demanding of you personally, you need to be available to deal with it.”
Some key themes for his company’s success, he said, are to create, build, challenge, recover and evolve. Tactical leadership, he said, requires alignment of personal, organizational, marketplace and social, political and economic circumstances.
DeJoy shared eight principles to live by with his audience of approximately 175 students, faculty, staff and community members. They are:
– Perfect the skills of your trade.
– Evaluate your environment (and do it perspectively).
– Capitalize on your opportunities. (Manage your luck.)
– Set things up for success. Setbacks occur from poor preparation.
– Recover well. “I’ve had bankruptcy papers on a shelf in my office two times in my career, and I never signed them,” he said.
– Don’t get too balanced or content. Yesterday’s solution is today’s problem.
– Exceed expectations
– Don’t do anything stupid.
DeJoy encouraged his listeners to evolve and to look for opportunities “even with gloom and doom.”
He said at his company, “we sponsor change, encourage change, but evaluate change before we totally engage it.”
“My team and I each day mine for opportunities,” he said. “Changing environments require shorter planning lines, and creative destruction is a good thing. You simply must know your stuff and apply it.”