Meet Gunther Williams
Success with Vistage
- Shortened the workday to 5 hours while increasing productivity and profit
- Eliminated the need for periodic layoffs
- Decreased production errors
- Increased employee wages
“It blew me away immediately how valuable these meetings are. The process the group uses is exceptional. I am on many boards and councils, but I don’t know anywhere else where I could get the level of accountability and support.”– Gunther Williams, CEO, Idaho Sewing for Sports, Inc.
Idaho Sewing for Sports, Inc. routinely laid off employees during slow periods, only to hire the same workers back during heavier production times. While this yo-yo employment strategy is a standard industry practice, it never sat well with CEO Gunther Williams. His parents founded the ski resort padding products company, and he thinks of the employees as family.
“The bottom line is this: I love these people,” Gunther says. “When they walk in my door, on day one they are family.”
Gunther knew there had to be better ways to treat employees while still meeting profit goals. Though it is a four-hour drive each way to get to meetings, Williams joined Vistage to take advantage of the ideas, expertise, and accountability the high-level peer group brings to his company.
“It blew me away immediately how valuable these meetings are,” Gunther says. “The process the group uses is exceptional. I am on many boards and councils, but I don’t know anywhere else where I could get the level of accountability and support.”
In one of his early meetings, Gunther’s Vistage group Chair Jan Salisbury recommended he read “The Five-Hour Workday,” by Stephan Aarstol.
“I started to realize that our production issues were actually being created by my own policies,” Williams says. “I could see how we were pulling our focus away from productivity and instead of putting the focus on the number of hours you’re sitting in your seat every day.”
Williams realized that he could avoid if instituted a policy of paying his workers a weeks’ worth of pay for a weeks’ worth of product — no matter how long it took them to produce it.
Productivity has increased by 26% over a six-year average while mistakes have decreased. What’s more, Gunther has been able to be the kind of boss he always wanted to be. He has grown his business and increased his employees’ wages, all while nurture a company culture that comports with his values.
Gunther credits this transformative change to the insights and accountability he receives at Vistage.
“What I love most about the Vistage experience is the accountability. It gives me something to work toward, something to move my business forward,” he says. “This year, I don’t believe there was a 30-day period where we didn’t make a huge move forward in one aspect of the business or another by implementing the insights I learned at Vistage.”