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Service entrepreneur: Robert W. Poorman Jr.


Robert W. Poorman, Jr.

Shepard Poorman

Communications Corporation


There are no "employees" at Indianapolis-based Shepard Poorman Communications Corporation.

True, the company writes 340 paychecks a week and does $30 million in printing a year, but no employees work there. They are all "staff members," a distinction CEO Robert "Bob" Poorman instituted in 1978 to communicate the thought that "we are all members of the same team, working together to achieve a common goal."

A good incentive idea, sure, but does it penetrate more than bulletin board and company-newsletter deep? It does with Poorman as cheerleader and keeper of the corporate flame. As one staff member says, "He makes it fun. He makes it exciting. He inspires us to be our best. He pushes us into using talents we didn't even know we had.'

Staff members are divided into teams at the full-service communications company. There are 12 members in the executive group and I 1 teams in the plants with five to nine members each. Decisions are made by consensus, guided by a formal 11-point corporate philosophy, 31 short-term goals, 24 intermediate goals and 13 ultimate goals. The capstone is this corporate mission statement: "To professionally provide American business and industry a quality source of communication service from concept through fulfillment."

Less formal, and maybe more valued than the paycheck, is an Inky Pat," which is a memorandum from one staff member citing a job well done by another. This pat on the back is tacked on the inky Pat bulletin board for al I to see and also is rewarded with movie tickets and a gift certificate at a local mall, plus a parking place right next to the front door. Then, there is the "Heart & Sole" award with its bronzed imprint of a shoe sole. it goes to the customer service representative who can honestly claim he "walked an extra mile for a customer. "Then, there is the annual Christmas party and the company picnic and the annual gift of a Thanksgiving turkey or ham to every staff member and family. All of this recognition and camaraderie creates a cadre of happy campers.

"My involvement in charity functions in the city is more behind the scenes," Poorman says. "We donate a tremendous amount of printed material. We do things for so many people I don't want to name them. We do something two or three times a month."

The successful entrepreneur's secret, Poorman says, is "customers. Without a customer, nothing happens. My belief is, if your people take care of the customers, everything will take care of itself."
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Title Annotation:Indiana's Entrepreneurs of the Year
Author:Johnson, J. Douglas
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Previous Article:Retail entrepreneur: David H. Russell.
Next Article:Manufacturing entrepreneur: James W. Ake.

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