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Sunday, 29 April 2012 20:00

Michigan 50 Companies to Watch: Axios Inc.

Written by  MiBiz Staff
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Founded: 1988

Location: Grand Rapids
Top Executive: Dan Barcheski, CEO
Primary Business: Human resources
Employees: 42 in 2011; 44 expected in 2012

Now with eight offices and throughout the region, Axios Inc. is a leader in human resources services. The company operates on Lean Sigma principles more commonly associated with manufacturers, which has allowed Axios to increase sales while avoiding more overhead.

How have you managed to grow your company?

We have tried to take a long-term view when making decisions about how we will compete, interact with our customers, employees and community. We have a culture of attempting to do the right things, even if it meant we might be hurt by our decision or it would negatively impact us financially. I have surrounded myself with outstanding people. All of us bring special qualities to the team, so the whole working together rather than individually has made us stronger.

How did you survive the recession?

Any executive that has been through a difficult economic environment knows that there are no perfect solutions to surviving a severe downturn. Our balance of leading by example and making hard choices has made the executive team better and helped us survive. If you are going to cut wages you need to be the first to cut your own wage. If you are going to consolidate, you need to be up front and explain your decisions to the team, even when this may prove to be extremely difficult.

What is the largest challenge you have at your business?

Intuition combined with as many financial and strategic facts as you can practically gather is usually what most key executives use to guide their team. As the digital/information age has swept over the business community, gathering information and making good strategic decisions has become more and more difficult. This is due to the fact that there is so much data to consider that relying on old decision-making methods might not be effective. So having the ability to understand the trends in the market that will truly affect your organization versus falling into the next “flavor of the month” management scheme is important. My father has always preached to me that it was important to know what you do well and not get caught up in other people’s opinions.  We have tried to remain cutting edge while remembering his advice.

What is the best entrepreneurial advice you’ve received?

Ben Shapiro and Samuel Hayes have been advisers to our organization over the years.  As respected as Ben is across the world, it amazed me how practical his business advice was. Never too clever, always block and tackle the daily business well, and work smart and hard were his best suggestions. Sam taught us to peel the financial onion and track our cash flow on a weekly basis. Locally, we owe significant thanks to Bruce Townsley for his assistance setting up the 13-week cash flow models that helped us follow Sam’s advice. If we strayed too far away from their advice, the market would generally remind us of this.

How do you innovate in your company?

Relying on our observations of the marketplace, insisting that our younger executives provide direction on trends for Generation Y, and continuing to create more efficient methods of running our business. This would include digital marketing, search engine optimization, organic search, out bound marketing, lean and six sigma methodology.

What is your company’s greatest opportunity?

Our company’s greatest opportunity is to help assist the Michigan business community’s efforts to strengthen their global competitiveness.  By strengthening our client’s competitiveness, Michigan families are provided outstanding employment opportunities and are offered a better chance to improve their lives and to thrive.

Read 1426 times Last modified on Saturday, 04 August 2012 16:12

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