Roger Grochmal

A Helping Hand for Long-Term Planning

roger-grochmalRoger Grochmal is the CEO of AtlasCare, Canada’s only ISO Certified Heating and Cooling residential contractor.

In this interview, he shares with us how CEO Global Network has helped his organization make critical long-term planning decisions, while bringing him closer to his principal business partner – his son, Michael.

CEOGN: How long have you been a member of CEO Global Network?

RG: I’ve been a member for a little over two years.

CEOGN: How did you find out about us?

RG: Peter Churchill-Smith, CEO of Newport Private Wealth, referred me.

CEOGN: Please tell us why you joined CEO Global Network and what expectations you had at the start of your membership.

RG: I definitely wanted to network with other CEOs, but I primarily joined for my son Michael.  He didn’t come from the same business education background that I did so, from a practical sense, I wanted him to learn from CEOs who have been running successful businesses for a long time.  I hoped he would become exposed to some broad business concepts.

CEOGN: How successfully has CEO Global Network delivered on your original expectations?

RG: It has exceeded all my expectations. Ironically, I may have been a bigger beneficiary than my son. Regardless of the business you may be in, it’s easy to get isolated in your industry.  But in reality, when you sit down with people in other sectors, the issues are fundamentally the same.  It’s strategy, people, marketing, and so on.

CEO Global Network exposed me to the fact that there is more to my business.

CEOGN: Please tell us the three highlights of your membership so far.  What stands out?

RG: First, I would say that I have an improved business relationship with my son because we’ve been exposed to the same ideas.

I’ve also really enjoyed and benefited from the monthly coaching sessions and group meetings.  These are all about accountability.  It’s a really great process, because you’re expected to deliver on your promises. Your coach asks the tough questions because they want you to be more successful.  Don’t get me wrong: they don’t tell you what to do; they just make suggestions and get you to think about your objectives in a different way.

For example, at AtlasCare we’re moving towards a model where you coach people to perform in the future, rather than evaluating based on the past.  It’s a forward-looking approach that sets people up for success and I feel really strong about it.  In many ways that development comes directly from CEO Global Network meetings.      

CEOGN: When thinking of CEO Global Network, what three words first come to mind?

RG: Coaching, People, and Strategy. If I had a fourth, I would add Accountability.

CEOGN: What value has CEO Global Network delivered to you personally?

RG: It’s given me tools for working more effectively with people who have different leadership styles, like my son Michael. He doesn’t have to be me. I’ve learned that all sorts of people can be business leaders. They have different sets of skills and lead from a different place.  For example, I have a strong technical and business background. Michael is an excellent salesperson and is stronger in that area than I am.  What we’ve done is build a team that complements his strengths.

It’s also helped with the way I view people in my organization.  We often hear about getting the right people on the bus.  Every company goes through staffing issues.  One question my group has learned to answer is: “If this person were to tell you today that they were leaving, would you be upset, or relieved?” 

Then there’s strategy.  Everyone in my group is good at Strategic thinking, but challenges come up at the execution stage.  The groups are a great help for putting strategy in place in your organization.

CEOGN: What impact has CEO Global Network had on your organization?

RG: It’s been a tremendous help in getting our succession plan in place at AtlasCare. One of the driving questions for me has been “how do you put in place an effective succession plan?“  I’m certainly a lot closer. 

Two issues come up when I’m tackling this: first, there’s the matter of ownership succession – you want to have something of value to hand over.  Second, there’s management succession – how do you ensure that the same skills and the appropriate team are put together for future leaders.  My group has really helped in finding the answers to these questions.

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