Use The Three C’s: Concentrate, Create and Consensus (plus the 4th “C” the customer!): This industry has great opportunity, but, as this article reflects, many challenges. To be successful, an ancillary solution provider must concentrate on his customer so as to effectively serve his or her needs, create innovative solutions that also meet precise regulatory requirements, and create a consensus environment of agreement regarding the best solution for a particular marketplace challenge. Of course, the big “plus,” the 4th C, is the customer. Without the customer, there is no opportunity to deploy the Three C’s!
As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know In Order To Run a Successful Company”, I had the pleasure to interview Alex Alexandrov. Alex is CEO of ICC NW and vice president of ICC Inc. An entrepreneur by birth and electrical engineer by education, Alex also looks back at over 20 years of experience in international management consulting and continues to find creative solutions to industry challenges. Alex speaks four languages and worked in the US, the Caribbean, France, Russia, Poland, Denmark and Germany. As VP Marketing & Sales, he successfully established a beer brand, making it the №1 beer in the Polish market within one year of his tenure. As a commissioned officer of the US army, he has a disciplined approach to project execution and leads his associates from the front.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of what first introduced you into this business or helped you get interested in the business?
The ICC group is a leading provider of engineering and turnkey services for the process related industry. At our Oregon location we manufacture customized stainless-steel tanks and systems.
We were approached by a firm of architects who mentioned a client in the Los Angeles area in need of drastically scaling up production of cannabis infused cocktails. With significant experience in carbonated and adult beverages, as well as FDA and TTB requirements and relations, we felt that we were up to the task. So, we engaged with the end-client and prepared a conceptual design and a 3D layout for the new facility. The client liked it and the rest, as they say, is history.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I think staging a “rescue” of a bottling line from a war-torn region and beating our performance results deadline counts as one of our favorite stories!
A longtime client called us up with an urgent request: he needed to know whether we could help relocate a fast bottling line. Of course, we said sure. To which he replied, the line has to be moved from east Ukraine to Malawi and that the time is short owing to hostilities emerging in the region. We were able to help get the final container out of the Ukraine just before the first shots were fired.
The result beyond the “rescue?” Despite all the issues one could expect in importing a significant number of containers to a country with poor infrastructure, the bottling line started and reached agreed-upon efficiency within 3 days of the deadline.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
An installer we particularly trust rigged some auxiliary tanks for a client. Followed the drawings to the letter. We came on site to barely see the tops of the tanks from the catwalk. Turned out the tanks shipped with short legs.
Lesson learned: It is far easier to double check the product prior to shipping than to weld longer legs on to a tank while it is hanging from a hoist.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Actually, there are many. I suppose, after finishing the Templeton Rye distillery, we are all engrossed in building the Kona brewery on the Big Island for Craft Brew Alliance. The brewery will have an amazing sustainability performance and great overall brewing key performance indicators. We are particularly thrilled to have designed and procured this plant at a very attractive per barrel production price for such a great client.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
We have an incredible team. There is a high concentration of great talent and drive at ICC. In terms of the external influences, I would guess you won’t hear this very often, but our banker Stacia Peterson from Busey Bank has been a true breath of fresh air. She was willing to look deeply enough to see the true financial potential in what we are doing and influenced her team in such a way as to allow us to really catapult to the next level. She stands apart.
This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
Simply showing up and serving our client needs with excellence is working well.
Can you share your top “5 Things You Need To Know In Order To Run a Successful Company”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Regulatory requirements: One should be very aware of the FDA and TBB requirements in each state. Otherwise, money spent on packaging and product development may be wasted if the product cannot be distributed.
- Market sensibilities: this market is dynamic and changing quickly. It is imperative to follow developing trends and issues so you can respond quickly.
- Patience: You need to be patient, this is not actually a “get rich” quick industry. There are a number of regulatory and political issues, and this changes from market to market.
- Flexibility: You may not need to services out of an emerging war zone, but, to serve as an ancillary solution to the cannabis industry, you will need to respond and change quickly to your customer’s needs.
- The Three C’s: Concentrate, Create and Consensus (plus the 4th “C” the customer!): this industry has great opportunity, but, as this article reflects, many challenges. To be successful, an ancillary solution provider must concentrate on his customer so as to effectively serve his or her needs, create innovative solutions that also meet precise regulatory requirements, and create a consensus environment of agreement regarding the best solution for a particular marketplace challenge. Of course, the big “plus,” the 4th C, is the customer. Without the customer, there is no opportunity to deploy the Three C’s!
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
There is so much written on this subject. We are all expected to read and follow well researched good management and leadership advice. CEOs are meant to create a safe yet challenging environment for all members of the team. So, I’d say, no matter how successful you become, always put in more energy and drive than you expect from each of your people. When you run out, it is time to step aside.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Tolerance. Rather than trying to change the world, be willing to simply grant people the right to be the way they wish to be. If we reach tolerance, we can easier work together to achieve great things.