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  • Writer's pictureNick Andriacchi

Great Business Mentor(s) – Hard To Find & Everybody Needs One

Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) supports and encourages people to develop specific skills and knowledge that will maximize their business potential and improve their performance. Most of the time, this happens informally.  If your lucky, you will meet a few people in your professional life that take the time to help you develop skills that are not really taught in school.


I consider myself of the lucky ones. I was mentored primarily by two individuals that invested their time to allow me to develop the business savvy and relationship building skills that have built a 30-year career in the payroll funding business. There was no formal training. I just had a lot of access to these individuals - observed how they strategized, worked hard and always, always put the customer first – even at the expense of profit. These are the lessons and experiences that I remember on a daily basis.


 The 3 main skills I learned from these two successful businessmen are:


1.     Know Your Marketplace

2.     Listen to Your Customers

3.     Problem Solve


At first, I mostly observed and contributed behind the scenes – much like an apprentice. Once they felt confident enough in my ability to carry out corporate goals, I was given the freedom and authority to help grow the respected company(s). 





One of these individual’s is Jim Stoynoff (Pictured above, middle).  Jim was a pioneer in the payroll funding business. In 1981, he co-founded Damian Services Corporation as the first company to respond to the business needs of independently owned staffing firms.  As a former owner of a staffing firm, he recognized that independents often lack the financial, back office infrastructure and technology resources needed to effectively compete with larger firms. Damian was the first company of its kind to integrate and provide these resources to independents.


We grew the company organically. Start-up, small and mid-market staffing companies were able to leverage the resources we had to offer in order to compete with the nationals and grow their businesses. And we serviced our customers like nobody’s business. We listened and adapted to their needs and the changing needs of the industry.


In the late 1990’s the staffing market was expanding and changing, much like today's. Some of our clients faced challenges when adding additional locations. One reoccurring challenge was the need to access software and data from satellite locations.   Cloud-based technology was not yet available so we got creative and met their needs by offering a product called a “data warehouse”.  Front-end software, employee, account data and reporting accessible anywhere via the internet. Our clients loved it as it was cutting-edge technology at the time and their input was used to help create it.


Since we stayed ahead of the curve in terms of service and technology, we rarely lost customers. This allowed us to become one of the best independent funding companies in the country without sacrificing service or price.


Prior to being mentored by Jim, I had another mentor – Nick Bertucci, President Bertucci’s Meat Market. Bertucci’s was a small independent grocer that was in business for over 50 years. On the surface, we specialized in fresh and affordable groceries. However, our real specialty was servicing the customer. That allowed us to scale up and successfully compete against the larger chain grocers.


Again, knowing the marketplace, listening and satisfying the customer was paramount to growing that business.


As fate has it, Jim Stoynoff’s family were customers of Bertucci’s. Jim was impressed with the customer service of the store - which is one of the main reasons he hired me. Thinking deeper, it was this type of “relationship building” he insisted to have with his company, no matter how big it became.


Best of all, when both proprietors (and partners) were ready to exit their respected businesses, they were able to sell business at above market prices. Partly due to financial strength and partly due to strength of reputation.


 

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