Remarks to Third Annual
Idaho Private 75 Luncheon
Boise Centre on the Grove
Thursday, Oct. 29, 1999
Good afternoon, everyone.
I’m Bruce Budge, managing partner with the Boise office of Arthur Andersen — the largest private company in America.
On behalf of Arthur Andersen and our co-sponsors, U.S. Bank and the Idaho Statesman, let me welcome you to the Third Annual Idaho Private 75 Luncheon.
I would also like to welcome here today (modify to suit: the Mayor of Boise, the Mayor of Caldwell, the Mayor of Nampa, U.S. Rep., U.S. Senator, etc.)
They join us in saluting the creative ideas and sound business practices that have grown your companies and earned your ranking among Idaho’s largest private companies.
It’s also nice to see at least a few familiar faces here today.
I haven’t been back in Idaho very long. Three months, actually.
But it’s familiar turf — home, really.
I grew up in Moscow. So moving back has been a wonderful chance to renew old friendships and begin new ones.
I tell you, after 23 years in Seattle, I was more than glad when the news of “the Big Trade” came through.
Many of you know Patty Bedient, managing partner in Boise for many years.
Well, earlier this year, she took an opportunity in Seattle. For her, it was like going from the Minors to the Majors.
Since I arrived here, I can’t believe I’ve actually heard people grumble about Boise’s traffic.
Let me tell you, there’s a major difference between Seattle’s traffic and ours.
For those of you who know Patty, I’m happy to report that she is doing fine.
Oh, she had a little trouble at first. People kept kidding her about Idaho and its “famous potatoes.”
But when Patty went to trade her license plates in, she learned just how envious Washington is about Idaho.
You’ve heard about the new Washington plates, haven’t you?
There’s a BIG mushroom on them.
And across the top, it says, …
“Famous . . . Fungus.”
Idaho used to be a pretty well-kept secret.
Not any more.
One of the fastest-growing states in the nation for much of the ‘90s, Idaho has seen the influx slow a bit.
It’s given us all a chance to take a deep breath, and take stock of all we have here:
• Abundant sunshine
• Great outdoors recreation
• and a wonderful, diversified economy.
Look down the list of this year’s Private 75. It shows J.R. Simplot again at the top of the list, a testament if ever there was one to the power of the potato.
In the top 10, however, you also find companies from the retail, . . . technology, . . . wood products, . . . insurance . . . and energy sectors.
Wherever I look, . . . and however I see people dreaming and working and contributing to the Idaho story, . . . I am most impressed by the quality of our human capital.
If I could point to anything that has impressed me over the last 90 days, it is the high calibre of the people who call Idaho home.
This list, these 75 private companies, are proof of that — that people here are smart, technically skilled, aware of the global economy and staking their claim to its opportunities.
Go anywhere in the U.S., and you would be hard-pressed to find greater people, or an economy with greater breadth.
Diversity, of course, means stability.
When one industrial sector slows down, the strength in other sectors can provide the resilience to resist recession.
So, to everyone here today, please take our heartfelt congratulations, and take them back to all the people who helped get you here today.
And as worthy members of Idaho’s Private 75, join me in saluting No. 76, No. 77 and every other enterprise not on the list, but working just as hard to build the Idaho of our dreams.
Now, for a look at some of the new names on the list, and some of the more noteworthy trends, please give a warm welcome to the new president of U.S. Bank in Idaho, Mr. Jim Stamey.
We love lists, don’t we?
Any good list like the Private 75 takes on greater meaning when we compare one year’s to another’s.
We all want to see what has changed, and why? Who is new? What do they do, and what does that say about what is going on in Idaho’s economy?
The biggest tea leaf in the cup this year probably belongs to the No. 3 company, MCMS Inc.
No. 2 may look like a different face, but in fact, WinCo Foods Inc. is the new name of the company that placed second in each of the first two years as Waremart Inc.
But MCMS Inc. is truly a new face.
How, without even being on the list in previous years, could it leap not just onto the list — but all the way to No. 3? Simple — with a big boost from its former parent, Micron Technologies.
Spun off in early 1998 to a group of investors, MCMS Inc. has become a major source for electronic component outsourcing.
When companies like Cisco Systems, Micron Technology and Nokia need someone to buy raw materials, set up, assemble and test electronic components, they turn increasingly to MCMS Inc.
With operations in North Carolina, Malaysia, Belgium and soon, Mexico, MCMS Inc. is spreading its shade globally but putting down deep, strong roots in Idaho.
Today, it employs 1,200 in Nampa — and another 1,000 at its other sites.
Next year? Who knows.
CEO Rob Subia says revenues of around $430 million for fiscal 1999 will be up nearly 30 percent compared to last year.
Not bad for a first-timer, sure to be a repeat guest at this event.
Two health insurance companies made major moves to the 5th and 6th positions.
Blue Cross of Idaho jumped from the 57th spot to No. 5 this year, and Regence BlueShield of Idaho makes its first appearance on the list after declining to participate the first two years.
Congratulations to both, and a special welcome to the folks from Regence — we hope you enjoy the festivities.
Frank VanderSloot needs no introduction, and yet you will note his name twice on this year’s list . . .
• Once as CEO of Melaleuca Inc., the direct marketing seller of personal care products at No. 7,
• And once again at No. 61 as owner of Snake River Cheese out in Blackfoot.
Commodity growers and food processors remain a major category of the Private 75.
Behind Simplot, for instance, we find Agri Beef Co. at No. 10, Oppenheimer Companies at No. 11, and S-Sixteen Limited Partnership at No. 13.
A second category that continues to hold up a healthy share of the state’s private business table is the wood products industry.
Idaho Timber at No. 8, Woodgrain Millwork at No. 9, and Idaho Forest Industries at No. 15 were all on last year’s list, all in relatively the same position.
One leg no longer supporting the private business table the way it once did is the mining sector.
In this decade, it has faded from prominence and today has not one company on the Private 75 list.
In its place, high-tech companies have surged to major influence. Companies such as Preco Inc. at No. 14, SCIENTECH Inc. at No. 23, and Advanced Input Devices Inc. at No. 48 give testament to the strength of technology among Idaho’s privately held companies.
MCMS and Regence and Snake River Cheese, of course, aren’t the only newcomers to the list.
We have a total of nine new companies this year. Their enterprises cover everything from fuel to fertilizer. From Fearless Farris Service Stations of Boise at No. 25, to Commercial Tire of Boise at No. 75.
From No. 39 — J&H Forest Products of Boise — to No. 65 — SummerWinds Garden Centers, also of Boise
From Lewis Mechanical & Metalworks of Pocatello at No. 57 . . . to Western Timber Products of Coeur d’Alene at No. 53.
Each brings a unique success story to the list.
The name of Walter Minnick, for instance, is familiar to many of you.
Former CEO at TJ International and a one-time Senate candidate, he started SummerWinds Garden Centers, as we understand it, because he needed something to do.
Entrepreneurs are like that.
With headquarters in Idaho, SummerWinds has thrived by tapping into the boom economies of the Southwestern United States.
Not bad, for a “hobby.”
Like Regence Blue Shield, Commercial Tire is now on the list because it decided to toss its hat into the ring for the first time this year.
Continuing the theme of global orientation, we should note that Lewis Mechanical is working on a major specialty plastics plant in Greece.
Welcome, each and every one of you, to this year’s Private 75. We hope we see you all here again next year.
If you compare this year’s list with last year’s, you will see one trend that reflects a bit of a slowdown in the population boom from Boise west.
Building contractors remain a strong segment on the list, but as a group, they have slipped a bit.
Last year, six contractors were among the top 50.
This year, only one is.
Within the list itself, it’s interesting to see where we’ve had major movement. We mentioned Blue Cross, by far the biggest gainer.
Another big gainer was Engineered Structures of Boise, which leaped forward 12 spots, from No. 47 to No. 35.
Dave Kingston Produce of Idaho Falls advanced 10 positions, Ridley’s Food Corp. of Jerome rose from 50th to 42nd, Power Engineers Inc. of Hailey gained 11 spots, and Broulim’s Supermarkets of Rigby surged a full 12 spots.
Finally, Transport Truck and Trailer and Western Aircraft, both based in Boise, each ranked nine points higher this year than last.
No matter where you rank on the list, please, congratulate yourselves for just making it.
And now, to introduce our guest speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce the publisher of the Idaho Statesman, Margaret Buchanan.
Thank you, Jim.
In the newspaper business, we love a great story — and Idaho is a great story.
Since moving here about a year ago, I have been so impressed by so many things.
When you come from upstate New York, you can’t help but love the sunshine.
Beneath that sun, Idaho has put in place a host of factors that also make for a great business climate:
• Low utility costs, which have been instrumental in the steady growth of our electronics industry.
• A strong spirit of partnership between the private sector and our government agencies. This helps control taxation, and lets business do what it does best.
• And of course, a skillful and dedicated work force, without which Idaho’s largest privately held companies would not be here today.
You know, it’s a bit of a cliche to say that our most important resource is our people.
But it’s true.
At the Statesman, our people are the major reason we can produce what we call “the daily miracle.”
For us and every other company today, the biggest challenge is empowering our front-line employees.
After all, they are the ones who represent our companies day in and day out to our customers.
If they can’t do their jobs with smarts, skill and service, our customers eventually will become someone else’s customers.
So . . . how do we empower our people?
We can formulate all the Vision we want, but if we can’t communicate it to our employees, our employees can’t communicate it to our customers.
So it’s critical that we learn to communicate clearly. We need to let our employees know what we expect of them.
Define the target.
Provide the tools.
Tell them how they’re doing.
Listen to what they can tell us about our products, our customers, our competitors.
And thank them — again . . . and again . . . and again.
One gentleman who knows a few things about maximizing the value of our human capital is our guest speaker today.
I’ve heard Steven Wiley speak before, and I know you’re in for a real treat.
Steve routinely gets rave reviews for his witty and oh-so-savvy speeches and training presentations to some of America’s major corporations.
When your customers repeatedly include names such as Ford, IBM, Black & Decker, MCI and Gannett, you must have something pretty worthwhile to say — and say it well.
The founder of two international franchise companies and a chain of fleet management centers, Steve Wiley has paid his dues and earned his stripes in the trenches.
You may recognize him from his several years representing the Pritikin Longevity Centers on TV.
Today, Steve will be speaking about “The Human Side of High Performance.”
In other words, empowerment.
He’s going to talk about how we can tap the best talents of our people, harness all that creativity and put it to the benefit of our companies, by motivating, educating and training our people.
And he will talk about the key components to any high-performance organization:
• Understanding Leadership Skills
• Improving Negotiation Techniques
• Adoption of Consultative Sales Techniques
• and Enhancing Productivity
But rather than tell you what he’s going to say, why don’t I just let you listen to him?
Please, give a warm welcome to a man who has more than a few great ideas about how each of us can climb the ladder of success, Mr. Steven B. Wiley.
Provides his own material.
Don’t you just want to run right out there and empower someone?
Steven, thank you again for those wise words.
(Leads more applause.)
Now, to wrap things up, I’m going to hand the mike back to my colleague from Arthur Andersen, Bruce Budge.
Thank you, Margaret, and thank you, Steven, for the inspiring message.
As I said earlier, our companies are nothing without the talents and energies of quality people.
We are fortunate in Idaho to have this most valuable of resources.
Let’s respect and reward them, and they will reward and respect us.
Again, on behalf of Arthur Andersen, U.S. Bank and the Idaho Statesman, congratulations on your continued success, and thank you for joining us here today.
Lastly, a reminder that as you exit today, someone from each company should pick up your commemorative award.
Now, I know all of you want to advance a few spots on the Idaho Private 75 next year, so let’s get back to making these great companies even better.