This month we interviewed Joe Martore, CEO of CALIBRE Systems. As they celebrate their 25th year of operations, Joe shares the success of CALIBRE is directly related to their corporate employee-ownership culture which focuses on their values, their customers and taking care of their employees. Read more about their employee-ownership culture and some of Joe’s best pieces of advice below!
Helios HR: What motivates you?
Joe Martore: We have extraordinary people at CALIBRE, individuals that care about the success of our customers. As an employee-owned company, we have employees who think and act as owners. My job is to foster and develop forward-looking strategies and employee development opportunities that will allow the company and our employees to succeed. That’s motivation enough to make sure that we’re thinking about our 750 employees and thinking about our customers and how to make them both successful.
Helios: What do you attribute CALIBRE’s success to?
Joe: We just completed our 25th year of operations and I firmly believe the success of CALIBRE is directly related to our corporate employee-ownership culture. It’s based on our values, it’s focused on the success of our customers and it’s committed to taking care of our employees. Our employees know that every decision that they make every day can affect our customers and the value of the company, and as a result, they act as owners.
Helios: How does employee-ownership affect your corporate culture?
Joe: That’s what we attribute our success to, but employee ownership is really the foundation of the corporate culture that we have. It goes two ways:
1) It affects the approach that the company’s leadership takes in seeking to take care of our employees from benefits programs to employee development.
2) As I said earlier, it also impacts the way our employees make decisions to support our customers and to use the company’s resources as investments for the future. They recognize this is their company, they share in the rewards of the success of the company and they recognize that they need to make decisions on how to invest their time and the company’s resources to increase the value of CALIBRE and support the success of our customers.
For me personally, it means that I work for our employees who are the owners of CALIBRE.
Helios: How do you define your leadership style?
Joe: My leadership style starts with the recognition that there are a lot of smart people in this company. The more that I can encourage them to provide input and then listen to them, the more that we can develop teams of people who participate in leading the company, the better this company will be. My style is to establish a vision and culture, develop strong teams that work together in an environment of open communications, to listen, be honest, and share our strategies and plans with them. I also recognize that I need to make the tough decisions. The employees in this company recognize they have an ability to input and to feedback on leadership.
I tend to be positive in my outlook, believing that we can create the future that we want to have at CALIBRE. All it takes is for us to develop strategies, execute them and work hard, and we can be successful as individuals and as a company.
Helios: Do you have a top challenge today? And if so, how do you address it?
Joe: Anyone in the Washington, DC area who reads the paper or listens to the news, knows the government services industry is changing. There are reductions in federal budgets, increased competition, and acquisition policies are changing. One of the top challenges that we have is to continue to develop and execute strategies that will inspire our employees to be the best they can be every day, to continue to provide value to our customers, and then to increase the value of CALIBRE for our employee-owners.
We do this in a number of ways. First with a transparent business practice philosophy. We share our business plans, strategies, performance and results with our employees. We communicate with them in a number of different ways and seek input from them to make our plans and strategies even better. We have a corporate renewal principle: to be better tomorrow than we are today. That starts and ends with communicating with our employees.
Helios: What does CALIBRE do for the community?
Joe: Since the founding of the company in 1989, being good citizens has been one of our six corporate objectives. This means that as a corporation and as employees, we recognize that it is important to give back to others who are less fortunate in the communities where we work and where we live. We do a number of things that have made an impact.
We provide financial contributions directly to organizations that are in our communities and in the business market areas where we are, such as wounded warriors and transitioning veterans. For instance, we give back to Eastern Seals, who has great programs for our veterans, wounded soldiers, and their families.
We have a matching employee charitable contribution program which provides up to $300 for every employee in the company to give back specifically to charitable organizations of their choice. We provide funds for every organization in the company regardless of where they are located around the world to give back to their communities.
Employees give back with their times and their talents. We have people on Boards of Directors of charitable organizations and who are organizing campaigns to give back. We recognize that we’re fortunate to be able to give back. It’s important that we recognize CSR, but it’s more than just social responsibility, it also helps develop our employees as leaders in today’s society and as individuals who can influence others for good.
We do everything from national programs like supporting Wounded Warriors with our corporate golf tournament, to local programs like donating computers to a local elementary school and providing funds to support teacher training and establishing a 6th-grade citizenship contest that awards students with savings bonds. Just recently a mother of one of the students who received it several years ago, reached out to share with us that her daughter is starting at an Ivy League college this year and fondly remembers that first scholarship that she received from CALIBRE.
Helios: What is the best piece of advice anyone’s ever told you?
Joe: I received an excellent piece of advice early on in my career and that is the importance of telling the truth and treating people fairly.
Secondly, might be observing my mentors and other successful people and recognizing that success comes about as a result of working hard every day and focusing on the task at hand. I’m from Boston originally and Red Auerbach was once the coach of the Celtics who won eleven championships, who once said that “if you’re not working hard there’s someone in the gym practicing to get stronger every day.”