By Ron May, Executive Consultant at Riverbank, with Kaylee Somerville, Project Manager at Riverbank
We have little control over when or how a crisis occurs. However, we can control the choices we make to respond. I worked for over 30 years at DTE Energy, the largest utility serving Southeast Michigan, eventually becoming the executive vice president. During the great recession beginning in 2008, like many, my firm had survival decisions to make. As an indicator, two of our major customers, Chrysler and GM, went through bankruptcy, and other businesses and banks were in deep trouble. We were in crisis mode. Faced with several options, the most obvious being slashing costs and laying off employees, we decided to go in a different direction. We decided to declare no layoffs to our employees and prioritize buying from local manufacturers in support of the economy of Michigan. We chose to respond with strength and positivity. We focused on Continuous Improvement and made employment commitments to our employees, high focused service to our customers and earnings support for our stockholders. These decisions set the stage for a company that went from approximately $49 a share in 2009 to $120 in 2021. Instead of laying off employees, the leadership team asked the employees for help. They were asked to help the company save costs and build revenue in other ways.