Adam Miller, CPA/ABV/CFF, CGMA

CFO, Barron Lighting Group, Phoenix

Barron Lighting is a manufacturing company based in Phoenix. We manufacture and sell LED exit signs and emergency commercial lighting as well as other lighting products. We also make commercial and industrial outdoor lighting, specialty LED architectural lighting, and specialized, patented lighting for the indoor horticultural industry. When the Washington Monument was being renovated, the temporary lighting on the scaffolding around the structure was our product. At the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, our product lights the ship’s perimeter.

With LED technology, the ability for lighting sources to have more customizable, efficient profiles is quickly expanding, and our company is responding just as quickly by manufacturing products in Arizona. We can buy a container load of fully assembled product that is obsolete by the time it arrives from overseas. Why? Production and delivery is so slow that the next-generation product has already come out while we were awaiting delivery of the first-generation product. Our solution? We source the raw components and assemble the product in the United States. In that way, we are able to make products that include the newest technology by swapping out or updating the components that have been improved, as soon as the new technology hits the market.

If one of our customers has a problem, we fix the problem. Rather than fighting over whether lights were installed properly by the customer or completing a form for future remedial action, we just send them a replacement unit that works. Our goal is excellent client satisfaction, not proving we are right. For example, if a customer has problems with the product that prevent the facility from passing inspection, we do whatever it takes as quickly and easily as possible to ensure the product meets inspection, no questions asked. We have had customers whose business could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales each day they are closed. So fixing the problem becomes our problem, and we solve it as quickly and efficiently as we can.

Timely deliveries are critical to our business, so we have maintained strong vendor relationships and have developed a proactive method of solving potential delivery problems. We have a logistics employee whose primary responsibility is ensuring that our inbound and outbound shipments arrive at their destination on a timely basis. Using tracking tools and sites, our logistics employee can detect early in the delivery process if we’re having a problem and proactively resolve it. To ensure our customers’ products arrive timely, we’ve worked at developing and maintaining good relationships with delivery vendors because they’re our lifeblood; getting product timely and in good condition is often difficult, and on top of that, vying for space on a cargo ship or a delivery truck is critical to timely deliveries.

It’s important to celebrate employees’ accomplishments. You have to give employees goals that they can accomplish, and then celebrate their achievements. It’s important for management to openly celebrate employees’ victories and not just focus on problems. If you keep pushing employees without celebrating goal achievement, morale drops. Employees are left with feelings of frustration and simmering anger toward management. It creates a very unhealthy environment.

It’s important to make time for community service. Right now I’m serving as a director on the boards of the Arizona Society of CPAs, the Arizona Humane Society, and Financial Executives International’s Arizona chapter. If a not-for-profit organization has a mission you believe in, you make it a priority and find time in your busy schedule to help the organization. One of the reasons I’m with this company is that the owner supports my charitable work and provides flexibility with my schedule. We are a very family-oriented company that supports our employees’ working to improve themselves and help the community.

—As told to Ken Tysiac, a JofA editorial director.

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