A Letter From the President
Joseph B. Smith, President & CEO
Last week we held our annual Smith Brothers State of the Company meeting. We had over 180 of us gathered to look at our 2022 results and look ahead at expectations for the future.
We have been doing an annual meeting now for over two decades, created because our team members shared feedback that they wanted to know more about how we are doing as a collective team. Foundational stuff – communication, transparency, past results, where we are headed, hurdles, who are we, what we are shooting for, how we are getting there, and what does it mean to team members and the team as a whole.
Earlier in our history, our company was aiming to grow. We were so focused on growing, working countless hours to achieve it. Along the way, we forgot that not all team members knew what we were doing. So, we started this annual internal gathering where we invest a few hours together to show what we are up to as a team – in all areas of our company.
In addition to results and metrics, we renew our commitments to our purpose of Helping Others, review our Values, Standards (Sales, Service, and Operational), and the expectations to hold each other accountable to all of them. We also celebrate those who have shown leadership and results in Sales, Service, and overall culture. Lots of fun and smiles everywhere. I love hearing about the Service teams that truly deliver every day for our clients – both our external and internal clients.
We grew top line by 13% and had top quartile profitability. All our profit centers are healthy and we’re investing in them. All need continuous improvement yet are moving directionally well. We grew over half that by Organic and some by M&A. We continue to be acquisitive when it makes sense yet are investing heavily in organic through our focus in our people development and wellbeing and attracting the best talent and culturally aligned professionals. We have become the employer of choice in our market – we need to continue to leverage this.
Our focus is on People – our teammates – our clients – our community. If we do this well and wrap some financial discipline around it, we will end up with profitable growth in the top quartile of our industry. We did just this in 2022. We have shown, as a for profit entity, we can focus on people and drive to help others and make money in a capitalist system. It takes one heck of an effort, focus, and hard work with a super culture – and it can be done. Our stakeholders want us healthy and we are in good shape.
At the end of 2022, I challenged all our profit center leaders to picture their profit center double its current size. What strains would you have? What resources would you need to keep our promise to stakeholders at double our revenue? Then I asked them to write it all down and map it out. Where would the revenue come from? What would they need? What opportunities do they see?
We have no imminent need to double our size, yet we do have a need to grow because we know growth is good for all stakeholders. We also have long term equity holders so we can talk about healthy growth and investments, not only growth piled on, but transformational investments for the future while keeping our health in our near-term performance. I asked how long it would take to get to these opportunities.
Out of this came our 7-year plan for which we are laser focused and started in 2023. Our investments in 2023 reflect our 7-year plan, which has some significant changes in our teams through succession and emerging professionals, fast adopting technology, our client value proposition, and our expanded presence in our communities.
We named it our “Next Level” plan. We will see where the market takes us in M&A, labor, technology, and the changing risks and needs of our clients. We could be twice the size in 2031 or more – or less – we will see. We know we will only pursue what gets us to optimize all stakeholders, not one at the expense of another. We will be conscious capitalists.
It is Risky to Not Take Risks. We believe to grow one needs to learn, lead, collaborate, and take risks. We will do so responsibly and see what opportunities the markets present along the way. I do know what is in our control is to be people focused and be guided by our Values and run by our Standards. I know we will be working smart at Helping Others and remaining sustainably relevant as we will endlessly aim to row in the same direction and take care of our people. “The strength of the wolf is in the pack and the strength of the pack is in the wolf.”
Thanks for being a part of us getting to the Next Level for our people, our clients, and our communities.