Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Keys Strategies of a Very Successful Company: PGC

Many of you that have been to my seminars have heard me talk about one of my favorite client companies: Philadelphia Gear ( and their fantastic CEO – Carl Rapp. I have a tremendous amount of respect for both the company and for Carl and recently asked him if he would give me a brief list of the key ideas that drive his business. Carl and his team (Also full of really super people) run a very successful organization in a brutally tough global market and I believe strongly that they have a firm grasp of what it truly takes to run a world class company. Take a close look at these key strategies… I think they are spot on.

  • Transparency in all things. Everyone should know what the scoreboard reads.
  • Run to problems at customers as fast as you run to opportunities. How you attempt to solve problems without laying blame says more about you than anything else.
  • If you can’t say “no” to certain orders, that you know are bad for your business, you have no strategy.
  • For me, when you talk about building a company or changing a culture you will need all these things to be great, but in order of importance: People, Strategy, Tools, Common Incentives, Communication, and Hustle.
  • Willingness to fail coupled with a paranoid sense of urgency to fix whatever failed. Call failure a failure: Take responsibility, forgive yourself and move on.
  • Controversial: Take care of employees first and then customers. Unless you show integrity and urgency in caring for your people you will never get them to take care of your customers with integrity and urgency. The immutable law of non-monopoly businesses: profit only follows quality and service.
  • Don’t compare yourself to your industry, if your industry is mediocre. Aim higher.

PS: yes, this is really the way they run their company – every day. Impressive and delivers strong positive results to the employees, customers and bottom-line!

*** Philadelphia Gear is part of Wind River Holdings
– another super company run by very talented people.


  1. Hi John,
    As usual, it was great to see you last week during our national sales meeting. The customer service session is, in true John Spence fashion, a probing examination of our core corporate behavioral practices. Our customer service is now ready for overhaul and improvement. I look forward to seeing you in L.A. in May for the customer service meeting.

    Thanks for helping PGC move forward. Carl builds teams with excellent people…and you are surely part of the deep bench strength that carl works on building every day.

    Best regards,

  2. Thanks for the kind words Scott == great to see you and the rest of the PGC team too — I look forward to seeing you in May – JBS