After 34 years as the company’s CEO, founder of Liberty Business Systems, Ron Fuhrman, is stepping into the Owner role and bringing on Shawn Peterson as CEO to take the company to the next level.
“We’ve taken the company to a level of sales, operations, and clients where it gets to a point that makes it hard to get past it with our existing model,” said Fuhrman. “In many cases, it takes a different individual to help surpass this milestone. I do believe you have to find the right personality— and that’s what we have with Shawn.”
According to Fuhrman, this type of move is very common among business founders and he believes it’s the right move for Liberty.
“It’s very common in any business. The person who starts a company usually has a certain skill set that can get you to a certain level,” said Fuhrman.
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Was it difficult to hand over something that you’ve built from the ground up?
Ron Fuhrman: I don’t find it hard to do that. You can’t be great at everything. You can be good at a lot of things but you can’t do it all. Good companies surround themselves with good people and I’ve watched a lot of other companies over the years go through the same transition.
What are you looking for Shawn to accomplish with the company?
Ron Fuhrman: I’m looking for Shawn to put together a sales team that’s very good, energetic, effective, and builds a company culture that will be a fun place to work. I think we’ve had that in the past too, but it’s a lot more fun if you’re growing and getting past a milestone that we are very proud to have met.
What made you feel like Liberty was the right fit?
Shawn Peterson: When I was speaking with Ron, he said he wanted to win in the marketplace and I’m a really competitive guy. I really love sports. I love competition. To team up with somebody who has built up this great infrastructure that is well known, has 34 years in the community, and have an opportunity to take that and build upon that base is a great opportunity to do something together.
How has your time at Liberty been so far?
Shawn Peterson: It’s fun. I think we have a lot of the same ideas. In most cases, we have the same mentality and we want to accomplish a lot of the same items, it’s just a matter of how. Ron is at a point where he just wants to be the owner which allows me to do something cool without having to go through a lot of the steps that he had to go through for 34 years by starting a business from nothing. There’s still plenty of room to grow the size of the organization.
The biggest thing I want to focus on is the organizational health and culture. I want people to view Liberty as an amazing place to work and I want customers to feel that from our staff and our team out in the field, that people really love being here. I think that’s magnetic and I think people want to do business with people they share their core values with. Liberty is in search of trying to build the perfect team that shares those core values but is also really strong, competitive, and wants to win.
We have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to try to do. We want to try to have a cohesive leadership team so we’re rowing in the same direction. The first 90 to 180 days we will be creating a vision of where the organization is headed. We’ll get a documented plan in place and work on bringing the right talent into the organization so that we can make sure we have the right people in the right seats.
What are some of the moves you’re looking to make?
Shawn Peterson: One of the things we want to have in our organization is even more transparency. That means having a company-wide meeting every month. We also want to have an employee recognition program to celebrate the people that have gone above and beyond in those past 30 days to keep reinforcing what we’re looking for in our core values. We also want to try and budget some funds so that teams can take trips together to do team building and bonding.
One of the things that I do with teams is personal goal setting, so that’s something we’ll get rolling with right away. I want to try to work with them to make sure that their goals align with them both personally and professionally.
Sixty-seven percent of employees are not currently engaged in their jobs. We need to make sure that we’re reminding people that what they’re doing is to benefit themselves in their personal lives.
GET TO KNOW SHAWN
Explain your role
My role within the organization is to cast a vision for Liberty to grow exponentially over the upcoming years. As the CEO, it is imperative that I communicate this clearly to the organization and ensure we live it out on a daily basis. Relationships with internal and external clients play a massive role in being successful as a leader. Much of my time is spent in five areas: Vision, People, Data, Issues, and Processes. When these are all in alignment, success is inevitable.
What made you excited about the role?
Liberty has a tremendous reputation and has everything in place to experience exponential growth. Many nights, it is a struggle to sleep because of the excitement I feel about the opportunities in front of our organization. The sky truly is the limit.
When you think of present competitive and dominant companies, what comes to mind when you think about how Liberty is or could be dominant in North Dakota in your industry?
Liberty has 34 years of positive client relationships. Our ability to add offerings that truly bring efficiency and add to the bottom-line of our clients will allow us to be dominant. Our understanding of business acumen will be what sets us apart moving forward. We don’t sell products, we sell solutions to business issues. Allowing ourselves to think outside of the current box or even industry box will be the biggest difference.
Tell us about your providers and partnerships
We partner with only world-class providers. This makes a huge impact on our service. Furthermore, Liberty has a huge focus on Customer-Centric Teams. Really, I prefer the word client as our goal is to build true partnerships that last the test of time with clients. We want to operate in your best interest to improve your organization and be a trusted advisor. Even if we do not offer the solution, we want to be the team you call to help with all business issues.
What are three things an average North Dakota business owner might find interesting or surprising about Liberty?
When I do business I always look for local ownership and local company structure first. Liberty is rare in our state in the fact that it’s always been locally owned and not made up of venture capital firms or transferred ownership. We really are your local providers. Most would not know that, in my opinion, we have the most beautiful showroom in the state of North Dakota.
An average owner may not realize that we can take over your entire print fleet and most likely save you money on your investment by doing it.
Most may believe we only sell or lease copiers. We actually offer many solutions that can literally automate a large percentage of your workflows.
Many people are resistant to sitting down and looking at the options because they do not want to feel pressured. We only expect you to do business with Liberty if it can be a win-win partnership. Take the time to sit down and do a painless analysis and in a majority of cases we can improve your situation. If not, we will help educate you.
WHAT ARE YOU READING?
Some of my favorites include:
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
Traction by Gino Wickman
The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick Lencioni
GET TO KNOW LIBERTY
Liberty Business Systems focuses on providing solutions to business problems or opportunities.
With over 35 years of experience, Liberty has built an organization around its core values to ensure the best possible experience for clients.
With 3,000 valued clients spread throughout North Dakota and Minnesota, Liberty is large enough to be backed by world-class vendors, yet local enough to have a family touch.
In recent years Liberty has been honored as a Circle of Excellence Award winner for the number one imaging provider in the world.
Liberty is leveraging Traction, which is also known as the Entrepreneurial Operating System or EOS. This helps give organizations a step-by-step road map to be successful. This brings the vision of the CEO into execution-able steps for the organization.