When EOS® Helps You Get Out of Business

Marc Levine
Mark levine

 

As a successful entrepreneur, Marc Levine spent countless hours thinking about his business, worrying about details large and small. All he ever wanted was to have a profitable business where employees liked working and customers wanted to patronize. Then a funny thing happened. When he achieved all that, he discovered he wanted out. Why the change of heart? 

Marc’s Entrepreneurial Start

To understand the trajectory of Marc’s passion, we have to go back to his roots. As a kid, he was surrounded by entrepreneurs. His father owned a trucking business that transported goods from his great-uncles’ and others’ plastic resins companies. Based out of Leominster, Massachusetts, his great-uncles were pioneers in the plastic resin business. They created things like combs and toys from material shipped from Shell, DOW, and Dupont in Texas.

“My cousins, everybody, was an entrepreneur,” Marc said. “I thought it looked so cool and I thought, ‘I’ve gotta do it.’ Did it ever enter my mind to get a job in corporate America or work for someone else? Sure. I thought about it and how I didn’t want to do it!”

After earning a marketing degree from The Ohio State University, Marc worked in the Bronx for his father’s business. Soon, Marc moved back to Leominster to run a warehouse for his father. The warehouse stored plastic resins received from producers in Texas until his father’s trucking business transported them to customers. 

Innovating a Field

When Marc received shipments of pelletized resin in bags from Texas, he recognized a huge waste problem. Marc saw serious issues with the way resin packaged in Texas got transported via boxcar to New England.

“Resin came ‘peeing out’ when we opened the boxcar doors because pellets aren’t made for transporting all that way via boxcar,” he said. “We convinced them to send it in bulk railcars so we could package on site here in New England and reduce waste. No one had ever done that before. They would send a hopper railcar and we would suck the resin up and bag and box it here. Then we’d store it in our warehouse until a customer called with an order, and my dad’s trucking company would ship it out all in a nice, neat package.”

The system worked so well that Marc’s big customers convinced him he needed to make the move to Houston. The feedstock (natural gas) needed to make plastic was right there under the ground, as was a huge untapped market for his goods. Instead of servicing the New England area, he would have access to customers worldwide.

His friends tried to convince him not to go. After all, things were going well. His father would retire in the next few years and he’d inherit the business. But he knew he had to go. If not, he’d label himself a coward. To paraphrase Tennyson, he figured: ’twill be better to drive to Houston and fail than not go at all.  

Needless to say, though starting slow at first, the business grew and grew. Once it hit a certain level, they started having problems getting their act together. Marc looked for ways to address what he couldn’t identify. He cycled through a series of business operating systems that just didn’t work for him, even declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

Marc called the bankruptcy-prompted reorganization the hardest thing he ever had to do in his career. Most small businesses fail within the first few years. Even fewer businesses survive after Chapter 11 reorganization. Marc vowed that wouldn’t happen to his business. Somehow they would survive.

Addressing Problems using EOS

Still reeling from the reorganization, Marc eventually learned about the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) through his Vistage chapter. Several members ran on EOS and more had started. Excitedly, Marc brought it back to his leaders. They politely scoffed at the latest “flavor of the day” business model, but he persisted. Only one thing terrified him. 

As part of implementing EOS, they would have to work through the Get It, Want It, Capacity to Do It (GWC) exercise. Their EOS Implementer® would conduct the GWC with everyone in the leadership team in the same room. He knew it would come out that the person in the president’s role did not GWC it. He hemmed and hawed, but finally decided he couldn’t be a coward anymore.

So they signed up. And when the leadership team went through the GWC, the president role had too many minuses. The wrong person —‚ his son — was in the wrong seat. The results devastated both father and son. Although his son was extremely smart, running a corporation was not his core competency.

“When he first came into the business, we made a deal to sit and figure out anything that wasn’t working,” Marc said. “But in the end, neither one of us raised our hand when things weren’t working. It messed up our relationship personally for years. All because I didn’t have the courage to address the problem long ago.”

Turning Around the Business

Working through this painful personal transition, the company started to turn around while implementing EOS. Profitability soared, employee spirits lifted, customers were happier, and Marc worked less.

Using the Delegate and Elevate™ Tool, Marc freed up his time to no longer constantly worry about business needs. He experienced massive success — everything he’d wanted for his company — and suddenly, ironically, he found that he was bored. 

It was then that he started to realize where his real passions lay: in fighting extremism, specifically anti-Semitism. He looked closely at the nonprofit organizations he could support and realized they faced many of the same problems as businesses do. Because nonprofits typically don’t pay well and the people there feel more connected to the purpose than running a business, he saw an opportunity to help nonprofits in Israel get the support they needed by connecting them to EOS Implementers. 

To devote himself to his new passion, Marc knew he needed to sell the business. It took him two or three years, but EOS made it easy. By everyone in the company dedicating themselves to EOS, he had all the metrics to show their positive trends, including profitability. Everything was recorded and easily accessible for potential buyers. In just a few short years, Marc went from bankrupt to benefactor.

This wasn’t the outcome Marc had envisioned when he first signed up with his EOS Implementer. Looking back to 1981 just before he decided to make the big move to Texas, an elder in his small town advised, “You need to know when to get in AND when to get out, Marc.” For Marc Levine, he’s never felt more fulfilled living The EOS Life®.

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