Some called it the “put up or shut up” resolution. All members of Contractors 2000 — an organization formed to elevate members to high performance in sales, profits and customer satisfaction — had been basking in a unique selling proposition that labels the group “Simply The Best.”

But financial reports show that not every member lives up to the billing. Many continue to operate at what C-2000 regards as a minor league level. Under-performers force the organization to direct too many resources at remedial business assistance at the expense of developing more sophisticated management tools. So they asked members to approve mandatory minimum performance standards as a condition of membership, and they did.

The vote took place at the organization’s 12th “Super Meeting” held September 18–20, 1997 in New Orleans. The minimum standards are decorated with asterisks to accommodate special circumstances, but basically provide for the following —

  • Owners’ salary and net profits before taxes must equal at least $55,000 + 5 percent of total sales for companies with under $500,000 in annual revenues.
  • Firms in the $500,001 to $1.65 million volume range must produce $55,000 + 9.6 percent of sales over $500,000, plus 5 percent of total sales in combined profit and compensation dollars.
  • For companies larger than $1.65 million in revenues, the minimum standard is $165,000 + 5 percent of total sales.

Effective at year-end 1997, members must produce a financial statement or letter from a CPA testifying that they have met the minimum standards. Those who fail to meet the standards two years in a row will be compelled to terminate membership unless they enroll in an approved business mentoring program.

The minimum standards resolution was coupled with a companion resolution that would have required members falling short to submit to mandatory mentoring by a new consulting organization, Business Management Mentors (BMM), formed for that purpose by C-2000 members George Brazil and Alex McNeely. Voting on this resolution resulted in a tie and was sent back to the Board of Directors. Before they could recommend further action, the BMM principals decided to forego further controversy by allowing the BMM program to proceed on a voluntary rather than mandatory basis.

Fond Farewells: “Super Meeting XII” was the last one presided over by popular executive director Jack Tester, who is departing to form a national service organization with four C-2000 members. In his annual report, Tester noted that membership was at an all-time high of 240 members, despite continued raiding of the C-2000 ranks by the national consolidators. He expressed satisfaction that the organization had settled into “routine delivery” of an immense number of member services.

The departure of Tester, along with four present or former Board members involved in the same venture, would be a cause for hand-wringing in many organizations.

Acting president Brad Martin demolished any fears in a President’s report in which he saw the departure of so many members as a sign of C-2000 fulfilling its mission. Citing the C-2000 motto, “Success Through Education and Sharing,” Martin encouraged members to take pride and joy in belonging to an organization that helped make their colleagues become so successful that they are targets of attractive takeover bids. “We must respect their decisions to sell. They remain our friends, and we wish them well in all their endeavors,” he said.

Frank Blau, chairman of a committee empowered to find Tester’s successor, reported on an exhaustive search that entailed ads in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune, along with member recommendations. He said that two strong candidates had already surfaced to date, and that the Board had empowered the Search Committee to recommend as few or as many candidates to them for consideration by mid- to late October. By the time this appears in print, C-2000 may already have hired or at least identified its new executive director.

Blau, a PM columnist for over a decade, received one of the most unusual and moving tributes this reporter has ever seen. At the closing banquet, President Martin presented Blau with a customary gift plaque upon conclusion of his two-year term on the Board of Directors. Speaking to an audience of more than 300 people, Martin invited everyone among them who had been helped by Frank Blau over the years to come forward toward the podium.

A vast majority of the seats emptied as people surged forward as at a rock concert. Then a thunderous, sustained ovation arose, the likes of which this reporter had never before witnessed at any business event.

New Leaders: Newly elected to the Board of Directors were: Scott Nelson (Laney’s Inc., Fargo, ND); Rusty Quarles (Banks Quarles Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Inc., Tuscaloosa, AL); Anthony Vigilante (Vigilante Plumbing & Heating Co., Brooklyn, NY); Kathy Love (Gene Love Plumbing Service, W. Columbia, SC); George Brazil (George Brazil Services, Yorba Linda, CA) and John Ward (Applewood Plumbing & Heating, Denver, CO).

Elected as Chairman and President was Juan Cardona (JC Heating & Cooling, Cross Lanes, WV), serving the second year of his two-year term. Elected Vice President was Brad Martin (Scottco Service Co., Amarillo, TX), also serving out his two-year term. The other holdover Board member is Mike Veresh (Ferguson-Veresh Inc., Wichita Falls, TX).