Executive Q&A with Gary E. Allison of Tri-State Industrial Group
Tri-State Industrial Group has grown from a two-man operation in the 1980s to a company of more than 200.
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Q: Why was it so important for you to keep your employees on the payroll even when they didn't have work to do?
A: If you find good people, you do whatever you can do keep them.
Q: Do you have a philosophy that has led your life or management style?
A: I could wrap it up in four very brief points: Work hard, manage your money, study diligently your industry and whatever you did today, and associate with people who do steps one, two and three.
Q: What do you like to do when you're out of the office?
A: I'm pretty fortunate that my wife and I like the same things. Mostly we get a kick out of the arts: musicals, the philharmonic, ballet.
Q: What is your favorite musical?
A: “Les Miserables” is my favorite and my wife's favorite. I judge a musical by how many of the songs engage you in the length of the musical. I also like “Phantom of the Opera”, “Cats”, “Big River”. I enjoy musicals. Don't tell the guys, but I also enjoy ballet and adore opera.
When I'd drove up to a drilling rig 30 years ago, I'd be listening to Beethoven. I'm always going, always doing. If I'm going to listen to something, I want it to be peaceful. I like the classics and the opera. I'm not a student of it. I can't even pronounce some of the names. I'm just an admirer.
Q: Can you tell us about your family?
A: I'm a one-month-old's grandpa. I have one daughter. Her mother passed away when she was very young from leukemia. My wonderful wife now is her mother. My daughter married my favorite son-in-law. I consider him not my son-in-law, but my son. He's the best.
Q: If you weren't running Tri-State, what would you be doing?
A: The most fun I've ever had at work was in the technical side. I loved fixing things. I loved going to a well when they were stuck on the bottom and everyone was in a panic, and I'd walk up and tell everyone to step aside. The most fun I ever had was as a troubleshooter.
Q: Did you take that “troubleshooting” mentality with you into management?
A: In business, you are daily fixing problems. It's not as clear as when you walk in and the motor's not running and when you walk out it is working. When you're dealing with humans it's more complicated. When a department is experiencing failure, hopefully I can walk in and walk out with a turnaround. Hopefully I've brought in people who will do that.
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