Met with a standing room only crowd of more than 250 attendees, CEO Jordan Papé launched the Randy Papé Oregon Advanced Strategy and Leadership Symposium, April 6, at the Lillis Business Complex with some insights from leading his fourth generation, family-owned business.
The newly named symposium provided a special opportunity for students and community members to learn and interact with iconic leaders in state-of-the-art sales and customer acquisition and engagement strategies. Lundquist College Dean Sarah E. Nutter and UO President Michael Schill provided opening remarks.
Symposium topics included leadership, business strategy, future trends, business model disruption, and the role of values in great organizations. Speakers joining Jordan Papé included NASCAR vice president of strategic communications David Higdon and Avamere Professor of Practice and former CEO of Patagonia Michael Crooke. The event was named in honor of Randy Papé "72, who grew The Papé Group Inc. into one of the largest privately held corporations based in Oregon, while also making a profound impact on his community and the University of Oregon through his philanthropy and leadership.
At the symposium, Jordan Papé explained that customer engagement is all about exceeding expectations. Customers use Papé's equipment to make money, he said, so delivering on the promise that “Papé keeps you moving" is essential. This includes fast-as-possible repairs to avoid downtime and providing complete project end-to-end equipment solutions.
Leaders of a growing enterprise must be also able to empower their people to make critical decisions, Papé noted. It ultimately enhances the business" reputation and keeps customers happy. In fact, Pape believes investing in deeper customer relationships is the key to repeat business.
Finally, once you build a business and make profit, “Your community is like your bank," Papé said, quoting his father and grandfather's expression. “You can't take more out of it than you put into it." Next up at the symposium was NASCAR's Higdon. His talk also mentioned relationship building as an essential element of success for NASCAR, which is also a family business. Higdon also serves on the college's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Advisory Board.
He said a big part of his job is “myth busting." For example, the stereotypical NASCAR fan is older, male, and lives in the southern United States. While some fans meet that criteria, Higdon said NASCAR aims to be the first gender-neutral major sport. The fact that two-thirds of the drivers at a recent combine event were female speaks loudly to this perception shift.
In that vein, Higdon cautioned that maintaining the status quo can result in your brand being left behind. Television used to be the be-all-and-end-all in sports, but no longer. While other sports leagues were trying to figure out how to keep television viewers, NASCAR invested in its digital offerings. Now, more fans follow and engage with NASCAR online than any other major sport league.
Drawing from his time at Yakima and Patagonia, Avamere Professor of Practice Michael Crooke rounded out the evening's presentation with an emphasis on principles. Crooke also shared insights from Scott Kerslake, founder and past CEO of Athleta and current CEO of prAna Living and the James F. and Shirley J. Rippey Professor of Practice at UO. Kerslake was scheduled to present but was unable to make the event due to an airline delay.
Crooke noted that multigenerational companies like The Papé Group and NASCAR are successful because they pass along their morals and ethics. Every choice must add value to your customer, he said. After presentations, the three industry leaders together answered some audience questions.
The packed house included faculty, staff, undergraduate students, graduate students, donors, members of the public, and local business leaders. The TAMID Group and UO Sales Club were the lead student groups facilitating the event.
“We are so pleased with the awesome student, faculty, and community engagement this event has ignited," Crooke said. “We are profoundly thankful to our speakers, The Papé Group, and the Papé family for bringing this symposium to life."
The concept for the Randy Papé Oregon Advanced Strategy and Leadership Symposium was born out of the Advanced Strategy and Leadership specialization of the Oregon MBA, which brings together, in a cross-disciplinary way, the business domains of finance, sustainability, entrepreneurship, and sports business (the four distinct curricular tracks of the Oregon MBA) into a holistic framework. The specialization brings together concepts and strategies that resonate best with the c-suite and the boardroom, grooming the next generation of effective CEOs. Fall 2017 is the start date for the new MBA specialization.