Today, we have a truly special guest in our virtual studio. He’s the driving force behind one of the most beloved pet supply stores, a leader who’s not just making waves in the business world but also in the hearts of animal lovers everywhere.

Join me in extending a warm welcome to the former CEO of That Fish Place – That Pet Place, the one and only Rick Amour! Rick now is semi-retired and chairman of the board and serves as the companies EOS implementor. He also is treasurer of the non-profit animal rescue, Centerville Pet Rescue.

Watch the episode above or listen over at Spotify. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next great servant leader’s story!

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Episode Transcript

Nicholas Paulukow
Welcome, dear listeners, to another episode of Servant Leader’s Library podcast, where we dive deep into the minds of remarkable leaders who prioritize service above all else. I’m your host today, Nicholas Paulukow, and we have a truly special guest in our virtual studio today. He’s the driving force behind one of the most beloved pet supply stores, a leader who’s not just making waves in the business world, but also in the hearts of animal lovers everywhere.

Join me in extending a warm welcome to the former CEO of That Fish Place, That Pet Place, the one and only Rick Amour. Rick is now semi-retired and chairman of the board and serves as the company’s EOS integrator. He is also a treasurer of the non-profit animal rescue Centerville Pet Rescue.

Now, everybody, That Fish Place, That Pet Place began in 1973 as a small aquarium store. Tens of thousands of people from all over the country and Canada shop today there in their 88,000 square foot facility located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 2015, the company was purchased by long-term employees, Rick and Chrystia Moore.

With the goal to continue to grow the business, the Leibowitz family had successfully established. The Moores then successfully added a group of longtime That Fish Place, That Pet Place employees to their ownership group to continue to refine the vision and offer what customers have expected from them over the last 50 years. Wow, that’s amazing.

So welcome, Rick. That’s an amazing story and what an amazing organization. We’re so excited to have you on the podcast today.

Rick Amour
Well, thanks, Nick. It’s great to be here.

Nicholas Paulukow
Yeah, it’s excellent. What an amazing story. So I understand I did a little homework on that you’ve been with the organization for 27 years.

Can you kind of give our listeners a little understanding? And now you own the organization, so that’s pretty amazing. You’re one of the owners, right?

And so can you give us an understanding of how you got started? What drove you to stay in the organization for so many years? Was it a great boss or leader?

Could you kind of give us all an understanding there?

Rick Amour
Yeah. So my college career was not stellar. Although I enjoy learning now, and in fact, I’ve realized over the years that learning is my primary driving force in life, but it was not in my college years.

So I struggled. I started as a computer science major.

Nicholas Paulukow
Oh, wow. I did not know that. That’s new.

I learned something new today.

Rick Amour
Yeah. Back in the 1980s, learning Fortran and COBOL and programs like that, that no longer exist. And after being on the dean’s list and the president’s list in my first semester, I was a college dropout by year three.

And I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just wasn’t sure. I jumped from major to major and was not very disciplined and didn’t know where I was headed in life.

I was young like so many that are employed at That Fish Place now. And I needed a job. Mom and dad said, if you’re going to stay here rent-free, you’re going to find a job.

So I did. And it was working on the sales floor at That Fish Place, That Pet Place. And I literally never left.

I have had the same job from dropping out of college as a, you know, or I want the same career at the same place. Yeah. For my entire life, practically.

Nicholas Paulukow
Wow. That’s amazing, though. I mean, you, you know, not a lot of us, right, aren’t necessarily meant for that college education.

You talk about like self-learning that you developed over your career. Right. But that’s pretty amazing.

You must have a lot of great talents and an ability to, you know, develop within such an organization. I mean, you came at an entry level. Like how did what what were you able to prove to be able to move up in the organization?

What what skills or abilities did you bring there?

Rick Amour
Well, you know, I said I did drop out of school, but I was always I was always focused on something.

Nicholas Paulukow

Rick Amour
It was just at that time the wrong thing. But once I started working there and I it was a really unique business, I knew nothing about the pet industry. And at that time, the aquatic industry and this business, you know, for what was supposed to be just a temporary job.

And it was a it was a family environment. So it was a it was a fun group of people. Let me just say that.

So those early days are some of my fondest memories. They started a great business and it was so successful and growing so quickly that I knew this was something special. And that’s when I got interested in learning how businesses run.

OK. It was never on my radar to to to want to have a business or manage a business. But I saw what was happening there and it really piqued my interest.

And I dove back into school. I eventually went back and got my bachelor’s degree and my MBA. Wow.

I saw the importance of I.T. in the future. And I so I my MBA is has an I.T. specialization, which will definitely paid off later in my career and after purchasing the business, I can tell you. But yeah, I just discovered the world of business and I was fascinated by it.

And it engaged me in a way. School in general just didn’t. And so it was great.

That’s what drew me in.

Nicholas Paulukow
That’s pretty cool, because a lot of us say, right, that the generations of kids kind of go into school right now, it’s kind of like everybody should go to college. But if you don’t necessarily know what you want or the passion you want to drive, you know, you kind of shown that right. You found your passion.

You went back and you got educated in those areas. I think that’s pretty amazing. It takes a lot of it takes a lot of determination, though, to do what you did, meaning kind of going from working back into the school.

So congratulations on that. That’s an amazing, amazing journey. Right.

Rick Amour
Yeah, it was. And I will. And back, you know, to I’ve listened to a few, a few of your other podcasts.

And, you know, there’s a theme and you hear it over and over again. And I know we’ll talk about servant leadership, but I’m they’re all so focused on on their continuing education, despite the achievements that they’ve all had. They continue to seek and learn and share.

And that’s what intrigued me about business and and having a career and owning my own, because, as you know, as a business owner, you’re in a small group of people that have certain goals in life and commonalities, although we may all do it a little differently. There’s a passion that underlies all those people. And learning is is just an element of that.

Nicholas Paulukow
That’s well said. It’s really well said and articulated because you’re right. It is the theme of like constant learning and the passion to not just accept the same right to make a difference.

One thing that was sounded really cool is we all talk about culture, but you you said, hey, this family business is really what drew me in. So that sounds like an intriguing culture. What what part of the family business right in our area?

We have a significant amount of family businesses and you hear a lot of struggles with transition into next generations. What made it so unique of a culture that you found that it empowered you?

Rick Amour
It was it was an energy, honestly. It wasn’t, you know, you could certainly it didn’t really have at back then in the in the 80s, you know, you didn’t really talk about company culture and and a mission and those things. So I would just call it an energy at that time because they didn’t define it.

How would I define it now? Yeah, probably that probably is an energy. It was so it was it was like everything that that you did back in the day.

Right. Because they were one of the first in that niche and they the founders saw an opportunity in the aquatic segment and no one was just doing, you know, aquarium fish and keeping. So they found this niche where it felt and this is to detract from what they accomplished, because it’s not that at all.

It’s that they found such a great niche and they knew how to to give those people what they wanted and wanted that it felt. And again, it was hard work, but it felt that everything you tried worked.

Nicholas Paulukow
Yeah, it was it was like gold, you know, at the time it was right.

Rick Amour
It was like, wow, OK, and now you had to manage that growth. And that’s right. That’s a challenge in itself.

But that that’s what really caught me in that that energy and that excitement around that growth was was addictive.

Nicholas Paulukow
It is neat, right? It’s like an energy. Yeah.


Rick Amour
And then and then later in your career, you you pine for those days.

Nicholas Paulukow
Well, I think it’s kind of I said to said to a mentor group of mine is I said, listen, like I was in the fire service and I said, man, just working with the people in the fire service. It’s such a family, like it’s such an energy and such a bond. And we’re all working towards the same thing.

How can I find that in business? And they all looked at me and said, you’re not like it’s a different bond, but there’s can be an energy and an excitement when it’s in the entrepreneurial kind of like building. But it’s interesting kind of to see now.

Do I have this right as a kid? You guys started at like was one of your locations at Park City at the mall.

Rick Amour
OK, so the founders were partners in. Yes, Dr. Pet Center.

Nicholas Paulukow
That’s right. Park City Mall.

Rick Amour
And that’s where he and Bernie Leibowitz and his wife, Sandy, they recognized the potential in just that aquatic segment. OK. And they developed direct by relationships with a lot of critical vendors at a time where you could do that.

And, you know, it was such a specialty segment that those manufacturers weren’t that large. And they really got in at the right time with an expanding market and and had had the the, you know, the gumption to go out there and take that risk and focus on that small segment and see what happened. And boy, they just really hit a home run at a home run.

Nicholas Paulukow
Yeah, it’s amazing. I mean, eighty eight thousand square feet now that that is like unheard of even today. Right.

Like I don’t think there’s any other pet or aquarium store that is of that size, is there?

Rick Amour
No, there’s one. There’s one in Germany that’s a little bigger. Oh, in Germany.

Nicholas Paulukow
Well, you got your market worked out.

Rick Amour
So, yeah, there is one place to my great disdain in Germany. That is because we used to say world’s largest pet store. Now we can’t.

Nicholas Paulukow
Oh, so you just have to put a little addition off the back, maybe, you know, a square foot.

Rick Amour
Don’t think we haven’t talked about it. So there there may be there may be some just just enough of a expansion coming.

Nicholas Paulukow
Oh, that’s amazing. What a what an amazing story. I and lastly, we’ll move on then kind of into some leadership items.

But it’s really neat to see a lot of how an entrepreneur operates. And what I think is really cool is to hear you explain that, like how they they sold that energy and really motivated and and evolved and developed so quickly in the market. I think it’s pretty interesting.

Myself being in the I.T. field, what we’ve seen is like the last 10 years have been explosive in developing. And now everybody’s kind of has technology. So now just selling or marketing or are working that type of business is completely different because everybody has someone.

Right. And 10 years ago, they didn’t. So relevant to where you were in your business.

And I’m sure that changes as well. You probably have more competition than you did before. But but it is fascinating.

One small tip for everybody years ago when I owned another company, I mowed the owners of the previous owner’s lawn. That that’s my claim to fame for That Fish. But I had the opportunity to learn.

I learned a lot, though. I learned I learned how generational businesses kind of transitioned and and learned and understood the difference between kind of the founder and the second generation. So there was a lot to learn, even though I was mowing the lawn.

I asked a lot of questions. So he probably got sick of me asking questions. But I learned a lot and understood about like vendors.

Right. You mentioned that earlier, like how to purchase and how to work with them was a really pivotal understanding for me as kind of getting the business to. Yeah.

Rick Amour
Yeah. And I will let you move on. I just want to wanted to say it’s it’s you know, I really have seen this business go from essentially a startup.

Yeah. And into a mature business and and saw the industry change over the years. And it that kind of insight is, you know, that’s the that’s the one thing that I don’t hear a lot because I haven’t been anywhere else.

I see being in the same business for that that amount of time, you know, only I imagine only an entrepreneur can really, you know, appreciate that. But but having seen a segment of a market from its from its infancy.

Nicholas Paulukow

Rick Amour
Through through to essentially a maturity 30 years later and how it’s all changed has been. Yeah. What what what has kept me in it so long?

Nicholas Paulukow
Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, that’s intriguing, though, you say that. And so what was your last position prior to then owning the organization?

Rick Amour
So I was CEO prior. OK, so essentially in US terms, which I know you’re in the US company, and I hope that it does.

Nicholas Paulukow
That’s the next good.

Rick Amour
Yeah. If it didn’t, I was going to force it on you, Nick. So, yeah, I lost track of my thought there.

Oh, from the CEO. So I was essentially an integrator for the prior owner. He was very much the visionary type.

And had I known that at the time, you know, it would have been interesting to try and implement EOS because he was he was the visionary type. And, you know, it didn’t we didn’t recognize those roles at the time and their importance. And it would have been interesting to see how that would have.

Nicholas Paulukow
And it’s fair to say that that was the second generation. Right. So you’re saying that that even the second generation came with a lot of vision as well.

Rick Amour
Yes. Yeah.

Nicholas Paulukow
That’s pretty unique, too. Right.

Rick Amour
Yeah. And they because they had to transition. And that’s when the other pets came in that that second generation was responsible for getting us into those into the other pets out of the you know, not out of aquatics, but also incorporating the other pet categories into the business.

Nicholas Paulukow
OK, so they kind of, as they would say, the next 10 X jump came from adding the kind of the next components. That’s pretty cool. That’s pretty amazing because we see a lot of generational businesses and sometimes the second generation or third kind of maintains it.

It doesn’t it seems a little bit less active in taking the risk to kind of jump and do anything overly risky. You mentioned that earlier, like that, that the founder kind of really took a lot of risk.

Rick Amour
And so did that second generation.

Nicholas Paulukow
Really? That’s amazing.

Rick Amour
Yeah. What what really made it. And so essentially we it was that it was coming into that transition to a third generation.

And when we acquired the business and it had a lot of challenges at the time, it was, you know, it’s another period in time where e-commerce was exploding. Cloud based technologies were new. We you know, we were one of the first companies in our industry, certainly maybe anywhere that was jumping into the cloud on an ERP level.

Wow. And we did that in 2009, I believe. So we were an early adopter of cloud technologies.

There were some headaches with it, but there were a lot of challenges at the time that I think just that next generation, it got very technical, the business. And they just felt like that that was the time. So we were able to acquire it and help through that transition period.

Nicholas Paulukow
OK, that’s pretty amazing. That’s awesome, though, from the standpoint of, you know, founder, second generation, and then you as the CEO, you know, taking ownership and then you continue to grow it as well. So knowing you, you’ve kind of made some leaps and bounds.

So we’ll get into that US part now. Right. So you use the term or during our intro, we said, hey, that you’re the EOS integrator.

So for listeners that don’t understand what that means, you know, give us an understanding what the integrator is from your perspective and kind of a little bit about the US model, maybe where you found some success within that model.

Rick Amour
Yeah, maybe this is where I should tell my story now. I will. And I apologize to your listeners, because I’m going to try and make this quick.

But it’s I will just say that when I met Nick, we were looking for our IT services for our business. And at the same time, it was the point where Chrissy and I, my wife, when we bought the business, we said we’d give it five years. And then we’re going to decide what we want to do, because I’ve been doing this for a long time.

So the plan was, let’s see how it goes for five years. And then we’ll decide what to do with it. So we had decided that we wanted to bring the employees on that had helped us to turn things around and go through a difficult period, transition to business.

And so we knew that was always kind of part of our plan, our exit strategy. But there was a piece missing. And I didn’t know what it was.

And I was trying to find it. And I don’t know if anyone out there is familiar with the Duran series of books on quality management. But you got to remember, this was a guy who still was fairly fresh from his MBA and thought there was only one way to do things.

And that was Duran’s quality handbook. And if those that aren’t familiar with it, I’m sure everyone’s familiar with total quality management and those types of things. And this is a 1,000-page manual that is everything from basic quality management, good leadership practices, to some pretty heavy analytics and Kaizen events, and those of you that might be black belts out there.

And I forgot what it’s called. You’ve got to forgive me. But the ISO 9000A, all those quality level things, they’re glazing over.

I’m going through this book with my executive team. And they’re glazing over. And the whole reason I was doing this was because I wanted them to have the same skill set that I felt like I had in order to run the business so that I didn’t have to worry about it and they had what they needed to be successful.

So I was trying to create, I was trying to simplify this very complex manual into some simple good practices to follow. And one of those things all along was having a strong culture and a mission. And we worked on that from the very beginning when we acquired the business.

So we had a good foundation. But I needed that next set of tools. So I was out looking for, and I’m almost done.

I was looking for those IT services. And mission and culture was important to me. So that’s how I found one-to-one in Nick’s company, was you had a real strong sense of culture and it came through your website.

I could feel it from what I was reading there. It was important to you. And I thought, well, this is a good fit for us.

So you came out and I kind of told you our situation and that I was looking for some kind of tools. And I think I even showed you that Duran book. You know, as it thudded down on the table, you laughed.

And you started telling me about EOS. And EOS is exactly what I was looking for. It took all those amazing things I read and learned in Duran and my MBA, and it boiled it down to such a simple to use philosophy and set of tools that I knew that was it.

I’m like, this is it. I read, you said, read traction. And I got a copy of traction and I read it the next day.

I was like, this is it. And of course, they’re all looking at me like I’m crazy again. Here I spent the last three months trying to introduce them to this crazy Duran handbook that I know they thought I was nuts.

And now all of a sudden I got this new thing and they’re thinking, oh, this is just some new thing.

Nicholas Paulukow
Here goes Rick again.

Rick Amour
But I have to tell you, Nick, and I can’t thank you enough for it. Here we are over two years later and we are using EOS religiously. I mean, we are just following every aspect of that as well as we could, I think.

And the buy in from the executive team has just been amazing. And so I owe you that and I still owe you a dinner. Oh, I can’t wait.

So we have to do that. But yeah, for those that don’t know, EOS just really, I mean, to me, provides you a set of tools where I was looking to transition out of the business. So if there’s anybody out there that’s thinking about transitioning their business, it’s a process.

It takes a number of years. Ours took a lot of time to just fix the business and get the right culture in place. EOS was what finished it off.

It gives you a set of just good tools to utilize in your business and make sure that things are running the way they should. Gives everybody a voice. And it really is just it’s an MBA on paper or a website or an app that you can use on your phone.

And it just keeps you focused on the right things.

Nicholas Paulukow
That’s well said. I think it’s so funny, right? I remember the day that your team was there, right?

And we got into this conversation and I think we started talking and they’re looking going, I thought this guy was here for like IT services, but we haven’t talked about IT services yet, right? And then we followed up and chatted and you’re like, wow, like you executed already. He’s like, oh yeah, my first rock is to onboard you.

And I was like, wow, you guys executed. It felt like in like two days, right? Like, I mean, you guys, that’s amazing story, but that’s so impressive on how quickly you were able to, no pun intended, integrate that into your business.

And you’re absolutely right. I think we found the same thing, right? Where you take that MBA language and bring it down to all the way to the level, to the most entry level doer to be able to connect with the organization in a way that we could never, you know, we tried all these tools and tactics and this is just a simple way, simple in the terms of it takes energy and time, but simple way to educate and empower everyone, which I’m super happy for.

I’m so excited. I’m kind of a little jealous, like, right? Rick hits EOS, he executes as the integrator and then all of a sudden has an employee owned company, semi-retired, all this kind of stuff.

And I’m like, man, I’m doing something wrong here. Like this guy, this guy is killing it. So I’m here today to learn from him.

So I think, I think we all should listen up a little bit more, right? A journey through an entrepreneur.

Rick Amour
Don’t, don’t, don’t count on me too much.

Nicholas Paulukow
Plenty of flaws though. Well, I appreciate you, you sharing that, you know, we’re the whole thing that we talk about and we find a trend, right? And you said it earlier, but you know, for, for those that are listening, that might be new in leadership, we, we use this term servant led leadership.

I mean, from your perspective how or what does that mean to you? I mean, and how does that align to kind of your core values?

Rick Amour
Yeah. So when I, you know, and I was, I had, like I said, listened to some of your podcasts and, and, and, you know, I thought about this quite a bit. So for me, anytime I, I guess I’m trying to define something for myself, I look at the antithesis.

So what’s the antithesis here of a servant leader, right? They’re, you know, they’re a dictator. They’re, you know, top-down leadership.

You know, they’re, they’re domineering. They’re critical. They, you know, they’re, if something goes right, they take credit, right?

If something goes wrong, they want to know who to blame or who to fire. Right. So I think we know those leaders to me, servant, servant leaders are the opposite of that.

You know, they’re, they’re, they’re putting, putting the spotlight on, on others. They’re challenging them with, you know, tasks and, or in RKEOS terminology, rocks, right? Important, important things that are going to move the company forward, you know, and trusting them with that responsibility and not micromanaging them through it.

You know, give, giving regular feedback, you know, really, really sitting down and being able to number one, listen, which is something I’m not good at. And I’ve really been working at. That’s, that’s, you know, again, not to, not to keep going back to EOS, but you know, one of the things that you do during your, your annual is you give something that they’re, one of, one of the other people is good at, right.

And, and, or, you know, or excels that and, and it’s something they could be better at. Right. So mine has always been listening.

I don’t listen enough. So I’ve been trying to be better about that, but that is, it’s a critical element of, of servant leadership. And that’s, that’s the piece I certainly struggle with.

I don’t listen enough. But you’re, you’re really focused on others, right. Trying to meet their needs, whether it’s, whether it’s your, your employees or your customers, but you’re, you’re focused on delivering for them first and above all.

And in our case, pets, right. Yeah.

Nicholas Paulukow
That’s so well said. That’s so well said on how you articulated that. Right.

You kind of took what would be not a servant leader and what is, and that’s pretty amazing. I mean, you have a unique ability though, as, as the owner of retail, right? So retail, I can imagine is quite a bit different, right?

I mean, you have a leadership team that might be established, but then you have a lot of staff that come and go, they’re in high school or, or other areas. How have you found that like EOS or other things have allowed them to get involved? Like, how do you get somebody that’s part-time involved in the mission and vision?

Like, how do you lead them through that? I’m very curious because that’s gotta be difficult.

Rick Amour
It is extremely difficult. And we’re constantly trying to figure out how we can do better there. So what we, what we do is do what we haven’t done before and focus on what we can do with those people that do.

They’re, they’re transient. Some of them come and go, right? College students, they’ll, they’ll work, you know, maybe summer break or the opposite.

They’ll work during school and then summer break, they go home. So it’s, it’s difficult to connect with them sometimes. But we have our all hands meeting quarterly that they attend company events.

We really try and do a lot of reach out internally. We have a full-time trainer and that the trainer is one of our owners. And so he spends a lot of time, not just teaching them about the product or the services, but teaching principles of EOS and making sure they understand what the people analyzer is, which is just a way of evaluating people to make sure they’re a good culture fit.

We use that extensively. So really we focus on the culture portion of it. If they can learn, you know, and, and get some tools, whether they use them, you know, at our business or in college or somewhere else.

Wonderful. So we just try to give them an introduction to what, what a good first time job looks like and, and not worry too much about the rest. Maybe they’ll, maybe they’ll come back.

Certainly. Maybe they’ll, they’ll feel good about the experience and that’s good for us. So we’re happy about that.

Nicholas Paulukow
You do use a key word that probably many businesses that don’t run in the U.S. really talk about it too much. You use the word core values, right? So like that’s really apparent.

I mean, I shop at the store, right, personally. So when I go in, the people know the product and service, but they’re also passionate about it. Right.

I mean, you know, we have a young lady in our office named Pam. My goodness. I think she was on like one of your Christmas cards with their dog.

Like, I mean, she’s like living and dreaming this pet life. You know what I mean? And she appreciates how excited everybody else is that works there.

That must be some level of core value. I don’t know. So I mean, how do you infuse that or it’s gotta be so difficult though.

Cause our job report just came out today, right, that I was reading for our industry and it says the biggest item that every executive or CEO is working on right now is hiring talent. And geez, I mean, do you use core values to select those people or is it like, oh man, there’s a breathing person in front of me. I better figure out how to hire them, right?

Rick Amour
Well, sometimes it feels that way, but we’ve learned that if you don’t hire based on culture, if they’re not first and above all a culture fit, do not. We would rather have the vacant position, vacant seat, than have a wrong culture fit. So we absolutely hire based on culture.

We are fortunate because to your point, they love pets and that’s what attracts them to us. So it makes it a little easier probably than for a lot of other companies when it comes to hiring in that people are so passionate, back to your point about pets, that it does drive some good people our way. So we’re fortunate in that respect, but we struggle like any other business to get help.

And so it is a challenge, but absolutely culture has to remain key when it comes to hiring decisions.

Nicholas Paulukow
I think that’s well said. I think too, do you find that you have a higher retention rate then with employees? Maybe that aren’t just the college students, but do you find since you implemented EOS, do you have a higher employee retention rate for that reason?

Yeah, we do.

Rick Amour
And we’ve actually reduced, and I’m going to get this number wrong, and I apologize to our HR team, I think about a 38% reduction. And I know that sounds specific for guessing, but I’m pretty sure it’s around there, reduction in our turnover rate since we’ve been using culture to hire and fire and making the changes via EOS and giving them a voice in the business has really made a difference and more transparency. All those things have contributed to improving our turnover.

Nicholas Paulukow
Those are amazing numbers, right? So anybody that’s in your business is probably going, I am jealous. I’m going to Google this EOS thing, right?

But I mean, it takes effort. You’ve put a ton of effort in to doing that, and you should be commended because that is absolutely amazing. You talked about empowerment too.

What initiatives do you drive or take part in to empower those entry level employees all the way up to people maybe that will start maybe a supervisory role or whatnot? What tools or tips can you give the listeners on how you’re utilizing EOS to empower them as well?

Rick Amour
Yeah. So one of the key elements of EOS is really just having that regular interaction with everyone. So we have more touch points, I think, with our people than we used to.

We have a measurable that we utilize both for our internal and external customers. Our employees, our fellow team members, as well as the customers that we have to be aware of. So we have a 5-10 rule.

Basically, when you’re within 10 feet of someone, you’re at least aware that they’re there. And when you’re within five feet, you greet them, say hello. So we try and encourage interaction.

And then there’s always some opportunity because the turnover, certainly better, is still fairly high. So opportunities do arise. And those that see it, recognize it after a while.

We have a supervisor in training positions. So you’re kind of on deck. So that’s where you get a little more access.

You start attending more intense L10s. We do do meetings for everyone throughout the company, but they’re generally not a full-on L10. And I apologize for anyone who’s not familiar with an L10.

I mean, it’s a weekly 90-minute meeting, essentially. So we don’t have the convenience of being able to take someone from the cash register and put them in a 90-minute meeting. So we do short meetings.

So they get at least a voice. It’s a reduced agenda, but it gives them a voice. So yeah, we try and give them opportunities and certainly at least a voice within the company.

And I think that certainly is a benefit and help.

Nicholas Paulukow
You know, that’s amazing, though, the intentional focus that you put on that. That’s a really cool measurement, right? Like we all look at dollars and cents and you’re measuring kind of that interaction, right?

It goes along with an employee, but also goes along with your retail customer that’s there, right? So everybody says like what’s measured has success. So that’s pretty cool.

I learned something that’s really neat. And I think others that are in your business should take that as a something to pay attention to, right? Like they seem to measure more at the leadership level, but are they measuring all the way down in the organization?

When you implemented EOS, what were some key things that you identified that maybe you needed to improve, right? Or something that you’re willing to share with the group that will help someone that’s kind of going through a similar journey?

Rick Amour
I wouldn’t even know where to begin, Nick. It seemed like a never-ending waterfall of things we could do better. Well, as you know, you do a company rating at the beginning of the process, and then you do it each year to evaluate how you advance.

Well, I think we went from a 20 on a scale of 0 to 100 to I think 80 in the first year. Wow. So to me, that just says how much we were able to take advantage of, and it had a direct impact on things.

So you can talk, for example, you can talk data, and you can talk reporting, or you can talk scorecards, and you can focus on just the things that matter the most rather than trying to figure out what matters, right? That’s one of the great things I got out of EOS because I’m a data guy, right? And I’ll give myself analysis, paralysis, and I’ll go down the wormhole as far as it leads.

And if there’s even the slightest fraction impacting the result, I’ll obsess over that rather than focusing on the big number, right? I’m in the decimals. And so anyway, it forced you to decide what number really matters, you know, what number matters and what number matters so much that you have to watch it weekly, you know, so you can react weekly.

Right. Yeah.

Nicholas Paulukow
So it’s more of like learning about what’s the leading indicator instead of a lagging one, right? Like we all look and say, hey, did we make any money this month? Well, that that already happened.

So what I think I’m hearing from you is you’re like, hey, listen, if we measure it, we can then change the outcome before the end of the month. Right. And that’s pretty cool.

How do you what are maybe some outcomes like at the retail level, like a cashier or whatnot? Like what do they measure?

Rick Amour
Yeah, so they’re measuring primarily the amount of customers that they’re capturing their information. So email, email, email captures, things like that. OK.

They all down there, they’ll primarily focus on on the 510 rule, you know, even a cashier, recognizing when there’s a customer queuing up in line, calling them to the register, you know, that that interaction, but it’s focused on that interaction. But certainly we like to capture customer addresses because if we can market to that customer, we know they’ll continue to shop and we can notify them of events and things like that. So.

Nicholas Paulukow
OK, that’s awesome. Well, could kind of changing subjects slightly, like what advice would you give to other CEOs or leaders who are kind of interested in adopting kind of the servant leadership approach? Right.

Because some come some you mentioned earlier, like those ones that dictate they just feel like, well, if I don’t tell them what to do, it’ll never get done. Right. And you use the approach of like servant leadership is about kind of like coaching and mentoring.

You know, what advice would you give those that are listening, you know, on the benefits or even maybe how it even applies to you as a retail organization? You know, because some would say, well, listen, Rick, you’re only going to have that employee for like three months. Like why are you putting all this effort into them?

But it seems like there’s a lot of benefit to it from what I’m hearing.

Rick Amour
You know what I think it is? I think there’s a lot of personal benefit in it. I enjoy it.

It makes you feel good. If you have to work at it, maybe you shouldn’t even, you know, you got to think about it, I guess. If you’re not attracted to the idea of impacting someone else and their life, I don’t think you can learn that.

I don’t think you can make yourself desire that. So, you know, first and foremost, make sure, you know, the desire is there because you’re going to have to think about putting the other people ahead of yourself.

Nicholas Paulukow

Rick Amour
Which isn’t natural for a lot of entrepreneurs and business leaders. You know, are you willing, is it always about the money? Is it always about the revenue or is some of it about the people?

And, you know, that leads to better things for you, honestly. You spend that time and you’re willing to invest in your people and you’ll benefit as well. So, you know, certainly there’s that, but don’t do it for that reason.

If you’re doing it for that reason, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. This isn’t just another way to make money or another approach to leadership. I think you have to be kind of drawn to it and want to reap the rewards of helping others.

You know, I’ve been lucky, you know, I mean, I feel like a lot of luck’s involved. So why not, you know, share some of the reward a little bit and, you know, spend some time or effort on helping them achieve what you’ve been able to achieve. And I think that’s a noble goal.

So if you’re doing it for that reason, you’re doing it for the right reason. And then there’s tons of great things like your podcast you can listen to.

Nicholas Paulukow
To learn more.

Rick Amour
To learn more, yeah. But make sure you really want to, this is essentially the calling that you have right now.

Nicholas Paulukow
Yeah. I think you said a really great statement there, many statements, but one that really triggered me was, you know, that you do it for not yourself, right? So like that’s the true definition, I feel, of a leader, right?

One that’s doing it. Now that I’m leading, it’s not about me anymore, it’s about them. And so how am I going to do that?

And then the second thing that reminded me is, is we all, prior to getting on today, I said, hey, have you read US Life? And right, so my 2024 goal is to kind of concentrate more on that, right? And it says doing what you love with people you love, making a huge difference and being compensated appropriately with the time that you have now for other passions.

And you are like, you are like the vision of that. I think it’s so cool, right? Like, you have so much passion and love for the people that you work with and that you drive towards.

You can just hear it in your voice, which is, I think, a really empowering leader. And people want to follow people like that. So kudos to you.

And it’s neat to hear the difference that you’re making. I think you started earlier by saying, hey, one of the owners, right? So like you went from working in a business, taking ownership to now making other owners like that made probably a huge difference in their lives too.

And now gives you maybe a little bit more freedom to do the passions that you love. So, you know, kudos on the EOS Life. I think everybody strives for that.

Although it takes a lot of work just doesn’t happen overnight. But tell us a little bit about like that journey. Like, what drove you to making other owners in the organization?

Rick Amour
You know, really, it was, you kind of realized, I kind of realized how lucky I’d been. And not just in having a group of people, really, that were willing to stick it through what, you know, was a difficult transition period. I see.

And they earned it. You know, I felt like, you know, they really earned it. And this isn’t just a paycheck thing.

They’re as passionate about this business as I am. Chrissy felt the same way. And we decided we had to make that happen somehow.

So yeah, we were just thankful for what they had done to help us get the business to where it was and wanted to give them the same opportunity.

Nicholas Paulukow
That’s amazing. I mean, you’re that’s amazing. I mean, many people that would be in your position are like, finally, I own it.

Like, I’m not going to give it up. And you you immediately went to kind of this go giving mentality, which I think is really what ends up being the the result, right? Like the sustainable, positive change, which I think is really amazing.

You’re very unique in that many people that I talked to are just like, you know, I can’t give it up. I spent all this time. And you’re saying, hey, these people, you know, rode the wave with me.

They deserve it. So you deserve a lot of kudos. That’s amazing.

Well, thanks.

Rick Amour
Yeah, that that or maybe it’s just been I’ve been doing this for 30 years and you’re done.

Nicholas Paulukow
Oh, goodness. Well, well said there, too. So you started our conversation about like always learning, right?

You said that you started a college, stopped, you started learning again, went back to school. So for all those that are listening, is there any specific books or learning tools that you found were impactful? Because there’s a lot of people that that I hear many times are like, well, I’ve been working somewhere so long I should just be a manager.

Right. And when they realize that they don’t understand what a manager is, right, they really get stunned by like, well, it’s not about me. Like, no, it’s not.

It’s about the people you lead. So I find it’s really impactful to kind of learn, you know, maybe some things that you could share by any of the reading or resources.

Rick Amour
Yeah. Well, I mean, I’m probably going to name the things that everybody else always names, you know, seven habits.

Nicholas Paulukow
Oh, that’s a good one.

Rick Amour
Is a great book.

Nicholas Paulukow

Rick Amour
Of course, anything by Jim Collins or Lencioni, big fan. Gino Wichman, of course.

Nicholas Paulukow
Oh, yeah.

Rick Amour
But I mean, all those are great books. There’s a lot of great leadership books out. I can’t think of any others offhand, but those are the big ones.

Personally, I have a lot of interests. And one of the things I like to do is use news aggregators, like I’ll use like a flipboard app and then it pulls information based on different categories and things. Oh, that’s cool.

That’s a neat one. Yeah. And then what I’ll do is I’ll take one of the categories and I’ll rotate it once a month.

So I’ll pick something that maybe I’ve never had any interest or, you know, any exposure to and I’ll plug it in there and then I’ll just learn something new about it for a month. And you’d be surprised how many times you’ll find something in there that resonates or be like, well, wait a minute. OK, well, they’re doing that in that industry.

Why couldn’t we do something similar? So that I like to do. So I try and read a lot of different things.

I’m like, you know, I can do a little bit of a lot of things, but I can’t do any one thing really well.

Nicholas Paulukow
Well, you know that that’s what we all do, right? We’re leading. We’re trying to gather information and try to disseminate it and send it down to the team.

So I think that’s well said. That’s it. I’m going to take that one as a tip.

I’m going to I’m going to learn from that one. That’s pretty cool. As we kind of wrap up here, Rick, is there any parting feedback you’d like to give the listeners or anything that you feel would be pertinent to them?

Rick Amour
No, I think I’ll just say that I think, you know, servant leadership is a is a noble pursuit. It’s certainly well worth the time and effort. It’ll pay back to you a thousand times over by just, you know, connecting with a few few people over the years, even if that’s the limit of your impact, it can really make a difference for people.

So I think it’s wonderful that you’re doing a podcast about this and and giving a voice to servant leadership and bringing some of these guests on that that can give some insight into their experience. And hopefully it leads to some more servant leaders out there.

Nicholas Paulukow
Now, that’s well said. Thank you, Rick. We appreciate you very much.

And everyone, as that that wraps up or another fantastic episode of Servant Leader’s Library, I’m your host, Nicholas Paulukow, and our esteemed guest, Rick Amour, the former CEO of That Fish Place, That Pet Place. Rick, thank you for sharing your insight and experiences in the world of servant leadership and for reminding us all that leading with servant at the forefront can truly make a splash in our industry, even the world of fish and pets. Listeners, remember to tune in next time for more inspiring conversations and valuable lessons on servant leadership.

Until then, lead with kindness, serve with passion and always strive to make a positive impact wherever you go. This is Nicholas Paulukow signing off. Take care, everyone.

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