Tucker Publishing Group collaborated with Dr. Marie Bussing, assistant professor of economics at the University of Southern Indiana College of Business, to give 30 students in her Economics 631 Money and Banking, an upper level class of juniors and seniors, an opportunity to be published in Evansville Business. Students were asked to write about a topic they thought would be of interest to others in the field of banking. Kelsey Elpers, who recently graduated from USI, was selected for her profile on Larry May at Keller Schroeder.
A CFO asks his CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people, and they leave the company?” The CEO answers, “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?” When I heard this quote, I instantly thought of Larry May, president of Keller Schroeder.
Keller Schroeder is an employee-owned company (via an ESOP, or Employee Stock Ownership Plan) in the Evansville area that provides physical infrastructure such as software and networks, applications for software, and technical staffing upon contract. The team-oriented company has 85 employees.
Being a president or CEO of a company can be a challenging task, since most employees see that person as the person who orders them around from day to day. However, employees at Keller Schroeder seem to think quite differently. May is a well-respected person in the community, and treats his employees as if they are all equally important. May does not even have his own private office; he has a cube, like most other employees at Keller Schroeder. He jokes that he has an “open-door” policy, even though he has no door.
“Company culture is always an important success factor in business,” says May. “But in our business, the only competitive edge we can offer is our people. So what we are most proud of is the way our people care for each other and make this a great place to work. When people are cared for in the right way, it gets passed through to our customers being cared for in the right way.”
One employee, who has only been at Keller Schroeder for a month, says she is already anxious to help others because of the amount of teamwork within the company. Keller Schroeder promotes career advancement, which is why the company invests so much in its employees. There are three qualities that Keller Schroeder encourages in employees: personal growth, spiritual growth, and professional growth.
A unique benefit for employees is that the Keller Schroeder is an ESOP, with the employees owning 60 percent of the company. This allows Keller Schroeder to retain employees for a longer period of time than many companies. This also helps clients, since Keller Schroeder employees have considerable skills and experience. The ESOP also allows Keller Schroeder to minimize the high cost and negative impact of turnover, recruitment, and training of new staff members, which contributes to client retention.
Transparency between employees and their managers is an important part of Keller Schroeder’s culture, as all staff members are encouraged to give both positive and constructively critical feedback on a regular basis.
Quoting an old Wheaties breakfast cereal tag line, May says, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
May serves as both president and CFO, and has other account management responsibilities. His role includes leadership within the company, financial oversight, and marketing and client relationship work. May also is involved with the IT Alliance at the University of Southern Indiana College of Business, which is a group of industry leaders who collaborate and help maintain an up-to-date curriculum and provide student internships. Keller Schroeder also sponsors a scholarship at the Romain College of Business. Also, several Keller Schroeder employees frequently speak in classes at the University of Southern Indiana and serve as adjunct faculty at other area educational institutions.
May sees the industry growing exponentially. New technologies are being developed constantly, and with experienced, loyal employees who have a stake in the company’s ownership, Keller Schroeder is poised to take full advantage of new opportunities.
“No one doubts the IT industry is growing, but it is evolving and changing faster than it is growing,” says May. “If we are to remain competitive, we will have to diversify our revenues in new ways. That requires more than a few ideas from top management. We depend on an engaged workforce that thinks like owners — what we call an ‘ownership culture’ — to ensure that we remain viable and relevant in our marketplace.”
For more information about Keller Schroeder, call 812-474-6825 or visit kellerschroeder.com.