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Neal Magaziner & Hughes Enterprises
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"In August, we brought on a vice president of sales. I got to the point where I saw all the things I was doing had really stretched me to the limit, and I wasnt performing up to my standards. So I decided to back out and get a little bit of help. Our VP of sales is now able to focus on the sales end of the business, which allows me to focus more on the operations end of the business.

"If you go back five years, everything that happened in this business crossed my desk and Stephens desk. Today, we have a middle management team and they direct the groups under them. Its been a very positive thing because theyre more in touch with customer service issues, and it relieves us to be able to focus on longer term strategic issues instead of being grounded in the day-to-day tactical operations.

"Stephen, the company president, is more involved in the trucking end of the business and in purchasing. We do cross over [in our roles] probably more than most owners or family members in business do. We have areas that we focus on, but we consult each other constantly, and discuss things more than most. We dont have a specific delineation of responsibilities."

Neal has also found that peer groups are an excellent opportunity to discuss ideas and to develop working relationships with other business leaders in his industry and beyond.

"Seven or eight years ago, I was put on a board with 3M, our largest supplier, which they called their Distributor Advisory Board. The board was a great opportunity for me to talk to other people who do exactly what I do in other parts of the country. The learning that took part as a result of that group was just immeasurable. After that association, I was on the steering committee with Afflink, and again I got to meet and discuss issues with my contemporaries a few times a year. Im looking to get back involved with that type of situation because you do find that a problem you really thought was only your problem is the same issue others are facing.

"Ive made many friends through these associations, and every few weeks I pick up the phone and we talk and compare notes. We learn from each other constantly. Even though Im no longer a part of those boards, Im in contact with these people all the time."

Hughes Enterprises has developed a web presence through their information and e-commerce site, www.hughesent.com.


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