Rodger Ford’s Teams Win Big in the Arena and in Business
Tucson Founder of Alphagraphics and PetsHotel Uses Rodeo Team Penning to Symbolize His Entrepreneurial Vision for His Next Project
Tucson, AZ (PRWEB) September 20, 2013
“Great businesses aren’t built by extraordinary team members, but by ordinary team members doing extraordinary things,” said Rodger Ford who founded AlphaGraphics in Tucson, Arizona in 1970.
Success is the achievement of something desired, planned or attempted. In this case, herding cows in less time than their competitors during three event rounds is what success looks like in this case. And that is exactly what Rodger Ford and his team accomplished at the 2013 Reno Rodeo, one of the premier rodeos in the United States.
Thirty head of cattle fill the far end of the arena wearing numbers on their backs, with three cows each bearing a number from one to ten. Rodger Ford sits on his precisely trained horse, waiting for his cue. The announcer says “Riders ready? SIX! SIX! SIX!” and Ford and his riding partners burst past the foul line toward the cattle, immediately working in tandem to isolate the three number-six cows and corral them into a tiny pen at the opposite end of the arena.
Cohesive teamwork is crucial. The challenge is that you have three competitors riding three horses working together to coerce three head of cattle into a small pen. A lot of things can go wrong. You need strategy, team planning and to not let yourself get rattled, explains Ford.
Success in team penning is not easy and requires years of training the horse and its rider. It was then that Rodger Ford truly embraced that penning is a team sport. “This sport differs from many in the horse world in that you must rely on your teammates to help you reach your goal, much like football, and work together to make it happen,” Ford said.
Ford’s grand prize teammate Conrad Stitser agrees that a cohesive team is crucial. “The challenge is that you have three competitors riding three horses working together to coerce three head of cattle into a small pen. A lot of things can go wrong. You need strategy, team planning and to not let yourself get rattled,” Stitser said.
Ford met his other grand prize teammate Mary Lee Cole at a prior Reno Rodeo when Ford tried to persuade her to sell him her horse. Cole and her horse were both rookies learning the sport together. Years later they are still attending clinics to improve their technique. Cole says that her horse was ready to compete when he learned to move in the exact direction that Cole looks, by detecting the slightest change in body movement.
Likewise, Cole and other penners need to develop eyes in the back of their heads. In a competition where they are trying to corral three particular cows out of thirty in mere seconds, they must also keep any other cows from getting behind them and crossing the foul line or their team will be disqualified. This takes a great deal of practice and teamwork.
Just like running a business, penners must ensure that they select teammates who are the right fit, with a compatible technique, good communication and a common vision – qualities found in a team at a successful company.
In fact, business and sports are both about winning, made possible by a team’s mutually concerted effort to ultimately achieve their goals and come out on top. Looking at successful people, it is clear they focus on the details.
Good competitors pay attention to who is doing what in the arena – whether it’s a rodeo venue or a business market — and what amount of time is needed to achieve the win.
After founding AlphaGraphics, Ford grew the business to 400 locations in 20 countries by 1988. AlphaGraphics was the first franchisor in the world to open locations in the Soviet Union and China.
Ford was Quick Printing Man of the Year in 1985, Arizona SBA Entrepreneur of the Year in 1986. In the early 1990s Ford built commercial real estate company Anthem Equity Group with his partner David Mackstaller, and together they were awarded the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000 for the development of the PetsHotel franchise that was purchased by PetSmart.
Ford served as CEO of SynCardia from 2005 to 2011. During this time Ford and his team raised the capital which funded the artificial heart manufacturer during its development and launch of the Freedom portable driver, the world’s first wearable power supply for the Total Artificial Heart.
Ford’s success has a formula: create the business systems first, reminding people not to get caught up in managing the technical aspects of the business. Instead, design systems to manage the technical aspects of the business. The systems allow a business and its team members to conduct activities with the freedom of consistency and replication – to do things in the best way possible each and every time. That level of discipline provides an atmosphere where ordinary people can achieve extraordinary success.
These are the concepts developed by Michael E. Gerber in his bestselling book The E-Myth in which Ford heeds as a business bible of sorts. With Gerber’s encouragement, Ford is writing a book on how the E-Myth concepts shaped his own business success, and will help shape the future of regulated businesses such as medical device companies, that require strong teams and business systems in order to be successful just like his victories in the arena.
“The entrepreneurial vision has always come first for me,” he said. “Without a clear vision of what the business is going to accomplish when it’s done, all of the knowledge a technician or a manager can bring to it will simply lead everyone around in circles at the bottom of the company, rather than where we really needed to begin, at the top of the company, where I’ve learned the real vision lives.”
Rodger Ford is currently Managing Partner at Anthem Equity Group. Anthem is an open-integrated company where investors, lenders, vendors and team members are part of a seamless organization, committed to working together to maximize our returns in a climate of opportunity and uncertainty. Today’s modern communication tools form the platform for this strategy.