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Tyler Russom: Leading By Example

Tyler Russom is a district manager with Buchheit Enterprises, which has eight large-format farm stores/home centers located in southeastern Missouri and western Illinois. He cut his leadership teeth working for Lowe’s, going through its management/leadership training rigors. After leaving Lowe’s because he wasn’t willing to move across country for a different assignment, he found his “second home” working with the Buchheit family, managing one of its large-format farm and home stores in Jackson, Missouri.

Different Kinds of Leaders

“I’ve worked for a lot of good leaders as well a lot of bad ones. I think working for both has helped me develop my leadership skills and style because I have seen what poor leadership does to the staff. I have probably learned as much from the poor leaders as I have the good ones.”

“I worked for a store manager who never left the office. It was when I was at Lowe’s, and he always said he could run the store from his chair. After a year, he still didn’t know many employees by name. It fostered a very poor environment. I also worked for a guy at Lowe’s who I am still good friends with who taught me how to treat everyone the same. He didn’t have favorites and was always fair and consistent, regardless of what the situation was.”

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Moment of Truth

“There was an ice storm back in 2009, and I stayed at the store from 7 a.m. to midnight for days. We kept it open late so customers could come in and get what they needed. It was a huge boost to the community. Being a small company and owning a trucking company we were able to bring in needed supplies that other retailers couldn’t get. The team didn’t mind working until midnight … everyone was on board 100 percent. I think that’s when Tim [Buchheit, CEO] and the family realized that I had the commitment to do what I needed to do without being asked or told.”

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Recognizing Potential

“Probably my biggest weakness is I give people too much of a chance and let situations drag on too long before making that hard decision. I had an assistant manager at Lowe’s who was super intelligent and could have run a store or been a district manager or whatever he wanted. But he had a substance abuse problem. Instead of doing what I should have done, I went way overboard trying to help him along personally. It ended up biting me in the end anyway.”

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Leading by Example

“I give people clear direction on where we want to go. If they are not going the right direction, instead of screaming and hollering—I’m not that kind of person—it’s more about recognizing the obstacles and figuring how to get there by showing them a clear path and what the opportunities are.”

“I have established trust with my staff. I’m going to tell you straight up when you ask me what your potential is.”

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Taking Initiative

“I think it’s getting harder to find people with leadership qualities and traits. If you want to move up to the next level within the company, you’re going to have to come ask me. I’m not going to ask you. It’s always been a pet peeve of mine when I promote someone and a month later someone else comes and asks me why I didn’t pick them.”

“That person who is always willing to work late or come in on their day off, that’s the person I’m going to keep an eye on … someone who will do whatever it takes to help the company. If you’re watching that clock and clocking out at 3:30 on the nose, that’s probably something that’s going to turn me off right away.”

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Generational Challenges

“Some of our older store managers don’t always know how to adapt their management style to younger employees. We have a 28-year-old managing one of our stores who can relate more to younger employees and who understands where they are coming from. Some of our older managers can’t relate. That’s a challenge for us.”

“Everyone from Tim down is working really hard to learn how we’re going to lead the Millennials. These new folks are the future of the company. It’s one of the biggest challenges we have.”

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Recruiting

“Our turnover is half of what it was last year. We’ve greatly reduced it through our training initiatives, and we’re not throwing them out in front of the truck with the headlights shining in their eyes.”

About Liz Lichtenberger

Liz is the special projects editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and trends, visits retailers, and attends industry events. She graduated from Xavier University, where she earned a degree in English and Spanish and was a member of the swim team. Liz is a Louisville, Kentucky, native who lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children. She enjoys swimming, reading, doing home improvement projects around her house and cheering on her two favorite basketball teams, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Xavier Musketeers.

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