Julie Copeland came to us with a dream: She did not want her company, Arbill, to be just a safety products company. She wanted to seriously impact people’s lives by reducing injury in the workplace.
I first met Julie through Jeffrey Berstein, who at the time was CEO of ImageFIRST. They were Young Presidents’ Organization members and YPO forum buddies in 2014. Knowing we would take good care of her, Jeffrey referred Julie to us. That introduction began our almost ten-year (and counting) relationship.
Julie was determined to build a legacy with the company her father had handed down to her. During our first sessions together, I could see that the thought of protecting people was making her more and more excited. As we refined Arbill’s strategy, she clarified her Core Purpose: Keep people safe so they can enjoy life to the fullest!
One of our objectives was for Julie to develop what Jim Collins terms a BHAG - a long-term stretch goal for the company. I still remember how the Arbill team buzzed with excitement when they settled on their BHAG: By 2020, they wanted to protect 1.6 million people.
Watch this short video to hear this story from the CEO’s perspective.
To hit their BHAG, Julie and her team would need to systematically improve Arbill with new processes and habits that stuck. By gradually stacking these new solutions and performance habits, their improvements began to compound over time and gain momentum, just like the turn of a flywheel.
“With the support of our awesome Success Managers, Rhythm became the team’s silver bullet,” Julie shared. The team learned how to identify problems early and often; they did not need to wait for their monthly financials to see if they had incurred losses. Because they learned to color status their goals weekly and hone in on Reds and Yellows during their meetings, they began to operate in problem-solving mode. They shifted from being reactive to being proactive.
These changes didn’t happen overnight–nor did they happen without hard work and the courage to overcome obstacles and challenges. Leaning into change management and resolving obstacles, we helped them develop a culture of accountability and a strong ownership mentality. Leadership would work with their reports to establish goals, and then it was up to each individual employee to execute, status, and comment every week. Their managers went from burning time and money micromanaging to acting as coaches. They were able to focus their energy on big, strategic ideas, and they allowed their team members to execute their own goals. The whole team achieved a new level of independence.
Performance habits take time to bear fruit, and over the years, it has been a joy and a privilege to witness the Arbill team continue to grow by leveling up their abilities. They have become stronger and stronger–so strong, in fact, that they achieved their first BHAG: 1.6 million lives protected.
A High-Performing Team
Arbill operates on a totally different level today! They know how to pick the right priorities and get clear on them. They align their teams and remain accountable to deliver the results they have committed to. They do all of this fast and with little drama.
Julie has an amazing presence, pleasant and full of optimism, yet relentlessly driven. My admiration for her has only grown. She gives off what I call “bright energy”–it is hard to meet her and not feel inspired. When she engages, she gives you her full attention. You know and can feel that she genuinely cares as she works tirelessly to impact people’s lives in a positive way.
Arbill is now the largest woman-led company in the PPE and safety industry. Their next BHAG, with a deadline set for 2030, challenges them to protect 4.6 million people a year.
Julie has already built a remarkable legacy, and she’s not finished building. She will not stop until she has protected as many lives as possible. We are honored to continue our partnership with her, and with the Arbill team, as they fulfill their purpose.
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images