Powerlink Supports Walsh College, Helps Raise $107,000 for Scholarships

At Powerlink, we believe in entrepreneurship. That’s why we not only support and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit among our own team, but also among others in the community. One organization that truly supports this mission—and that I’ve had the privilege of working with for many years—is Walsh College. As a graduate myself, I know the critical connections the college makes for students, bridging the gap that often exists between the worlds of higher education and business.

In addition to serving as a trustee on the Walsh College Foundation board, for the past 2 years, I’ve been the co-chair of the Walsh College Wine Gala, a fundraiser for student scholarships, and was thrilled to see this year’s event raise $107,000. It’s an event that, year after year, continues to have a very positive impact: providing financial help for students and bringing the Walsh community closer together.

We support the event both through a financial contribution from the company, as well as leveraging our network of friends and business partners. It’s a benefit to everyone in the business community here in Detroit to encourage and nurture the next generation of employees, business owners and entrepreneurs—and I know our investment in Walsh College will be a big part of our region’s continued growth and success.

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility

Detroit Free Press Profile: Link Howard

I was thrilled to be featured in the Detroit Free Press recently in a piece entitled Powerlink founder started new career late in life. As the article was a broad profile, I did have an opportunity to share a few of the lessons and ideas that have been important to me in shaping my personal and professional development. One of those is the importance of dressing the part. In response to a question from Free Press reporter Frank Witsil—who was kind enough to visit me here at our New Center One offices for the interview—I explain that, when it comes to bussiness attire:

“I like to mix it up. I like being well dressed because when people see me they think of Powerlink. When they think of Powerlink, I want them to have a favorable impression. I want people to remember me in the right ways. Being a sharp dresser is a way to remember me, it opens the door to a relationship — and further conversation.”

The importance of personal image is something I believe in deeply, and it’s something I try to impart to Powerlink employees, as well. How we dress has so much to do with how we are perceived, and it’s such a simple thing that anyone can do to enhance their image.

The article also briefly explores my family’s entrepreneurial history, and I explain how I used that as a motivator in my own career. I talk about how the first real entrepreneur I saw in action was my grandfather, who owned and worked in parking lots around the Chrysler factory in Hamtramck.

Watching my grandfather work when I was a young man was my first taste of business in action, and it “instilled in me a desire to want my financial freedom.” It’s a reminder to me that, no matter how badly we want to get where we are going, it’s always worthwhile to take a moment and reflect upon where we have been and why we do what we do.

Categories: Business Success

The Value of a Long-Range Plan

Every organization must balance the challenges of succeeding today with the need to build a framework to grow tomorrow. These are different, and often contradictory goals that need separate attention. As leaders it’s our job to look ahead and understand the next steps our company should take—for today and for the future.

Growth necessitates being structurally different. Even if your business model doesn’t shift (which it most likely should), scale creates a new set of challenges all by itself. At Powerlink, we believe in long-term planning. We believe in building a support system for your organization that will be ready for the next step. It costs time and money to do this well: to vet and invest in the right partners and to ensure your technology has capabilities beyond what you need today.

Many companies fail during a growth period—what should be their time of success—because they have not reinvested to secure the infrastructure they need to expand. It means thinking ahead and making the choices to add staff in addition to add external partners.

This is the philosophy that led to the creation of Powerlink Construction: the chance to use our expertise to take on new opportunities. While there has been a significant amount of preparation specifically for that new challenge, we had the corporate infrastructure in place to see that this new step would succeed. We were confident that the HR, accounting, communication and training systems were in place to take advantage of the opportunity to grow our business.

Categories: Business Success, The Industry

Construction Projects Succeed When They See the Future

I’ve been in the construction business for more than two decades, and in that time, I’ve seen many projects that have succeeded, but also many that—even if they were deemed victories when they first opened—did not reach their potential because of a lack of attention to the long-term vision and execution for building management.

From the beginning of any construction project, from build-outs to the largest ground-up endeavor, companies often make decisions with short-term rather than long-term costs in mind, valuing design and initial expenses over lifetime function and maintenance. As with any large project, many of these factors come back to cost, but what companies often ignore is that the construction and materials choices they make today will impact them for the next 25 years.

Common mistakes include selecting materials that wear out too quickly (from door hinges to countertops), undervaluing energy efficient design choices, and not taking into account the labor related cost of maintenance and repairs when making long-term calculations.

For example, looking at fluorescent vs. LED lights, you may have a price difference of $150 per unit. When calculating the potential lifetime cost savings from LEDs, many organizations look at the price difference, but leave out the cost in time and labor to change the bulbs. Often, this should also include the cost to purchase expensive equipment such as lifts to reach high ceilings. When we add up the numbers this way, it gives us a much clearer picture of whether it makes sense to spend a bit more up front to save over the long term.

With this approach, it’s not a guessing game. It is easy to calculate whether a more durable or energy efficient choice will be a fit for the project based on its time horizon—and to ensure that your construction project will still be worth the investment five, ten or 25 years down the road.

Categories: Business Success, The Industry

Core Values: The Importance of Building Relationships

“Relationship Builder” is one of our core values as an organization and, as a service company—a “people” company—it’s at the heart of everything we do. It’s critical to build relationships at every level of a company both internally and externally. For us, even a cursory list of our key audiences means that strong relationships must be reinforced and nurtured from our management team to our front line staff:

  • Our facilities management team members in the Detroit Public Schools must work directly with students, teachers and school administrators.
  • Our housekeepers at Henry Ford Hospital must build relationships with doctors, nurses and patients, as well as with the Henry Ford Health System’s management team.
  • The Powerlink management team must build strong bonds with employees at every level of the organization as well as key client contacts.

These relationships are not built overnight and they need constant nurturing to succeed. Whether it’s ensuring our employees know that their leadership team is here to provide them with the support they need to get the job done right on a day-to-day basis, or connecting with new contacts and leads as we grow our business, relationships are not a one-time transaction.

Our employees are the face of our businesses, and the most important relationships we build are between our front-line team members and our clients (as well as our client’s clients). We strive to integrate fully into these organizations, which can’t be done without constant communication and support.

Categories: Business Success, The Industry