How Far Have You Come?

At CCAW, I was always thinking about making the company better. How can we make our customers’ experience better? How can we make it easier for our vendors to do business with us? How can we use technology to improve internal operations and make life easier for our team members? It was a relentless decade-long quest to be better. It definitely worked. We built an amazing company and some pretty cool technology. Admittedly, I pushed extremely hard (sometimes harder than my team thought I should!). In my mind, there were all these ways we could be better and I wanted to attack them! I wanted us to reach our full potential.

One day I had a conversation with my mom that put things in perspective. She reminded me of where it all started and who helped me. In the early days of CCAW, I stored product at my parents’ house (and other places too). My mom constantly asked me, “When are you going to get all these boxes out of my house? This isn’t a warehouse, Jermaine!” My parents lived in Louisiana and I was in Atlanta (or wherever EY had dispatched me for the week). I used spreadsheets to track the product I was storing and manage customer fulfillment. When we sold product, I would get on the phone and coordinate with my Dad to get it to customers. The stuff was heavy and bulky. He usually made time to ship stuff after working a grueling day in the sun at a refinery. Without his help, there’s no way I would have been able to get CCAW off the ground. I’m super appreciative of that help—and of him for putting up with me.

That conversation with my mom stopped me in my tracks. I realized that instead of focusing all the time on making improvements, I should recognize how far I’d come and how other people helped me get there. At the time of that conversation, we were probably doing around $7 million in annual revenue. We had built a completely automated system that fulfilled hundreds of daily orders from dozens of warehouses nationwide. Yes, there were still warts on the business, but it had come a long way.

From Mom, I learned that things will never be perfect and there will always be things you can improve. It’s important to remember to acknowledge how far you’ve come and the people who helped you get there (thanks Dad!).

How far have you come? Who helped you along the way?