How Worth Higgins & Associates Builds Cultural Significance
By Benny Bowman & Scott Hudson
When we think of the cornerstones that lay the foundation for a company and its cultural significance, those are the ones we cite most often. Significant companies are the ones that have the right people, the right strategy and the right purpose.
And while that is easy to say, you must put the work into the process every day. In an industry where change is constant and each project brings new and exciting challenges to tackle, the promise you make to your people, the attention to detail you put into your strategy, and the commitment you make to maintaining your purpose matters.
It matters to your employees, your customers, and most of all, to yourself.
The mission statement at Worth Higgins & Associates is that we are a premier provider of print and visual communication solutions for customers who value quality and service. We pledge, above all else, that our company empowers our employees, and attracts customers through sustainable opportunities and profitable growth.
We are printers. We made that edict in 1972 when Mr. Worth Higgins first opened his doors to the public. Still today, almost 50 years later, harnessing some of the industry’s most cutting-edge digital, wide-format and finishing technologies, the craft of printing is at the core of everything we do—and what we do well.
But the true measure of our success—the standard that guides our significance—lies in what we offer beyond putting ink on paper. Significant companies empower the people who work for them to treat those who entrust us with their business with respect, fairness, honesty and gratitude. These are the values we weave into every fabric of our culture. More than anything else, culture is the guiding force in the search for significance. Building, maintaining and perfecting that culture is what every company should try to achieve.
In our case, culture is centered on customer service. This requires a relentless pursuit of excellence with integrity, innovation and reliability being front and center. These core values steer our business and give us the credibility we need to remain viable in a market that is shrinking. It also gives us the foresight to expand and diversify into new markets that serve our customers’ needs.
Mr. Higgins’ vision for the future of his company was always focused on the highest level of craftsmanship and customer service by the employees.
Mr. Higgins’ vision for the future of his company was always focused on the highest level of craftsmanship and customer service by the employees. That is why he entrusted his people with the reins in 1999, when he sold the company to his associates rather than opting for one of the industry’s largest consolidators at the time. Over the past 20-plus years, this employee-ownership has guided our commitment to furthering his vision.
Against all odds
Last year, in the throes of a pandemic that continues to change the fabric of everything we do, the employees of our company were awarded with one of the highest honors the commercial print industry bestows on within its community—Printing Industries of the America’s “Best Workplace in America.” The recognition, more than anything else, continues to honor Mr. Higgins’ belief that a positive culture breeds a sense of safety and comfort.
In the eye of the storm that still rages, our ability to remain consistent helps strengthen the foundation of sustainability Worth Higgins has created. Today, every senior management meeting not only focuses on the health of our company but, more importantly, the health of our employee-owners. Our team is behind every decision we make. The payoff comes when you get culture right. It comes when you know the hard decisions you have to make will get the buy-in by everyone who is entrusted to carrying them out.
So, what is being significant? What are the factors that drive everyone moving forward to achieving that goal?
We believe it starts with knowing that our team is capable of achieving anything we put our hearts into doing. Nobody here—not our management team or any of our associates—willingly signed up for what the world has faced over the last year. The additional responsibilities that every one of our employees have faced only add to the sometimes overwhelming stress our fast-paced industry squares up against every day.
During the past year, virtually every employee volunteered to perform an alternative role sometimes on a daily basis, as each moment seemingly delivered a different set of new and challenging obstacles.
The accounting department became handwork assemblers.
The pressmen became bindery operators.
The bindery operators became delivery drivers.
With a reduced workforce, what was needed on a daily basis changed on a dime. And with each change, every employee stepped up in a moment’s notice without ever questioning the task in front of them.
While it was impressive for sure, it was also humbling to witness the true character of our team.
As we look out over the rubble of what the last year has put each of us through, we have been blessed by our team’s ability to cling to our cornerstones. We are humbled by their sincere effort to make both their peers and our customers smile. For Worth Higgins & Associates, the journey we have been on has not only been one of expanding profit, but of emotional strength.
As we look out over the rubble of what the last year has put each of us through, we have been blessed by our team’s ability to find the good.
And as we head into even more uncharted waters, we have developed this strength to refocus on our company’s financial profit and long-term viability.
Moving forward, we will continue to diligently assess everything we do and make the necessary changes as these challenging times drag on. And while there will continue to be hard decisions to make, we will make them as a team. Everything that has happened to this point has strengthened our resolve as a company—as a culture—and has brought us together in ways that will embolden our significance and stature in the industry.
Benny Bowman, President and COO, and Scott Hudson, Director of Communications, are part of the executive team for Worth Higgins & Associates (www.worthhiggins.com). Along with offset, digital, wide-format and promotional product printing, the Richmond, Virginia-based printer offers myriad services, including mailing, warehousing and fulfillment, automated print management systems, variable data printing, digital publishing and multi-channel solutions.