Wade Lombard, The Man Behind Square Cow Movers
As every great leader will share, the foundation of their leadership skills and vision was instilled in them at an early age. As was the case with Wade, his inspiration came from his father, he saw what his father built and wanted to be a part of it.
Great leaders are not lazy. Wade is the true example of that statement. When you co-own a thriving, up-and-coming moving company in a booming city like Austin, Texas, the customers rarely see the owners. Instead, they see the front-line employees and those are the faces of the company. The ones the company is graded on by the public.
Wade knows that the core values he has set out for the company mean nothing unless every person in the company believes them, and it goes beyond listing them in a corporate brochure. Wade has his employees each morning connect with the company vision.
Wade’s understanding of the importance of core values and knowing that if every person in the company believes in the core values, the chances of having not just a satisfied customer, but a “client for life” is what his business strives for. It isn’t enough to just have happy customers. He wants raving fans. And that is precisely what he is doing.
The following is my interview with Mr. Wade Lombard, which was an absolute pleasure. His passion for his job, his family, and life, is quite contagious.
As a child, what did you long to be when you grew up and in what ways does that relate to what you do now?
“My answer to this question always surprises those that ask it. I wanted to be a city garbage man when I grew up. That’s right, a garbage man. Why you ask? These men looked like giants to me. They were able to hang on the back of a moving truck, wind in their hair, not a worry in the world. I would have my nose pressed against the front window watching them in awe. Remember, this is how a young boy thinks.”
“Shockingly, this childhood dream is directly related to who I am today. My dad (and now business partner) was co-owner of that small garbage business. I was exposed to big trucks, mechanics, wage earners, and a service focused small business from an early age. While I was much too young to understand a balance sheet I believe the nuances of leading a small business were firmly planted early on.”
What steps do you take to ensure that your organization’s activities are in alignment with the company mission, core values, and vision?
“This question sits directly in the bullseye of my job description. It’s this question that keeps me up late at night and gets me up early in the morning. Here is what we know, vision leaks. Most small business owners hope to grow their business; that is natural.
“However, one difficulty of a growing business is ensuring that those on the front lines are living out the culture; evangelizing the brand, staying true to the core values that define the organization. Here is how we work to avoid a leaky vision.
“The Square. The Square is a literal square, painted on the floor of all of our branches. At 7:30am every morning each manager, mover, and packer steps inside the Square. This is when and where we preach and repeat the company vision. The Square has four sides; relational, cultural, tactical, and safety. Every single morning we cover four different topics related to these vital areas. We are constantly preaching and repeating who we are and how we operate, not a monthly conference call, not at the water cooler, not a weekly download. Every. Single. Day.
“How do you align your activities with your vision? You set aside a time and place to preach and repeat. I don’t believe the core values are to be thrown on a wall or lost in the policies and procedures manual, they must be tattooed into our daily vocabulary at Square Cow Movers.”
Which two organizations, other than your own, do you view as inspirational and why?
“My business partners and I ask this regularly of each other. We have always looked to businesses small and large to measure ourselves against. This game is sometimes fun and sometimes miserable. There are some companies out there that never seem to make a mistake.
“We look at two Texas-based companies as inspirational. First, H-E-B. This grocery chain has figured out how to take a mundane task, grocery shopping, and turn it into an enjoyable experience. Furthermore, H-E-B’s commitment to the local community and the brand loyalty it produces is unparalleled. Secondly, K&N Management owns and runs several Rudy’s BBQ and Mighty Fine restaurants. These guys define cleanliness, excellence and service.
“I am definitely a clean freak, much to my kids’ dismay. I love walking into a K&N establishment and seeing and smelling cleanliness. Additionally, these guys genuinely care about creating a high-quality product and serving it at the highest standard. They measure everything! How long it takes to order, get your change, cut the meat, sweep the floor, blink your eyes. Everything. Both H-E-B and K&N Management are dialed in on how their business operates and what success looks like. I am always impressed, always.”
When an owner can draw comparisons to a company in another industry, it shows not only respect but also improving the strengths of their company. H-E-B has the same issue as Square Cow Movers, no one likes to go grocery shopping, and while most people find it thrilling to move to a new location, no one wants to go through the process of moving their stuff. We’re human. We love the ride; we just hate waiting in line.
What are YOUR main performance indicators? How are they measured and echoed throughout the business?
“We look at four main metrics each month. Additionally, each of our managers is incentivized to perform well in these four areas.
Survey Results – we send a 10 question survey to every client the day after their move. The results of these surveys are tallied and posted and up-to-date at all times for all staff to see.
Labor – our highest cost is labor, our employees. Keeping this number within an acceptable range is crucial to our company health.
Damages – we know damages are a natural part of the industry. Regardless, we want to be known for having a low-damage rate.
Revenue – like all companies we are forced to focus on revenue. It sets the stage for everything else.”
What are your top three priorities for the business?
“This has shifted recently. For a while, I would have listed “growth” as a priority. While growth is exciting, it isn’t a priority or a strategy. Growth is the result of sound priorities. Right now our priorities are;
Safety, moving with careful urgency
Excellence, serving with high standards
Efficiency, maintain consistent margins across our company.”
How do you fight complacency and mediocrity?
“Personally, I fight complacency by making sure I am doing what I am most gifted at. I try to shed myself of tasks and responsibilities that don’t fit my areas of expertise. If I am operating within my skills and gifts, I rarely feel complacent.
“As a leader, I must lead the charge on creating an environment that will not allow mediocrity. We love this statement, “what you tolerate, you promote.” This is a transformative thought. Secondly, recruiting and retaining the type of people that loathe mediocrity is essential. The right people are no more comfortable with mediocrity than I am.”
What has been the most impactful lesson you’ve learned as a business leader?
“Other people leverage leaders. If my hands are required to touch every job, every client, every item, I have a job, not a business. I must be able to cast vision and teach a culture that other people are willing to attach themselves to. Furthermore, I must be willing to hold them accountable when they fail to adhere to that culture.
“Leadership is setting clear expectations and holding people accountable. This is a moving target, not a stationary destination.”
How do you create leadership opportunities within the organization?
“Years ago, we didn’t. However, we learned a couple of years ago that if we don’t develop people within our organization, our growth will be limited. We started by creating an M.I.T. (managers in training) program. This program takes the best leaders within a branch and gives them some authority and managerial responsibilities. Secondly, we launched Herd Development Day. Twice a year we take those M.I.T.’s and invite them to our headquarters in Austin, Texas for two days of training and skills assessment. At the end of Herd Development Day, we have a list of candidates for our next leadership positions.”
What responsibility do businesses have to the communities around them, and how do you exemplify that within your organization?
“Businesses have no responsibility to the community around them. When you get your DBA or small business loan or business license you don’t sign anything that says you will give back to the community. However, businesses are uniquely placed in a spot where they can have the most significant impact. It goes back to the leader of that business. Do they have a faith system or an internal drive to give back? Do they genuinely care for others? If so, the impact they can have is farther reaching than can be measured.
“We have tried to zero in on what we care about. In the Bible, Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Square Cow is committed to making widows and orphans the central focus of our charitable dollars and service.”
What leadership advice would you give your younger self?
“Don’t worry so much! In the early years, we would spend 14 hours in the back of a hot truck moving furniture. It was physically and mentally exhausting. However, I would crawl into bed, but sleep would evade me as I stared at the ceiling full of anxiety and strife over that one complaint, those emails that needed to be sent, that truck that needed an oil change. It sucked the joy out of the milestones we crossed; the employees lives that we changed, the new homes we helped people settle into.
“Younger self, celebrate the wins, battle the loses but sleep easy knowing God’s got this.”
Austin’s SQUARE COW Movers Moves People With Uncommon Care and Professionalism
When you want a mover to handle your possessions with genuine care, Austin’s Square Cow Movers (also referred to as Square Cow Moovers – as customers playfully refer to the company and their “cow theme” in the moving industry) is the family moving company with all the honesty and earnestness of the Boy Scouts. They quickly gained a reputation as the the best movers in Austin and are now expanding to other areas of the country too.
Ten years ago when we moved our entire family lock, stock, and barrel to Austin, we had a tough time finding a reasonable mover that wouldn’t trash our possessions. Today Square Cow remembers that experience and is committed to providing first-class professional moving at a cost most people can afford. It’s because of this that we find we like to lean towards supporting more local businesses, ones we can really sit down with and get to know. No phone trees, no month-long email chains, just good people. We’ve got companies we trust that we partner within all of our communities, but Austin is always our stronghold. We’ve got multi-year friendships with donation centers, churches, offices, and even a company in junk removal, Austin is just a unique city like that. And we hope we can enter every city to build trust with hardworking partners in even more industries.
Your possessions arrive in perfect condition without accidents or excuses, due to not just their excellent staff, but their best in the industry packing materials. No detail is too small for these movers. Experience for yourself what customers have called “the best moving experience of their lives” with no hidden fees, surprises, or disappointments.
We Move Everything – Jobs Large & Small
Whether moving your bedroom set from one room to the next, moving across Austin (local moves), around Texas or all over the Nation (long distance) – Square Cow Movers approaches each assignment like the custom job it should be. Our family operation concentrates on fundamental values you might learn in the Boy Scouts: Honesty, Courtesy, Excellence, and Hard Work.
We start with a discussion, finding out what you want, what you need, and all your concerns. We understand you’re a little nervous about movers packing up everything you own and hauling it away. And if it is a last minute move, they can help you there too without costing you an outrageous fee unlike other moving companies.
Then the Square Cow team goes to work planning your move, making sure all items are handled with professional care and taking the extra effort to properly pack so everything is fully protected. For very valuable, fragile items, this may mean creating a custom crate and handling with kid gloves.
Yes, We Move the Big Stuff
We move pianos, pool tables, entire offices, big pieces of equipment and much more. There isn’t much we won’t move from residential to commercial. Square Cow is a one-stop shop for almost all moving jobs large and small.
Affordability is always a top concern at Squire Cow Moving. We realize moving is one of the most expensive and demanding times in life for most people. That’s why we plan each move carefully to keep costs down while still providing exceptional professional service.
Need moving storage? We have your back there too.
Get to know the Square Cow Moving family (we really ARE a family) at www.SquareCowMovers.com. Then contact us for your no-obligation discussion. Your perfect move is just a phone call or email away.