Building on strengths and giving back
After building the successful company known as Rogers Electric, chairman Lin Rogers 08MEMBA turned to a Goizueta education “to avoid getting trapped.” Education, says Rogers, “provides an environment where you are not in control and opens your mind to other ideas.” Knowledge he acquired at Goizueta has also proved to be extremely profitable, Rogers admits, one reason he considers it natural to want to return the favor.
“You make time for the things you want to make time for,” Rogers said in remarks to students in a Modular Executive MBA class on a recent Sunday morning. Rogers was commenting on his recent role as sponsor for a group of ten MBA students on a major spring Management Practice project. Rogers characterizes his enthusiasm for giving time and money to Goizueta as “a conscious decision to help the school reach its goals and achieve its objectives, to give back as the school gave to me.”
Rogers Electric is one of the top 50 electrical contractors in the United States, providing electrical construction, service, and maintenance for multi-site commercial enterprises across the nation. Clients include The Home Depot, Borders, Gap, and Target. Rogers credits classwork at Goizueta in 2007 with helping to position the company for the economic realities of 2008 and the current year.
“We were doing full evaluations on different business segments, and one of the models we identified—this was in June of 07—indicated a slowdown in the construction market,” he explains. In response, Rogers says, “we went in and tied down all of our 08 construction work in the third and fourth quarters of 07.” Prices in 2007, Rogers says, “ended up being 8 percent higher than 08’s and 12 percent higher than 09’s, so that information, that data, turned out to be extremely profitable for us.”
Rogers also benefited from a meeting with Warren Buffett organized by J.B. Kurish, associate dean of the Full-Time and Evening MBA programs and associate professor in the practice of finance. Kurish led a group of students to Nebraska, where they met with “the Oracle of Omaha” in a Q&A. Rogers says investments he has made at Buffett’s suggestion “have worked out tremendously well.”
As a student, Rogers appreciated—and continues to value—the importance Goizueta attaches to “the softer skills, the ability to manage people at multiple levels, the skill set of interacting with people.” That, he says, “seems to be the skill set that will advance you the furthest.”
—Susan Merritt Jordan