Today, I had the privilege to sit down with Greg Simutis, the Director of Human Resources at Sterling Engineering. Greg’s journey with Sterling began on June 30, 1986, when he joined. Greg’s tenure is marked by significant milestones, such as his contribution to building Sterling into a diverse and specialized service provider, his role in Sterling’s leadership and executive team, and his establishment of a major account. In this interview, Greg will share his insights on the company’s evolution, the impact of technological and industry changes, and the enduring values that have defined Sterling’s culture.

Introduction and Background

  • Can you tell us your name and current role at Sterling?
    • Greg Simutis, Director of Human Resources
  • What year did you start working at Sterling, and what was your initial position?
    • June 30, 1986: Recruiter

Career Journey

  • Can you walk me through the different roles you have held over the past 38 years?
    • Recruiter, Recruiting Manager, Business Development Manager – Major Accounts; Operations Manager, and currently the Director of Human Resources
  • What were some of the most significant milestones or achievements in your career at Sterling?
    • I am very proud of my 38-year tenure and realize how unique that is in today’s business community. Milestones include my career path and advancement throughout the years, becoming part of Sterling’s Leadership/Executive Team, and building a large Major Account in which Sterling became a sole/primary supplier with a peak of 225 contract employees.

Company Evolution

  • How has Sterling evolved since you first started?
    • Sterling has evolved significantly since I first started. We have transformed from a small, local service provider into a diverse company offering specialized services nationwide and internationally. Our commitment to innovation has driven this evolution, as has our ability to adapt to changing market demands and our focus on expanding our expertise and service offerings. Today, Sterling is recognized for its local impact and ability to deliver comprehensive solutions on a global scale.
  • What are some of the most significant changes you have observed in the company’s culture, operations, and strategic direction?
    • Our culture has always been unique and strong, but significant changes have emerged in our vision, creativity, and strategic thinking. We’ve moved from a reactive approach to a more proactive, forward-thinking mindset, allowing us to anticipate market trends and adapt accordingly. This shift has fostered substantial growth and innovation within Sterling. Enhanced strategic planning has also played a crucial role, enabling us to set clear goals and achieve them more effectively. These changes have strengthened our company, making us more agile and better positioned for continued success.

Technological and Industry Changes

  • How has technology impacted your work and the operations at Sterling over the years?
    • Technology has significantly impacted my work and the operations at Sterling over the years. One of the biggest challenges in HR has been keeping up with rapidly changing employment laws at the state and municipal levels. Technological tools and resources have been essential in helping us stay fully compliant with these regulations. Additionally, technology has streamlined many HR processes, from recruitment and onboarding to performance management and employee engagement. These advancements have improved efficiency and enhanced our ability to support our employees and meet the evolving needs of our business.
  • What industry-wide changes have had the most impact on Sterling, and how did the company adapt to these changes?
    • The Staffing industry has grown significantly in my time at Sterling – increased competition ranging from large, all-purpose competitors to more niche or specialized organizations. Our ongoing challenge is to find the best target market and become a trusted partner for those customers.

Challenges and Overcoming Them

  • How did you and the company address and overcome these challenges?
    • We addressed and overcame challenges by consistently prioritizing our employees and expanding our infrastructure to support their growth. By taking a genuine interest in our team, we ensured their needs and aspirations were heard and addressed. This involved creating clear pathways for career advancement, enhancing responsibilities, and offering competitive compensation packages. This comprehensive approach helped us navigate challenges and fostered a motivated, capable, and loyal workforce.

Company Culture and Values

  • How would you describe Sterling’s company culture when you first joined compared to now?
    • Sterling’s company culture has remained strong and unique since I first joined but has evolved significantly as the company has grown. Initially, we were a smaller team, making maintaining a family-like atmosphere easier. Today, with a much larger staff, managing and nurturing our culture has become a more complex undertaking. However, the core values of hard work, collaboration, and commitment to excellence have remained constant, even as we have scaled. The challenge now is to ensure that these values continue to permeate every level of the organization as we expand.
  • What core values have remained consistent throughout your time here?
    • The core values that have remained consistent throughout my time at Sterling include a strong work ethic, a sense of urgency, and a high level of self-motivation. We have always encouraged going “above and beyond” in our efforts, fostering a culture where dedication and extra effort are highly valued. Additionally, the emphasis on partnership—both among internal employees and with external customers—has been a cornerstone of our success. Sterling has also maintained a family-friendly atmosphere, balancing a competitive environment with professionalism and mutual respect. Finally, the commitment to supporting advancement and growth for all employees has been a key element of our culture, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to develop and succeed.

Mentorship and Growth

  • Have you had mentors who influenced your career at Sterling? How did they impact you?
    • Absolutely. Throughout my career at Sterling, I’ve been fortunate to have incredible mentors who have profoundly influenced my professional growth. Our bond as a Leadership Team is incredibly strong and supportive, fostering a collaborative environment where we all thrive. Additionally, the guidance and leadership from Dan Casey and, currently, Dolores Connolly have been instrumental. They have not only provided valuable insights and direction but have also instilled a sense of integrity, innovation, and commitment that has shaped my approach to leadership and management. Their mentorship has encouraged me to take on new challenges, think strategically, and continuously strive for excellence in my role.
  • Have you had the opportunity to mentor others? What advice do you typically give to new employees?
    • Yes, I’ve been very fortunate to mentor many individuals throughout my career at Sterling. It’s incredibly rewarding to guide and support the next generation of professionals as they navigate their career paths. When mentoring new employees, I always emphasize the importance of embracing activity and maintaining a strong work ethic. It’s crucial to stay proactive, take initiative, and remain committed to your responsibilities.  However, I also stress the need to strike a balance. Success isn’t just about hard work; it’s also about delivering high-quality results, being creative in problem-solving, and thinking strategically. It’s essential to approach tasks thoughtfully and not just focus on getting things done quickly. Quality and creativity can set you apart and drive innovation within the company.

Personal Reflections

  • What has kept you motivated and committed to Sterling for 38 years?
    • What has kept me motivated and committed to Sterling for 38 years is the incredible team I work with, both inside and outside the company. Our collective focus on expanding our services and delivering outstanding customer service is immensely fulfilling. Implementing the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) has been particularly motivating, fostering a sense of ownership and unity among all employees. Additionally, the opportunity for continuous professional growth and the supportive, collaborative culture at Sterling keep me inspired and dedicated to contributing to the company’s success.
  • Can you share a memorable story or experience from your time at Sterling that stands out to you?
    • One memorable story from my time at Sterling is how we became the primary supplier for our largest revenue major account. We were competing against well-established firms for a coveted contract and knew we had to differentiate ourselves. We focused on understanding the client’s needs and delivering customized solutions. We secured the contract by building strong relationships with key decision-makers and showcasing our commitment to quality and reliability. At its peak, we had 225 contract employees assigned to this account, significantly contributing to Sterling’s growth. This experience highlighted the importance of perseverance, strategic thinking, and exceptional service and remains a proud moment in my career.

Future Outlook

  • What are your thoughts on the future direction of Sterling?
    • Very positive! I am so pleased to be part of the Sterling Team and am highly optimistic about our future, given the talent we have at Sterling!
  • If you could offer one piece of advice to the leadership team for the future, what would it be?
    • If I could offer one piece of advice to the leadership team for the future, it would be to never react too quickly. In today’s fast-paced business environment, making swift decisions in response to emerging challenges or opportunities can be tempting. However, taking the time to thoroughly think through an issue is crucial for finding the best resolution. This means carefully considering all possible outcomes, seeking input from various stakeholders, and evaluating the long-term impact of any decision. Doing so ensures that your choices are well-informed and strategically sound, ultimately leading to more sustainable success for the company.
Pamela O’Donnell, Marketing Manager, podonnell@sterling-engineering.com

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