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A Day in the Life of Hydra-Flex’s CEO

February 1, 2017

By: Brian Martucci, Minnesota Business Magazine

Jamie Harris Hydraflex CEOEver wonder what manufacturing CEOs do all day? Minnesota Business Magazine interviewed Jaime Harris, CEO of Hydra-Flex, to answer that question and to give readers a better understanding of manufacturing and its professionals. Read the following excerpt from Industry Watch, written by Brian Martucci at Minnesota Business Magazine:

Jaime Harris founded Hydra-Flex in 2002. For five years after that, “It was basically me, my cofounder and a beer fridge.”

Those were the days. Today, Hydra-Flex employs 40-odd machinists, managers and clerical professionals. “As the business has evolved, I’ve evolved with it,” says Harris.

Though no two days are ever alike, Harris’s day-to-day schedule does include some well-worn patterns:

Standing meetings: Harris runs several “standing meetings” throughout the week, including the mandatory, all-hands staff meeting on Wednesday mornings. “These meetings are opportunities to communicate shared goals, to allow employees to speak up, and to detect friction before it becomes a problem,” says Harris. There’s also a monthly meeting where the leadership shares financial and operational details in a “very transparent” fashion.

Walking the floor: Much of Harris’s day simply involves walking the floor and interacting with every floor employee for 10 or 15 minutes.

Polling and coaching employees: Harris is focusing on building a strong, consistent company culture. He devotes time each day to soliciting honest feedback from employees — “what they’re excited about, what they need to succeed” — and coaching employees to uphold the company’s goals and values.

Devising and communicating new processes: As Hydra-Flex grows, Harris is less focused on implementation and execution than on tactics, strategy and communication. Most days, he works on improving processes that benefit operations, product lines and market verticals, and “articulating what our products do for the applications we serve.”

Other important duties are periodic, but not part of Harris’ day-to-day routine.

Visiting major accounts and sales territories: Harris tries to meet each year with his major customers — whether that means hosting, visiting or meeting in the middle at trade shows.

Hiring: The top goal this year is improving recruiting and retention: “getting the right people on board the first time; we won’t have the luxury to make mistakes in the future.”

Planning and visioning: The beer fridge is no more. “We’re at the stage as a company where I’m not the answer to everything,” says Harris. “I continue to fill a visionary role for longer-term questions, but beyond that, I need to get the hell out of the way and let our amazing team do its work.”