Summary of Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family


About the company and the author Bob Chapman:

Chapman is Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, a capital equipment and engineering consulting firm with more than 8,000 team members worldwide. After seeing the positive impact of Barry-Wehmiller’s people-centric culture on the lives of his employees, Chapman felt compelled to raise awareness about business enterprise’s opportunity to become the most powerful positive influence on our society.1

Chapman took over the reins of the privately-owned Barry-Wehmiller upon his father’s death in 1975, when it was a struggling bottle washer business. Since then, the single-market company has grown into a corrugating, packaging, and paper converting equipment and consulting conglomerate through strategic acquisition, operational expertise and commitment to, as Chapman likes to say, “the lives within my care.” Today, $2 billion Barry-Wehmiller is a combination of more than 75 acquired companies spread across 100 locations around the globe. Since 1987, it has continued a pattern of 15 percent compound growth in revenue and share value. 1


Everybody Matters Summary

Like the book title suggests Everybody Matters is a book about human centric leadership culture, and the beginning describes the uneasy situation where Bob Chapman was put when his father suddenly had a heart attack and he had to take over the company. Also it describes the many challenges that came after that.

In midst of the survival he and his colleagues also had several insights, for example “why can’t business be fun” or “there is no such thing as an underperforming team, only underperforming leaders.”

First they had to find a successful way to stay alive, not to go bankrupt in the near future. Barry-Wehmiller company was still back then in (around 1970’s) in distillery equipment business, which wasn’t so profitable. In short they judged that they need to grow both organically and through acquisitions. Or as Bob put it “We need to start making acquisitions so we can access markets and technology that can give us a better future.”

Once the immediate risk of bankruptcy was dealt with, still getting financing for acquisitions wasn’t an easy task. They recognized that could only afford business that no-one else wanted to buy.  Instead of giving up, they decided to work with this risk position and be creative. With work and creativity they had turned Barry-Wehmiller profitable. Why they couldn’t do this elsewhere too?

At Barry-Wehmiller, they believed that the business growth and people growth are not separate ideas, but complementing each other in a virtuous cycle.

“People were showing us that they were capable of things we hadn’t imagined. All it took was a different way of leading in which people knew their goals and the score at all times and were inspired as individuals and teams to achieve them.”

Take away for any company is to make truly fun and rewarding. Not so that just somebody wins, but the whole team wins. As an example: “Let’s create a game. Whoever sells the most parts each week wins. If the team makes the team goal, the team also wins.”

One red flag, is not truly celebrating peoples’ achievements by this I mean for example exaggerating people’s accomplishments when the whole recognition becomes meaningless. I’ve witnessed and felt what exaggeration can create, it destroys the positive and sends a signal that your accomplishment wasn’t good enough after all.

Bob Chapman also recognized the way bigger picture and responsibilities that the companies have. It is that of the responsibility and how does the leadership affect the emotional lives of the employees. And the families of those employees. Good or bad leadership does affect, how people who go home treat each other after the work day.

One line to get applied to everyday leadership is this:  “Look for the goodness in people and recognize and celebrate it daily.”

This conscious capitalism and responsibility of the world at large, is what I found very inspiring the book. I certainly recommend you to read the whole book as this was, but a rather small dip in the lake.


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