When Timber Tech Truss was founded in 1980, it was a Lethbridge, Alberta, company operated by Derrill and Pearl Murphy. And it was all-consuming, as most family businesses are: “The strength of a family business is also its weakness, in that it’s the main topic of discussion around the dinner table. You can never escape it!” laughs Wendy Going, the Murphys’ daughter and, today, Timber Tech Truss’s Managing Partner and GM of its Calgary division. “I was very much engrossed in every detail of the organization from day one.”
Timber Tech Truss designs and manufactures structural components for the building industry, specifically residential roof and floor trusses. It has grown with the industry, which has been completely revolutionized since the 1980s; as Going describes it, roof trusses designed for homes in the early ’80s are simple garage packages today. “The entire truss industry has changed dramatically through technological advancements in manufacturing equipment, engineering software and our industry’s intellectual property or experience in truss design. Forty years ago, you had 20 truss types and standard engineering on each style. Today, everything is customized and can be extremely complex. Designing an engineered roof and floor system for a home will take an experienced design technician a full day, and up to four weeks for a multi-family or apartment-style project. To be successful in our industry, you must have a focus on high-end quality-management systems in both design and manufacturing of the product.”
Timber Tech Truss has always been recognized in southern Alberta as a family business. Wendy and her sibling grew up knowing that summertime and weekends would be filled with work. Despite the opportunity to join the family operation full-time, Going was on the path to becoming a teacher. But “as life goes, I was really drawn to the industry and its opportunities, so in 1997 I began working as a design technician in the family business.” By 2007, Going was launching a Calgary division and became the managing partner in the business. Today, she’s majority shareholder of the company and has made Timber Tech Truss an important player in the Alberta construction scene, with 120 employees and divisions in Medicine Hat and Calgary in addition to Lethbridge.
“Our Calgary division has grown by 40 percent since 2013 and is scaling our business through a recent acquisition this past March.”
It’s no coincidence that there was a spike in Timber Tech Truss’s growth after 2013, when Going became a QuantumShift fellow. “I have a handful of mentors who recommended that I apply for the QuantumShift program,” she explains. “At the time, I felt our company was doing great – the financials were healthy and I thought that was and should be my only gauge. QuantumShift exposed the importance and true reason for the success of our business and what leaders of an organization need to focus on, which is culture. Culture is created by knowing your Purpose, Vision and Core Values of the organization that you hire, fire and make daily decisions by. The calibre of the entrepreneurs attending QuantumShift, as well as the instructors and the facility, was impressive – it provided an almost immediate shift in the upward growth and success of our family business. We entered into a new era of strategic planning and an improved communication matrix that resulted in immediate cultural improvement and performance of our teams. Our business continues to grow despite the downturn in the Alberta economy. Our Calgary division has grown by 40 percent since 2013 and is scaling our business through a recent acquisition this past March.”
When she returned from QuantumShift, Going immediately got to work implementing her new approach by joining the peer-to-peer support network TEC Canada, which keeps her accountable. Then she did a staff purge and refocused the company’s attention on building great relationships and alignment with their customers, vendors and employees. “The results certainly show in our growth and our success,” she says. “We are very much focused on responsible growth of our team members and revenue – we’re not concerned with being the biggest, we’re concerned with being the BEST.”
A rigorous five-day executive development experience offered through The Ivey Academy, QuantumShift™ annually challenges forty of Canada's most promising entrepreneurs to improve their leadership style, inspire their business partners and maximize their growth opportunities. QuantumShift™ is for CEOs whose businesses are past start-up. They're innovative, insightful business leaders. And they're ready to shift a thriving enterprise to a whole new level of success. Candidates are nominated through KPMG Enterprise and participants are selected by Ivey Business School's Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship.
As QuantumShift™ turns 15, we check in with some of the more than 550 Canadian entrepreneurs who have graduated from the program to see what the experience meant to them and their business.