Corporate America must rebuild its reputation and trust with society by sticking to unchanging values and principles, the chief executive officer of one of the nation's top service companies said Wednesday.
M. Anthony Burns spoke on "Corporate and Personal Strategies" as part of Westminster College's Weldon J. Taylor Executive Lecture Series. Burns is the chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Miami-based Ryder System Inc."(After insider-trading scandals) business must upgrade the reputation it has with society. Values and principles are more important in this ever- changing world," he said. He said while business will likely be ever changing, the bedrock of ethics should not be.
He said in his life the objectives of personal and corporate success have become synonymous. Service, quality and growth are key elements in the company's mission statement.
"We see it in government and in other businesses. Individuals want to be of service. Companies want to be of service. That combinations really works," he said.
With that service philosophy, in eight years the company has risen to become the No. 1 service company in terms of assets, according to a yet-to-be released Fortune study. It is also ranked in the top three service companies in terms of revenues and earnings. Ryder is now the nation's largest truck-leasing company and has passed up U-Haul in consumer-transport rentals, Burns said.
"Being a leader allows us to control our future and destiny. Those that follow have no control," he said. The future has included diversification into aviation leasing, aviation part sales and jet engine overhaul services.
"We're not just the yellow truck people," he said.
The company's highest priority, said Burns, is providing a quality service through quality employees. Part of that quality approach is paying more attention to employees through decentralization of management and training programs.
"Doing it right the first time and every time is a good way to do business," he said.
Burns, a Brigham Young University graduate, said the nation must rise to the challenges of meeting the basic needs of people and providing better leadership.
Basic needs should be met by education and by businesses' retooling their approach to the future work force. To meet the demands of the future, companies must begin to court more women, minorities and immigrants. Corporate contributions to public education should also increase.
"Not only is it the moral thing to do, but it is good business," said Burns.