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by Russell Humphrey, Missouri Enterprise Area Business Manager

Russell Humphrey has been with Missouri Enterprise for over six years, and serves as the Area Business Manager for Southeast Missouri.  Russell takes a moment to share some of his philosophy on customer relationships and the value of Missouri Enterprise to manufacturers.

Q:    How do you view your role as an Area Business Manager?
A:    My job is providing an objective, analytical viewpoint to manufacturers, helping them recognize where they can improve and recommending ways to make those improvements.  We provide an incredible variety of expertise and services…nothing is “canned.”  That means another big part of my job is tapping into the expertise of our Project Manager team and creating individualized services that offer solutions and create positive ROI.  Remember, if all you’ve got is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail; fortunately, we’ve got a huge toolbox to choose from.

Q:      What are some of the main topics you find yourself discussing with manufacturers?
A:    People and growth.  There’s a recognized challenge out there to find and hire good people, and what I’m seeing is that when companies promote the right culture, start continuous improvement efforts on the factory floor and run things efficiently, they have much less trouble hiring and retaining good folks.  We can help companies improve the skills of their supervisors and managers with things like leadership training and TWI and more, and that can be a big help on the people problem.  And growth, helping people understand their customer base and the markets they serve, is another important way Missouri Enterprise can help…you’ve got to have data to understand who your customers really are and why they buy from you to effectively find more of them. And not many companies don’t want more customers.

Q:    You’ve been known to share a corny joke or two…any come to mind right now?
A:    Funny you should ask.  Two salespeople were sent to a third world country to sell shoes.  Shortly after arriving, the first salesperson phones the office and says, “It’s hopeless.  I’m catching the next flight home.  Nobody wears shoes here.”  The second emails the office and says, “I’ve never seen opportunity like this!  No one has shoes!”  I try to be the second guy.  I like to think the opportunity is there, and as I said before, when I approach manufacturers with an objective viewpoint…not trying to just sell them shoes for example…they usually can tell me where there could be better results.  I help them understand what’s available.  But I never go in trying to sell shoes or pushing some standard service…whenever I create a proposal, it’s based on what the client has told me will help them improve, combined with Missouri Enterprise’s expertise to guide them on good decisions.  It’s really a collaborative effort built on trust and understanding.

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