Core Values: A Powerful Two-Way Contract

by Kevin O’Neill, president and CEO, Steele Solutions Inc. and MHI Chairman

Core values are a big buzzword in business today. They can be very powerful—but not if they’re just a phrase on a plaque or piece of artwork in the conference room. At Steele Solutions, our core values guide what we do every day. They’ve helped us deliver more value to our customers by identifying what’s most important and incorporating it. Validation came in 2022 when we were honored with a Best Places to Work award by the Milwaukee Business Journal. We were the only manufacturer to win the award in the Extra Large (over 250 employees) category.

Core values are a way to make sure you have the right people in the right seats at your company. As an owner of Steele Solutions since 1997, I’ve learned that it’s true what they say: The worst behavior you’re willing to accept is what sets your company’s culture. I’ve heard some crazy core values, like “Don’t be a jerk.” I’ve also heard some values that are so basic that they don’t say much at all, things like “respect” or “honesty.” How about we raise the bar together?

In this, the inaugural guest column from members of the MHI Board of Directors, I’d like to offer a few thoughts about our company’s own core values journey, and what we’ve learned along the way. . .

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