Aires was founded in 1981 by Jim Putt as an international household goods forwarding company. As client needs evolved, so did Aires; we’ve grown to be a technology-focused, people and process-driven, full- service global mobility company. That all started with Jim Putt’s dream to break out on his own and start a new company. Recently, we sat down with Jim to discuss the company’s journey and what he learned along the way. Below, we’ve gathered a few words of wisdom from that conversation.
WORK HARD AND TAKE CALCULATED RISKS
“I was born and raised on a farm. I did everything you do on a farm, and I learned what hard work was about right from the beginning. My father always said if you want to get anywhere in life, get your hands dirty, get in there and do things yourself. When I was hired in the moving business, my job was inside sales, but the company’s philosophy was when you’ve found the right person, train them on all aspects of the business. I spent months learning each piece of the moving business and was moved into an outside sales position. That was the beginning of my desire to stay in the business and grow. I knew the only way I was going to become independent was to know everything there was to know about moving. I took every opportunity to take on new challenges and experiences.”
“The biggest risk I ever took was making the decision to leave the security of a paycheck, taking my life savings and starting the company. I set up a small office and went to work in the international moving business. I’d come from an established company and I had a following as their international moving specialist. When I decided to make the move, I announced the new company and received a lot of positive feedback from relationships established in the industry. Those strong relationships led us to profitability within the first 18 months.”
TAKING TIME FOR YOU IS TAKING TIME FOR YOUR COMPANY
“Things moved so fast after I started the company that I didn’t take a vacation for nine years. I never even stopped to look back to the beginning to see how far we’d come. I finally took a family vacation and went to Virginia Beach for a week. On the flight, I started to really think about all the years I’d put into this, the time that had gone by (and how fast it went by), and that I hadn’t ‘stopped to smell the roses.’ I took that time to really reflect on the successes and take a look at how far we’d come as a company. It wasn’t just a success for me, it was success for everyone employed by the company.
That vacation and reflection reinvigorated me. In that time off, not only was I relaxing, but I was thinking about the things that I wanted to do when I got back in order to move the company to the next level. We had to start working as a team and covering for each other better. I didn’t like customers calling and having to be called back. I wanted every call answered; we had small teams of three and four that covered each other and more importantly covered the customer. To this day, Aires still has that type of team and attitude in the company.”
“The first thing that a good leader has to have is charisma. This is a word very few people understand the meaning of. It’s a quality that makes people attracted to them; they want to talk to them and they trust them.
Another thing a good leader must have is the ability to treat everyone – friends, employees, and customers – as if they are your boss. I worked to make my employee’s job easier; they would tell me what would help them succeed, and then I would go to work to ensure that success.
A good leader has to be totally true and honest to themselves and everyone they come in contact with. When you make a commitment, you live with that commitment, and you make it happen. That builds trust not just in the person you commit to but also in everyone around that person.
Finally, a good attribute for a leader is listening skills. Don’t talk; listen. Asking questions is the key to making this happen. When someone would come to me with a problem, I would ask questions. And then I’d just listen. Allowing the employee to just talk often leads to them solving their own problem.”
“My proudest moment at Aires was when I was able to make a decision to semi-retire. I knew in order to do that, I had to train and teach other people to manage all of my responsibilities. I strategically selected a handful of people to learn all of the things I did. I slowly moved things to a state where I wouldn’t do anything. These leaders would come to me with a question, and I’d push the question right back to them, asking questions to help them develop options for how to manage, and I’d trust they would ultimately manage things on their own. I’m so proud that I was able to say, 'I’m no longer needed here, but I’m always just a phone call away.’”
“Imagine that you’re on your future deathbed and looking back on your life. Start doing the things now that will make you proud when you look back.”
“To anyone beginning their career, you probably don’t know where you’re going to end up or what field you’re going into. But no matter where you start, learn every possible thing you can about that business. No matter what you learn about it will apply to all businesses, and you can take it with you to your next job. As your career progresses, people around you will take notice that your attitude is to take on any challenge. These are the traits that will move you up the ladder and lead to a successful career.”