Month: March 2020

March 27, 2020

Hire Smarter Episode 09: Chris Kliefoth, Advisor and former CEO of Nationwide Industries


Welcome to our 9th episode of Hire Smarter. Our mission is simple: to educate building industry leaders with best practices for hiring talent while helping professionals make better career decisions.

This is a longer episode with some important information we don’t want you to miss – so we’ve outlined some key moments below. 

0:45 – Introduction

2:05 – Chris shares how he got into the industry

10:25 – One of Chris’ greatest successes & failures

19:50 – Lessons learned from Chris’ greatest mentor, Peter Dachowski

46:35 – The importance of a blameless culture

49:55 – Leading through a crisis & how to handle the current situation

54:35 – How the coronavirus is different from other economic crashes

56:05 – Chris shares the most critical step to crush your competition

1:12:40 – Closing thoughts & take-aways

In this episode, we address coronavirus (COVID-19) and leadership through uncertain times. Under normal circumstances, most leaders face the challenge of controlling emotions and remaining fact-based and disciplined in their decision-making skills. The current shock over the virus epidemic and economic whipsaw is causing panic, fear and impulsive decisions from many leaders in the industry. Our guest today is Chris Kliefoth, a client but also, most importantly, a long-time industry friend. Over the years, Chris is a proven leader with ice water in his veins – he does not get rattled. His career came up through Morgan Products, the millwork distribution business now owned by Andersen Windows, eventually joining CertainTeed, where he built and led the cement siding business. He then went on to grow Nationwide Industries from $10m to $70m in sales, surpassing the private equity ownership’s profit expectations. Today, Nationwide Industries is a manufacturer of fencing hardware and locks serving contractors, dealers, OEM, and wholesalers nationally. Chris is generous and candid with sharing insightful responses to the following questions:

How were Chris’s most significant success and failure both wrapped in building the CertainTeed Cement Siding Division?

What are the greatest lessons learned from his mentor? (Peter Dachowski – CEO of Saint Gobain Isover/ CertainTeed Corp from 1996- 2011)

What are the core elements of leadership communication?

How do you avoid tunnel vision leading through a crisis?

How do you gain an advantage over your competition during a crisis?

Do you know what your strategy switching costs are?

What are the biggest mistakes you should be waiting for your weakest competitors to make?

Chris’s answers to these questions are direct, simple and actionable for every leader. What steps are you taking to fight PTSD from 2008/2009? What are the many ways this situation is different? Access to cash and market liquidity, relatively low debt in the construction industry, short supply of homes and apparent pent up demand.

In the 2008/2009 crash, the weakest leaders did not react quickly enough. What if in 2020 the mistake is cutting people too fast? Ask yourself, what is the fatal error your competition is waiting for you to make?


Hire Smarter – Tony Misura


March 23, 2020

Staying productive and positive while socially distant

Everyone is doing their part to “flatten the curve” by staying at home and remaining socially distant. This can take a toll on physical and emotional wellness, for both extroverts and introverts alike. Here are a few resources to help you stay positive and productive during this time.

Working from home? How to stay productive:

  • Establish a routine
  • Create structure
  • Move around!
  • Reduce stress
  • Stay connected

Read more:

Stay connected and collaborative:

Working remotely doesn’t have to mean working alone. Here are a few tools to help teams stay collaborative and connected:


Zoom Video Conferencing

Microsoft Teams


Google Hangouts

Extra time on your hands? Now is a great time for personal and professional development!

Binged about as much Netflix as you can handle? Instead use your free time to update your resume, improve your LinkedIn profile, or learn a new skill!

10 resume writing tips from

20 steps to a better LinkedIn profile in 2020

Learn Google Analytics with a free course

What we’re listening to:

With the abundance of video and the increasing popularity of podcasts, there is a lot of excellent content to keep you informed and entertained. Here are a few ideas from what our team is listening to right now.

The surprising habits of original thinkers

HBR IdeaCast

Before Breakfast

Behind Your Back

Hire Smarter

Clear your mind:

Exercising your mind is just as important (if not more) than physical exercise during a time of social distancing. Meditation can be an excellent way to stay sharp, stay positive, and clear your head.

Free meditations from Headspace


March 13, 2020

Hire Smarter Episode 08: Todd Drummond, Truss and Component Industry Consultant


Welcome to our 8th episode of Hire Smarter. Our mission is simple: to educate building industry leaders with best practices for hiring talent while helping professionals make better career decisions.

It’s a quickly evolving world in the commercial and residential construction and building products supply chain. The first phase was recognizing the industry’s inefficiencies. Now we are well into the second, which is “what to do about it.” As most already know, McKinsey & Company, the worldwide respected consulting firm, has delivered some great research data and foresight to the industry.

The truss and component industry is front and center providing solutions. The dealers who are most effectively alleviating the onsite labor constraints for general contractors will continue to gain share. With this new state of the industry in mind, we are excited to have Todd Drummond, who has been an operator, consultant and leader to the truss and components industry for his entire career. Todd is generous, candid and sometimes direct in helping us raise our level of awareness to a few critical questions:

What is the industry average profit for a truss plant, when owned by a manufacturing company? 

How is that different from the industry average profit for truss plants owned by a lumber, millwork and building products dealer?  

What are the differences in team culture and financial performance between a below average or above average Truss Plant General Manager? 

What are the most common misconceptions and pitfalls in running a truss plant?

What would have a greater impact on leaders, a higher IQ or a higher level of humility?

Todd is clear in delivering direct answers.  Conservatively, LBM dealers are leaving behind 10 points of profit on a $10m truss plant, that is $1,000,000 uncaptured profit. Todd outlines how most LBM dealers have truss and components that make up 10-20% of their sales but deliver 50% of the entire company profits. The demand for the product, high profit opportunity, and unique specialization of skillset requires dedicated attention. Lumber dealers committed to moving banded 2×4 units in and out as fast they can struggle with embracing the complexity and value of manufacturing. What is more important, a higher IQ or greater humility?  Consistently overcoming the need to make other people think you know the answers might the best step in improving your truss plant.

Our clients have been impacted by Todd’s holistic consulting approach of supporting leaders, delivering results for years. Dealer leaders – if your truss plants are underperforming, give Todd a call for his custom playbook tailored to your business. If you have the right playbook and your truss plant leader is still underperforming, give us a call here at Misura Group. Remember, giving me the Green Bay Packers’ playbook is not going to make me an NFL QB, much less Aaron Rodgers. It might be time to embrace the reality that your draft pick was a mistake.

Hire Smarter – Tony Misura


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