DEAR ALUMNI AND FRIENDS,
There’s a saying: You can’t improve what you can’t measure.
It’s a philosophy that has animated the career of Norman Gottschalk Jr. ’67, who received the 2012 Alumni Heritage Award at the President’s Council Dinner in December. Norm is the president and CEO of Marmon Distribution Services, Inc., the largest specialty tubular products distributor in North America.
By all accounts Norm is a data-driven decision maker, a leader who believes, in his words, in “management by walking around”: talking to employees at all levels of the organization about their jobs, what they think works and what doesn’t, and what they would do to improve the company.
I’d like to think that Norm’s approach took root while he was an accounting student at Robert Morris. Norm certainly gives plenty of credit for his success to RMU, as you’ll read on page 8 of this edition of Foundations. “Everything we have to this day,” Norm says, speaking of himself and his wife, Patty, “our beautiful children, some of the things we’ve acquired, we all owe to this institution.”
It’s a testament to the high regard in which Norm holds his alma mater that his grandson Brett Carb chose to enroll here. Brett has lived with Norm and Patty since the death of his mother, who was the oldest of their four children. Because Norm took all his classes in downtown Pittsburgh, a visit with Brett was his first time on the Moon campus. Norm says it left quite an impression: “My mouth just dropped. I couldn’t believe this was Robert Morris. It was so different.”
Brett is now a junior, and the changes at RMU have continued apace, even since that first visit with his grandfather. We are pleased with the progress we’ve made, though – at the risk of sounding immodest – not entirely surprised. After all, we charted it all back in 2007 in our five-year strategic plan, which is detailed for you in a special section of this magazine. Not only did we set goals, we also specified how to measure our progress, which now allows us to identify the challenges and opportunities that we will tackle in our next strategic plan.
It’s the same formula that any smart organization follows to grow in a highly competitive industry, to thrive while navigating turbulent times. Just ask Norm Gottschalk. He might just tell you that he learned it here.
|GREGORY G. DELL’OMO, PH.D .