Kyle Benusa, GB’12, is the president of Shapes Precision Manufacturing in Palm Bay, Fla.

Shapes Precision Manufacturing is a manufacturing company specializing in machining, welding, and fabrication of metal products.  Benusa began his role with Shapes in July of 2013.  Benusa was tasked with directing the company’s turnaround which required an overhaul of the company, including finance and accounting, operations, sales and marketing, and overall business strategy.

He shares his thoughts on handling surprises in a business, and how to maintain a balance within a company.

“I’ve been in my current position for nearly three years.  To be candid, our business hasn’t always gone according to plan.  We’ve had times when it feels like we’re only addressing surprises. Sometimes these surprises have been negative, like customers cancelling orders or terminating contracts, or employees quitting.  But we’ve also had good surprises like the unexpected award of a large program from a key customer.  I’ve learned that to manage through these events, I’ve had to balance conviction with agility.

By conviction, I mean a deeply held belief that you have regarding your business.  This belief forms the core of your strategy and acts as the foundation for almost every decision that you make.  An important thing to recognize is that decisions are not made in a static environment.  For instance:

-       Customer demand may ebb and flow;

-       Your employee base may change;

-       Your supply chain might expand or contract;

-       Your investors’ appetite for risk might wane. 

 In the end, you have to learn to separate isolated events and day-to-day chatter from meaningful and fundamental shifts in the landscape that should impact your long-term planning and strategy.

In the absence of conviction, nearly everything seems meaningful and impactful.  One customer’s cancellation of a purchase order suddenly means that markets are shifting and demand is shrinking.  Lack of support from the investors on a single capital project means their risk appetitive has shifted.  Without conviction, we extrapolate and amplify isolated events into long-term trends.  We then adjust our strategy and reallocate resources according to our newly held view of the business.  Management without conviction results in a business in a constant state of change and it can threaten to kill a business.

Unchecked however, conviction alone can also kill a business because the environment around us is ever-changing.  As managers, we cannot ignore these changes and we cannot ignore new information.  This is where agility becomes a necessity.  We must remain agile enough to tweak our strategy over time to account for changing conditions or new information.  The absence of agility can result in a business dead-set on meeting goals that are imperfect or outdated by the time a business reaches them. 

For me the key was to learn when to remain true to my beliefs and stay the course and when to adjust and adapt the business.  My advice to you is to learn how to gather the right information, learn to separate fact from fiction and the important from the unimportant, and learn to distinguish between isolated events and trends and patterns.”

Benusa graduated from The Richmond MBA program in spring of 2012, and soon after began his work at Shapes. He says, his experience here in Richmond changed how he approached his new role.

“The University of Richmond MBA program provided me with the tools needed to know what information to gather in the first place,” Benusa said. “I learned how to analyze that information, and how to determine the best path forward.”

You can learn more about Shapes Precision Manufacturing here.