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The Welsh Wire: Tom Olive, Crystal Flash

Crystal Flash was founded 85 years ago as a one-truck fuel distributor. Today, it is one of Michigan’s largest propane retailers with 270 workers. Since 2016 it has been an employee-owned company through an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). At that time, President and CEO Tom Olive rolled out an updated and refined organizational strategy based on the balanced scorecard (BSC) strategic planning and management system.

“We had been very much an open book company and so there was a general familiarity with our finances and the general direction that the company was headed, but we wanted to refine that and make sure that folks felt like and acted like employee-owners who had a stake in the game,” Tom tells Sheri Welsh in their interview for The Welsh Wire. Crystal Flash made a concerted effort to communicate and deploy their strategy down to the the daily, weekly and monthly activities of all workers. “We’ve had some comments like, oh, you know, now I understand why you’re asking me to do that. Or you go through (performance) reviews and and some folks will say things like, oh, wow, that’s the best review I’ve had in years because it’s based on this data. I can see what you’re asking me to do and how it fits into the big picture,” he says.

Crystal Flash has had three consecutive years of record earnings growth since implementing the new strategy. “We know where we’re going, folks are fired up and turned on, they know what to do on a day-to-day basis,” Tom says.

Listen to Sheri’s entire interview with Tom Olive.

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