As the person in overall charge, Lou has planned and led significant growth in seven organizations, including autonomous business and military units, government organizations, and professional associations.
As used here, executive leadership means having final or major responsibility for the money, the people, the products, the facilities, and every other aspect of an organization. In addition to responsibility, it involves creativity, wide scope of action, and a major role in planning and realizing the future. Lou's qualifications for executive leadership include:
Four years of Navy Officer Training.
Four years commanding men aboard ships and in an autonomous commando unit.
An MBA degree from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.
Six years in middle management with Fortune 500 corporations.
Two years of turnaround P&L responsibility at an Inc. 500 company.
Fifteen years as owner of an entrepreneurial sales and management consulting company, concurrent with:
Eleven years as board officer and Chairman of a public institution with regional and statewide importance.
Lou has spent much of his life as a leader in elite organizations, most of them entrepreneurial in nature, and of small to medium size. He has an unbroken record of success in moving organizations to higher levels of performance. Most of his work has been in fast-changing, highly competitive fields where creativity, intelligence, character, flexibility and toughness are necessary qualities for success.
He is fully qualified by background, training, experience and temperament to be a top-level executive in organizations of hundreds of people. He has experience in all major areas of management, with noteworthy accomplishments in several. In top management roles, his activities have included significant interaction with people outside his own organization, including industry groups, elected officials, the public, and the press.
The following paragraphs provide a detailed summary of Lou's experience and accomplishments in executive leadership.
Training for Leadership
Lou's early leadership training was from the Officer Training Program of the United States Navy and the MBA Program of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business
For four years he was a Regular Midshipman in the Navy Officer Training Unit at Duke University. This program is designed to develop career officers for the Navy; it requires a demanding course of academic study, military drill, and summer training cruises. Every aspect of the program is aimed at preparing midshipmen for eventual command at sea, and no effort is spared in accomplishing that goal. Midshipmen learn to lead, to give and take orders, and to conduct themselves honorably while accomplishing difficult and important missions.
On being discharged from the Navy, Lou completed the MBA program at the University of Chicago. A Chicago education stresses the basic disciplines that underlie executive management—students are trained to become top executives, and are encouraged to reach for the stars. The courses are rigorous and very difficult. The Chicago approach develops the student's critical, analytical, problem-solving and decision-making capabilities. It equips him with the basic knowledge and analytical tools to cope with a lifetime of ever-changing business situations.
This early training has been very important to Lou throughout his working life. It has enabled him to proceed confidently as a leader in whatever situation he has found himself, and has helped him achieve whatever successes he has had.
Technical and Administrative Background
Lou has had a wide background in technical and administrative fields. He graduated in electrical engineering from Duke. As an FCC-licensed radio operator and as a designer and builder of equipment, he acquired practical skills to go along with his education. His Navy training included technical subjects such as navigation, weapons, communications, and shipboard damage control.
His MBA program featured courses on the functional areas of business: marketing, production, accounting, finance, and human resources. He has had successful work experience in every one of those fields.
On his own and as part of company training programs, Lou has completed courses in such subjects as real estate, finance and accounting, xray, electrocardiography, television, collecting past due accounts, presentation skills, marketing, and the techniques of professional sales. He has current skills in the use of computer systems, including programming. He has learned over eighty commercial software packages, and many of his programs have been published in print or electronic form.
As a communicator, he has taught courses at the college level, has written articles for national magazines, and has lectured nationally and internationally.
Experience as an Executive
Lou has held the following executive positions, the most recent ones listed first:
Owner, Louis F. Sander Associates. Entrepreneurial sales and consulting firm specializing in high tech medical equipment, management consulting and computer systems development. Although he sometimes had one or two employees, the company was basically a one-man operation that supported Lou's family and put his children through college.
Chairman of the Board, Northland Public Library Authority. A public institution with seventy employees and a seven figure operating budget. With the other board members and an extremely talented professional Director, Lou exercised or oversaw all top management functions of this organization. He was an extremely active contributor, leaving his mark on the organization from month to month, year to year, and decade to decade. During his tenure, the library grew from a storefront operation to the largest and best public library in Western Pennsylvania.
General Manager, E.I.L. Instruments, Inc. Lou had profit and loss responsibility for a self-contained operation that sells, services and calibrates sophisticated test equipment. It was a division of an Inc. 500 growth company. Lou turned the company around—when he went there, the owners were ready to close it; when he left, it was profitable and growing every month. It continued to be profitable for many years.
Assistant General Manager, Boise Cascade Bags & Specialty Products. Line management in a manufacturing plant. Helped reorganize this newly-acquired division. Supervised the production and inventory control, data processing and marketing departments. Created colorful catalogs that revitalized flagging sales.
Beach Jumper Officer, Navy Beach Jumper Unit TWO. Officer In Charge of an independent special warfare team sailing aboard destroyers. Received commendation for leadership ability. Communications officer. Staff participant in the creation of War Plans. Honorably discharged as Lieutenant, j.g.
Electronics Material Officer, USS Rankin, AKA-103. Commanded a division of men responsible for all the electronic equipment aboard this amphibious attack ship. The Electronics Division was failing when Lou took it over. After a year of his leadership, it was commended as the best in the Atlantic Fleet.
Aspects of Excellence
Lou's early experience was in organizations that exemplify high-level excellence, and demand it of their associates: Duke University is a major national institution. The United States Navy is the world's most powerful sea force. The University of Chicago is one of the world's leading universities. Their training taught Lou always to strive for excellence, and gave him the knowledge that he is capable of high achievement.
Much of Lou's later experience has also been in organizations exemplifying excellence—elite organizations that are among, or in some cases are, the very best in their field. Specifically:
The USS Rankin was one of the most award-winning ships ever to serve in the Navy. One year, she simultaneously held every award available to a fighting ship. The year Lou joined the ship, she had won the fleet-wide battle efficiency competition for five consecutive years, a feat never before accomplished. The Navy even created a new award, the "Gold E," in honor of Rankin's achievement. In Lou's area of responsibility, he was a significant contributor to her excellence.
Beach Jumper Unit TWO was an elite special warfare unit akin to the Navy SEALS and Underwater Demolition Teams, but not involving combat swimming. Its highly classified mission involves military intelligence and small-unit operations against the enemy. Its men learn bravery and independence, and its officers are involved in national defense activities at reasonably high levels. Lou was Officer-in-Charge of one of the unit's two major detachments, and participated in the planning of some very large military operations.
When he joined it after graduate school, Boise Cascade Corporation was among the best industrial companies for a recent MBA to work for, as it gave major responsibility to its youngest managers and executives. Lou helped reorganize one of the company's divisions.
E.I.L. Instruments was, during Lou's time there, one of the small companies featured by Inc. Magazine as among America's best. Its President, to whom Lou directly reported, was the Maryland Small Businessman of the Year while Lou worked for him. Lou was General Manager of one of its largest branches, and turned the business around.
Northland Public Library is the best suburban public library in Western Pennsylvania, and perhaps in the entire state. It receives national and international attention. Its operating costs are about half of those at similar libraries. For eleven years, Lou was its most active and highly involved Board Officer. During that time it grew from a simple storefront operation to its present status of excellence.
Lou's sales and marketing activities have also been with outstanding companies such as Motorola, Baxter Healthcare, Digital Equipment Corporation, Xerox, and Microsoft.
Executive Traits and Accomplishments
When Lou has been a leader of any organization, both his performance and his job satisfaction have been high. He has left a lasting mark wherever he has been in charge. His leadership has always featured constant improvement, new and unique accomplishments, and development of individual subordinates.
He has generally worked in small to medium-sized organizations—those with ten to 250 people in the unit he has been involved with. His accomplishments in large organizations include planning fifty-ship operations in the Navy, and doing corporate strategy for NCR Corporation.
Lou's results have always been financially good for the company, particularly in the areas of cost reduction and quality improvement. He knows the necessity of short term performance, but he is strongly oriented toward long term results and improvement. He always has his eye on this month and next month, on this year and next year, and also on the future. He expects that whatever he does will have long term positive results that will outlast his presence on the scene. In most cases, the improvements he has made have outlasted his tenure by many years.
Lou can relate to people at all levels of the organization, and to technical experts in any field. The atmosphere around him is one of respect for people and their needs, but if someone is in the way and can't be converted, he moves them out or gets rid of them. Reasonable efforts to accommodate are made, but when they don't work quickly, the organization's interest rules.
Over his career, Lou has developed expertise in many areas of management activity. His knowledge is broad enough to qualify him as a generalist, but he is a professional-level specialist in several areas, notably boardroom activities, high-level sales, technical marketing, writing for publication, and microcomputer systems. Because his experience is broad, things seldom arise that he hasn't handled or at least seen before. Specifically, he has meaningful knowledge, abilities and accomplishments in:
Building effective boards
Conducting effective meetings
Personnel and human relations
Service and maintenance
Accounting and financial analysis
If you would like to talk about these matters, or about anything else in these pages, please contact Lou.