Erick Laine, CEO of Alcas, Inc. manufacturers and markets some of the highest quality kitchen knives in the world under the brand name "Cutco.
One division makes the K-bar knife, the official knife of the U.S. Marine Corps
since World War II.
Its sales today are over $100 million worldwide.
But when Laine
took over as CEO in 1982, sales
were only $5 million.
That's a 2000 percent increase in a field that older, established brands from Europe once dominated.
When Erick became CEO of Alcas, his manufacturing arm was in disarray.
In a nine year period prior to his
becoming boss, there wasn't a single contract that was settled without a strike!
There were no less than 270 outstanding grievances on the books!
He was born in Finland, and in addition to integrity, his parents taught him something that doesn't translate easily into English.
The word in Finnish is "Sisu.
"Sisu" means a sort of stubborn persistence wrapped up with sheer guts.
knows what he
is doing, and he
is no pushover.
truly cares about his
people and he
insists on treating them fairly.
met with his
union in a spirit of openness and listened.
And when the union was right, he
And when he
thought they were full of bologna, he
told them that, too.
But then, a strange thing happened.
always accepts the money on behalf of management, but then he
always uses the money to purchase something that will benefit the workers like TV for the cafeteria or a clock . . . that type of thing.
Now why do you think the workers and their union do this?
Obviously they could just collect the money and go out and buy something themselves.
didn't tell me this, but I believe this informal ceremony during which Laine
is presented with this money is a symbol of the trust between Alcas' union and management, between the company leaders and their workers.
It is rare and unprecedented.
It happens only because Erick Laine