Dhar Dhaliwal, CEO of Wesgroup Equipment, has a background in accounting, so it’s no surprise that his management style is driven by numbers. “We always have multiple data points we’re looking at, including feedback from employees, marketplace comparisons and customer comments,” he says.
Those numbers come from acting as an equipment dealer to the construction, forestry and other industries. Dhaliwal, who joined as vice-president of finance in 2010 and moved into his current role in 2014, describes it succinctly: “We’re like a car dealership, but we also sell equipment, service it, provide parts and offer rentals.”
Wesgroup Equipment is the parent company of Westerra Equipment and Williams Machinery, with a head office in Surrey, B.C., and eight locations across the province. In addition to construction and forestry, they work with agriculture, mining and landscaping, and also work as dealers for product lines that include Bobcat, Doosan, Vermeer, Ammann, Konecranes, Linde and Clark.
Dhaliwal believes the smartest way to deliver profitable growth for the company is seeking metrics on how the top dealers in his industry perform. “We use those metrics to compare the performance of every department, whether it’s sales, rentals, administrative costs,” he says. “It gives us a metric to measure ourselves and our budgets against.”
Those metrics are useful when it comes to putting together very specific goals across the company, but when it comes to setting strategy, Dhaliwal also likes to implement an exercise called “what’s working and not working.” The exercise starts with a core group of senior leaders; each leader is expected to come up with one or two pieces of feedback. The exercise is repeated with a bigger management group, and feedback is grouped into categories. The focus then shifts to turning these items into specific initiatives and projects.
The result is a very clear and focused one-page plan that accounts for values, mission, vision and strategic priorities. “We’re very transparent and we post it throughout the company to keep everyone aligned and focused,” says Dhaliwal. Wesgroup Equipment’s strategy eventually trickles down to individual goals for each of their 170 employees, with clear objectives linked to a bonus program.
Dhaliwal credits these strategies with year-over-year revenue growth for the past three years, despite the slowdown in Western Canada. “We get people involved as early as we can, and we share strategy with everyone,” he says. “It’s really about figuring out clear goals and how each and every person can contribute.”