Ron Bast is president of Richfield-based GO Riteway Transportation Group. In October 2010, Riteway purchased GO Airport Connection, providing transportation to Mitchell International and O'Hare airports. The combined company employs more than 900 people in Wisconsin and has a fleet of more than 650 vehicles providing shuttle and commuter transportation services. For Bast, the success of any company starts with its workers, who then in turn treat customers well.
"We have been able to expand due to our quality, well-trained workforce; through good community and environmental stewardship; and by implementing new business strategies that build upon past accomplishments. The best advice I could offer comes from what I have lived, and that is to put the right people into jobs that fit them, and treat employees and your customers like family. If you conduct your daily operations fairly and honestly, you'll build trusting, long-term relationships with your customers.
"When you lead with a 'let's make it happen,' attitude, others will assist you by doing the same. By expanding into areas where you already have expertise, you'll not only capitalize on economies of scale, you'll gain valuable talent. By staying active in your industry associations, you'll have the opportunity to tap others' expertise when required. Usually there's someone that's been through what you're going through. Be generous with your time and talent. If someone needs a rope, throw them one; you'll be rewarded.
"Stay focused on your business and ahead of the trends and policies most likely to impact customer perception or sales. For example, knowing that sustainability is a big issue in ground transportation, we've moved to convert 31 of our airport shuttle vehicles to operate on propane gas and added hybrid vehicles to our school bus fleet. When you know you're of service to your industry and in your community, you know you're heading in the right direction – because in reality, service is at the heart of every business."