The Road To Respect

The road to becoming a regional manager at Ozarc Gas (Cape Girardeau, MO) was an eventful journey for me. Like a lot of family business members, I started by painting cylinders and loading trucks as a teenager. Along the way, I took two years off from working at the company to join the Navy, where I served in Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Australia and Singapore. When I returned, I finished college, earning a B.S. in business administration from Southeast Missouri State University.

After I graduated, I helped run the fill plant and ran distribution trucks between our stores. From there, I went on to a route truck position before I moved south to manage one of our branches about 16 years ago. When we opened a second branch, I became the manager of that branch as well, and, 18 months ago, I returned to our headquarters to assume my current role as regional manager.

While in the Navy, I learned a lot about leadership. From officers who led by example and took pride in their service, I learned how to gain the respect of others. Just as important, from other officers I learned how not to lead. In any business, you earn management positions by developing your skills over many years. It is important not to take your position for granted and to treat everyone with respect. This is a strong guiding principle in my personal management style. I believe that it’s important always to confer with my team and be open to thoughts and ideas from everyone. I encourage them to take ownership of the decision-making process.

Finding New Solutions
Along with managing three stores and eight associates at these locations, I am closely involved with the company’s website through my role as liaison between our management team and the Web design company. I keep the website up-to-date with current company news and events and I help manage our associate intranet, which provides training presentations, human resources documents and a scorecard for Ozarc’s quality control program.

Another project I oversee is upgrading our inventory information system. Through this effort, we are making our system both more effective and more user-friendly for our outside and inside salespeople. The newer, more intuitive system will have the benefit of recommending alternative parts when a requested one is not available and will provide real-time information that would normally require a salesperson to call the purchasing department.

I am always looking for ways to make our operations more efficient. By evaluating our processes and being open to input from our associates, we can come to find the best solutions together.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
James Garner is a regional manager for Ozarc Gas Equipment & Supply in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and on the Web at