With growth as a goal, Carlos Tellez crafts a strategy for success at Storeroom Solutions
With an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and a master’s from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Carlos Tellez brings a unique background to his current role. “I’ve had a varied career,” he says, which is definitely an understatement. Tellez has worked for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the US Office of Management and Budget. He joined Lockheed Martin and supported the cleanup of nuclear sites operated by the Department of Energy, followed by a position at Fluor, an engineering and construction company. Now as president and CEO of Storeroom Solutions, Tellez focuses his passion and expansive expertise on developing a world-class materials management organization where the people and its clients come first.
Structuring for Sustainable Growth
The challenge facing Tellez at Storeroom Solutions was straightforward: continue to grow the business by expanding the customer base while maintaining the company’s employee- and customer-oriented culture. “While we understood the importance of adding new business, we also wanted to continue to provide a high level of service to existing customers,” Tellez explains. “Quite frankly, it came down to how well our employees adapted to growth and performed in their jobs.”
Up Close & Personal
Getting to know Carlos Tellez
What do you do to relax?
I spend time with my family. My wife and I have three boys that range in age from 8 to 17, and they’re all very active—in sports, outdoor stuff, Boy Scouts, all those kind of things. Our weekends are pretty full, and as a family we enjoy outdoor activities as well.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My folks had been very involved in a lot of civic activities, but I never really went down the political path. I wanted to be one of two things—either the governor of New Mexico or an astronaut.
What advice would you give to young adults who want to carve their own path in the business world?
My parents didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to go to college, and they always drummed into me and my sisters the whole point of working hard at school and getting a good education. They knew the way forward was through education and working hard, and staying true to your faith and your principles.
One way Storeroom Solutions manages that growth while remaining efficient and effective is by putting significant effort into developing its existing employees. In addition to recruiting new team members from outside, they know it’s important to be able to move qualified people along internally, as well. “Growth really means a lot of opportunity for people within the company to develop and take on new responsibilities,” Tellez says. And because the organization continues to expand its service offerings to clients, allowing them to focus on manufacturing products rather than managing the details of materials inventory and procurement, a strong customer-focused attitude remains a cornerstone for every Storeroom employee.
By creating exciting and challenging career paths, employees are able to achieve their professional goals while the company retains their long-term knowledge. “It’s really about trying to provide opportunities for people within the company that have proven they can really step up to the next level,” Tellez says. “For example, some of our operations vice presidents began their careers as site managers or attendants, and progressed to successively higher levels in the organization in a relatively short period of time.” By supporting employee development and providing team members with the tools to excel in their current roles—along with preparing them for long-term career growth—the company fosters a tremendously positive work environment. Tellez believes this contributes to the company’s strong culture and also explains why voluntary turnover is less than 8 percent.
Rounding Out the Team
As the company continued to grow and expand, the leadership understood that the internal support framework needed to be more robust. Human resources is in the best position to impact all areas of the company, and that’s the group Tellez focused on first. “We brought in a seasoned HR professional who, in addition to broad human resources expertise, had specific experience working with organizations that had similar cultures and maintained a solid rate of growth,” Tellez says. “HR is really a key business partner within our company.” This vision to foster a stronger internal support structure not only expanded HR’s function and reach, it also allowed the company to increase its core service offerings, including sourcing expertise, IT and technology systems, and strategic services.
In addition to the changes within the leadership team, work began on improving the technology platform that forms the heart of how the company operates. The team’s requirements were unique, and since there wasn’t an off-the-shelf solution in the marketplace that could fit their needs, they decided to develop their own in-house system to handle procurement inventory management and other operational functions. “We hired a vendor to do the coding, but at the time it was really one of the first systems that was truly web-based that could tie all of our sites together,” Tellez says. The company operates in 45 states as well as Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica, and they have plans to develop industrial pockets abroad. The ability to manage operations across the globe is crucial, and as new innovations enable even more comprehensive solutions, Tellez says they’re keen to keep pace. “There’s a lot of new technology that can really benefit our customers, and because technology is always changing, we’ll continue to evaluate new platforms against the evolving needs of the market.”
Maintaining the Culture
The bedrock of Storeroom’s culture are the founding principles put in place by the firm’s founder and chairman when the company first began. Respect, honesty, and integrity are part of every decision, and management is held accountable to make these values truly live throughout the organization. “These aren’t just words on paper,” Tellez says. The principles influence everything from how the company makes decisions to how suppliers, customers, and employees are treated. “Our client retention and rate of new client acquisition is a testament to Storeroom really embracing these principles,” Tellez says.
On example Tellez offers is the principle of integrity, which he believes is crucial to the company’s ability to attract new customers and maintain strong business relationships. “We work in a business with many competitors, and as a results, many pricing models. But we pride ourselves on always being transparent,” he explains. Employees are expected to conduct themselves with integrity when dealing with customers, suppliers, shareholders, and—most importantly—each other.
Growth and culture continue to happily cohabitate at Storeroom Solutions, and the company has been able to maintain its sense of self even as it has expanded at a rate of nearly 20 percent each year. “I firmly believe we have the right people in the right places at the right time to take our business to the next level,” Tellez says. He has seen the team rise to challenges and recover from setbacks, all with a positive, can-do attitude, and he believes that level of commitment will sustain the company’s culture into the future. “With the kind of talent we have, I know we will achieve great things,” Tellez says