After running Sass Construction for 25 years, Mark Sass (Big50 2002) decided that he needed to create better balance between his work and his life. He wanted to continue running his Chanhassen, Minn., company, but he also wanted time for hobbies. “I thought … If I continue to do this for 10 more years, I'll be 60 and I won't have the energy to do the things I can do now,” he says. Much of his desire related to taking part in outdoor activities in Alaska with his son.
He began delegating his tasks a few years ago and opted to spread his responsibilities among three key employees: the managers in sales, production, and office administration, who each bring different strengths to the company. Though each member has autonomy over their division, they also team up to make decisions.
Sass says that the hand off of responsibilities has been a gradual process, and it still continues today. “I had to wean myself from getting involved in day-to-day work,” he says. Sass gave his three managers the autonomy to make decisions. He trained them to handle issues using role-play and although he may suggest solutions, he does not dictate what they should do.
Sales manager Traci Dokken oversees three salespeople and an estimator, and is responsible for marketing. To induce individuals to accept responsibility for their projects, Sass pays them a commission based on the job's gross profit. “If they meet the gross profit, they receive a full commission,” he says. If not, they only receive a portion. This plan ensures that they provide an acceptable package to production and stay involved as a consultant through the project's end.
Production manager Beth Rudnicki supervises an in-house crew of six as well as subcontractors. Office manager Steve Fligor manages finances and reviews the big picture. He provides projections and reports so that Sass can evaluate company performance.
Sass continues to network and participate in the industry and visits his son in Alaska for one to three months at a time throughout the year. “I've created a process where I'm less involved,” he says. “I watch to make sure we are making money and meeting revenues.”