Craig Deimler, vice president of Deimler & Sons Construction in Harrisburg, Pa., is a true believer in ongoing education . . . especially when it comes to running his business.

“I want to be the best, so there's no way short of continual learning,” Deimler says. “To identify the areas on which to focus, we review our [company's] strengths and weaknesses. Once we identify areas that need improvement, I begin looking for information to help.”

Much of the information he gathers comes from best-selling business management books written by experienced business-people and management gurus alike. Deimler believes that, although the examples in these books often come from other industries, the principles espoused apply just as directly to his multimillion dollar remodeling company as to any other business.

“These books are typically written by people who have tons of experience, in some form or another, managing and growing companies,” he says. “Although I may not agree with everything, I always learn something — even if it's that the ideas in a particular book don't fit our company!”

A prodigious reader, he usually has several books open at once. Deimler says that he works hard to choose books that have come highly recommended — from members of his peer group, from industry colleagues, or from magazines. “I was reading REMODELING when I came across a small article about the book Fish!, about creating a motivating workplace,” he says. “This led me to read the book and to then order the video, which we'll view and discuss as a team. It's important to me that we have a fun workplace and I felt many of the philosophies in this book fit wonderfully with where I want us to be.”

He advises, “Be selective about what you read and what you try to apply. You definitely want to avoid the ‘flavor of the month' syndrome of starting in a new direction every month and then not following through with your commitments. Choose fewer ideas that fit well with your vision of the company and then stick with them.”

Deimler remembers a time when his employees would roll their eyes whenever he would discuss a new idea. But now, things have changed. “I realized that I had to remain committed to the ideas that I felt would make a difference for us,” he says. “Once my team saw that I wasn't going to let the top ideas go, they got on board and now look forward to discussing the things that I read about.”

Craig Deimler's Top Picks

  • The Great Game of Business, by Jack Stack
  • Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable ... About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business, by Patrick M. Lencioni
  • Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators, by Patrick M. Lencioni
  • Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, Charles Burck
  • —Victoria Downing is president of Remodelers Advantage, Fulton, Md. 301.490.5620.