Mills James joins Smart 50 class of 2016
The Smart 50 award is far more than a nicely engraved trophy for the lobby. It represents affirmation from an independent third-party panel that we’re on the right track, recognized along with 49 other companies of all shapes, sizes and industries that share a common drive toward innovation, impact and sustainability.
The process of filling out the nomination form and completing the detailed essays required us to look deeply and introspectively into the core of our company, and be objective about what we have [and haven’t] accomplished.
One of the judging criteria is ‘Innovation.’ We’re quick to adopt and commercialize new developments in video, AV, high-end event technology and digital signage. Looking back, we were surprised at how many ‘firsts’ we’ve had – first in the market with a studio complex built specifically for that purpose; first in the region to introduce high-definition cameras and editing; first to deploy directional line-array speakers for live events; first production company in the area with a drone aircraft for aerial cinematography, and many more. And although we’re not purposefully striving to be first at anything, it just goes with the territory when you’re a high-tech service business like we are.
But innovation is more than just a matter of equipment… it’s about re-inventing how we think and work. We partnered with The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence at the Fisher College of Business to help us analyze our procedures and develop improved processes that deliver extraordinary client experiences even more consistently.
Another Smart 50 judging field is ‘Impact: use of technology as a business tool’ which is all about being strategic with your tools and not falling into the ‘technology for technology’s sake’ trap. Our clients want us to make it simple for them to use creative media to meet their business goals. Internal communication messaging requires a high level of transparency to engage associates, and we continue to push for even greater authenticity in corporate messaging. For Mills James that’s all about reaching the hearts and minds of audiences, which is an ongoing journey for us to become even better storytellers.
The third judging area is ‘Sustainability’ and we really love our story here. Mills James was formed as a privately held company owned by its two founders, Ken Mills and Cameron James. Ken and Cam thought the best way to perpetuate Mills James and keep it true to its values was to transfer ownership to the company’s 160 employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan [ESOP.] Now, if someone calls the front desk and asks to speak to the owner, the receptionist can legitimately say, “You’re speaking to her.”
The Smart 50 award is not just an award for Ken and Cam – it’s recognition that Mills James associates have earned together through many years of dedicated effort. The 2016 Smart 50 class is an impressive group, and it’s a privilege to be recognized together with so many other successful organizations.
To learn more about the Smart 50 awards and the class of 2016, please click here.