Thursday, February 17, 2011

CEO Retreat Program Announced

The Virginia Council of CEOs recently announced the program for the 2011 CEO Retreat.  This much anticipated annual event will feature presentations by small business blogger Jay Goltz and economist Alan Beaulieu.  Also speaking will be the author of “How to Hire A Players”, Eric Herrenkohl and the CEO of Geomagic, Ping Fu.

The CEO Retreat will be held on April 6-8 at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virgnia.  Your can download the CEO Retreat 2011 Brochure or see the VACEOs web site for more details.

More than 100 CEOs of small and mid-sized Virginia businesses are expected to attend.

Posted by Scot McRoberts at 3:17 am
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Friday, October 15, 2010

CEOs Forecast Increased Sales, Capital Spending

CEOs in central Virginia have an optimistic view of business and the economy for the next six months, according to the 2010 CEO Economic Outlook Survey.

The area’s top executives anticipate an increase in sales and forecast an increase in capital spending, 3rd quarter survey results show.

The Virginia Council of CEOs and University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business jointly conduct the quarterly economic outlook survey, which helps central Virginia companies plan for growth. Additional findings reveal that only 8% of CEOs surveyed expect to reduce employment.

“These findings echo what I have been hearing from Richmond area CEOs. They are moving out of a period of risk-avoidance and into a time of opportunity,” said Scot McRoberts, executive director of the Virginia Council of CEOs. “Small and mid-sized businesses will bounce back faster because they are nimble.  However, many are constrained by the difficulty of obtaining financing for growth.”

The results from last month’s 3rd quarter survey and the 2nd quarter survey show CEOs’ sales, spending and employment projections for the next six months.

2010 Q3 2010 Q2
Increase No


Decrease Increase No


How do you expect your company’s sales to change in the next six months? 72.0% 18.7% 9.3% 54.4% 38.9% 6.7%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. capital spending to change in the next six months? 46.7% 33.3% 20.0% 35.6% 42.2% 22.2%
How do you expect your company’s U.S. employment to change in the next six months? 52.0% 40.0% 8.0% 41.1% 52.2% 6.7%

The council and Robins School surveyed 73 area business owners and CEOs of companies with more than $1 million revenue in central Virginia. Results were calculated by Jeff Pollack, assistant professor of management at the Robins School, who adapted the survey from the Business Roundtable. The economic index is based on businesses’ projected six-month sales, spending and employment figures.

Economic Outlook Index

Survey Date CEO Economic Outlook Index
2010 Q3 94.47
2010 Q2 81.33

“We are excited about these data. If the trend upward in the CEO Economic Outlook Index continues, it could represent positive economic news for the Richmond area and surrounding region,” said Pollack.

Business owners and CEOs who would like to participate in the next survey should contact McRoberts at

Posted by Scot McRoberts at 12:31 pm
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ukrop brothers tip #8 — luck

I was fortunate to be included in a gathering of business leaders last week at Luck Stone’s beautiful headquarters in Goochland.  We were there to listen to Jim and Bobby Ukrop share some of what they learned in their remarkable business careers with Ukrop’s Supermarkets (now Martin’s), First Market Bank (now Union First Market Bank), Ukrop’s Dress Express, Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods, and other ventures.

Jim and Bobby are both very humble, yet intensely competitive.  They are also committed to the Richmond community.  We are fortunate to have them.

This may not do their comments justice, but here is a summary of some of the points the Ukrop brothers made.

1. Curiosity fuels innovation:  constantly learn from peers and outside advisors

2. Constantly reinvent the business

3. You have to have a passion to be the best

4. Brand is delivering promises through people

5. Clear Vision, Mission, and Values guide decisions

6. Everyone is in the customer service business

7. Differentiate:   if everyone goes one way, consider the opposite direction

. . . and 8. Luck!

Posted by Scot McRoberts at 2:53 pm
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

An Economic Index for Richmond

Last month, the Robins School of Business and the VA Council of CEOs announced a partnership to produce a quarterly economic outlook index based on a survey of small and mid-sized business (SMB) CEOs.  “We are filling a void”, said Scot McRoberts, executive director of the Council.  “There is a lot of data that is either geographically too broad or focused on big business.  We believe this survey will give SMB CEOs valuable insight for business planning.”

The survey asks CEOs just a few questions, seeking their outlook on employment, revenue and capital investment in the next two quarters.  Those data are compelling and useful, giving business people a sense of what our SMB’s expect in the next six months.  The index is a combination of those data that will give a general trend quarter to quarter.

VA Council of CEOs members form the original group of respondents, but any SMB CEO is invited to participate.  Participants will receive the quarterly report and analysis.  To be a part of the survey, and receive our Q2 Report, contact Scot McRoberts at

Posted by Scot McRoberts at 5:26 pm
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Friday, September 10, 2010

How One CEO Made the Inc. 500

Mark Morton, president of Morton Consulting and member of the Virginia Council of CEOs spoke to us recently about being the only Richmond company to make the 2010 Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing, privately-held companies in the United States.

Contributing factors to Morton Consulting making the list include a 709 percent increase in revenues during the last three years; a 33 percent increase in staff during the last two years; and a tripling of the size of the company’s headquarters in the last six months.

The company ranked 33 in Inc.’s IT Services category, with $5.6 million in revenue and 419 on the overall Inc. 500/5000 list. The Inc. list appears in the September edition of Inc. magazine.

The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

VACEOs: How did you find out that your company made the Inc. 500 list?

Mark Morton: I actually received a phone call from Inc. one morning and they were asking me to verify our company information and probing for facts. This was a little bit of an indication on their part for what was coming. I later received an official letter from them stating that we had made the list, but it didn’t tell us how we ranked.

VACEOs: What did you do when you got the official word that Morton Consulting made the list?

Mark Morton: It’s not really my nature to be overly celebratory. However, we got it at the end of second quarter right before starting a team planning session and it turned out to be a great way to get the meeting started and to congratulate our team for its efforts.

VACEOs: Did you set out with a strategic approach to grow?

Mark Morton: Our growth 100 percent just sort-of happened. My family comes from a long list of entrepreneurs so I knew something about starting a business when I started Morton Consulting. Some of the tools that I’ve gotten through the Virginia Council of CEOs have helped with our long-term vision and strategy.

VACEOs: You were quoted in The Richmond Times-Dispatch saying, “The key is having good people working for us that have the right skill sets, and the right experience, and who can bring value to our customers.” How do you find these employees and what type of internal environment helps them succeed?

Mark Morton: We try to identify talented people and put the right teams and right resources together that will lead to success. It is our focus to identify people who can start off wearing multiple hats, but as roles within the company change, they are able to easily adapt to them.

I also think that within the IT (Information Technology) space in Virginia, there is a tight knit group of people who stay together and network with each other. A lot of our employees come from people who are consumers of our services and have worked with us at one point. People who work here are passionate about the business. When we are hiring, we also let people with the same skill set interview the candidate so we have their feedback and buy-in as well.

VACEOs: Was acquiring the IT firm Xperts Inc. last year a factor in your growth?

Mark Morton: One of the things that helped our growth was the acquisition. A third of our business was the legacy business, a third is Xperts, and another third was growth of existing accounts. The acquisition definitely helped strengthen us internally because the cultures of the two companies are similar. It’s a focus on values and commitment to the way we deliver resources.

VACEOs: What advice would you have for other businesses?

Mark Morton: As a business owner, your job every day to your employees, and to customers, is to come in and make it count. You have to be looking for ways to add value to your customers and employees each and every day. If your phone is not ringing, you need to be making other’s phones ring.

VACEOs: Do you think your involvement with the Council played a role in making the list?

Mark Morton: I will always recommend involvement in groups like the Council. I remember when an economist came to speak at a Council event and he was saying this is cyclical and we may have highs and may have lows and we have to plan for rainy days. He also suggested that you should diversify your business and make sure you control your growth. Be in the position to be nimble enough to react to changes. That was helpful information.

The Council has also given me some great planning tools and advice to use as a platform to share with our team and strengthen how our employees feel about Morton Consulting. My involvement in the council also led me to a great book called Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. We implemented it in our workplace and could tell it sparked some enthusiasm in our employees and created excitement.

VACEOs: So now that you have made the list, what’s next?

Mark Morton: My goal is for Morton Consulting to be a $20 million company by the end of 2012. It may take another acquisition, but we have a goal and a plan to get there.

About Inc. magazine’s fourth annual Inc. 5000 list:
The list represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy—America’s independent-minded entrepreneurs. Music website Pandora, convenience store chain 7-Eleven, Brooklyn Brewery, and Radio Flyer, maker of the iconic children’s red wagon, are among the prominent brands featured on this year’s list. With more than 27 million businesses registered in the United States, the Inc. 500|5000 list represents the top-tier businesses in America today. The Inc. 500|5000 list appears in the September edition of Inc. magazine.

The Inc. 500 list is a distinguished editorial award, a celebration of innovation, a network of

Posted by Scot McRoberts at 1:11 pm