As a restaurant worker antsy to do his own thing, Adam Fetsch started making candles out of discarded wine bottles. Now 34, he launched his Charleston, South Carolina, company in 2009. Since then, he's fired only one of 70 employees for performance issues.
--As told to Alix Stuart
We don't believe in "hire slow and fire fast." We hire pretty quickly. We do some screening, but if we get a good feeling from someone, the person is probably going to work out. Then we commit to that person's success; if we do have a challenging time, we are very, very slow to fire.
I know what it feels like to be underutilized. Working in hospitality, I had a lot of ideas I couldn't act on because it wasn't my job. Over time, it just kind of beat me down. I didn't stay with any job for more than two years.
Sometimes we take extreme measures, such as promoting an underperforming employee. Take our human resources manager. She started in sales and was obviously bright, but lacked motivation. At one point, I was ready to fire her, but we had a heart-to-heart and she said she really wanted to stay. She connected well with people, so I asked her to oversee HR. And she just took off.
What we try to do now with any failing employee is to look first at "what is our failure?" We've done about 20 turnarounds. If I were to hire someone from scratch each time, I would have to go through the same process with the new hire. And in the end, there's a stronger bond with the employees we work with to find success.