For Terry “T. L.” Hart, President and CEO of T. L. Hart, Inc. in Grand Lodge, Michigan, joining PDCA was one of the most significant business decisions he ever made. “I have literally built my company on PDCA,” says T. L., who founded the company over 30 years ago. “For example, when we bought our estimating software, we programmed in all the PDCA production rates. I regularly use many, if not all, business and management tools put out by PDCA.”
After joining PDCA, T. L. dived into improving his business headfirst. “Honestly, I never aspired to be a painting contractor,” he admits, “and it was being around other successful contractors that gave me a sense of personal and business credibility. My eagerness to learn and the quality of the people I met formed the catalyst to become involved.” T. L. became more involved by attending local PDCA Chapter and Council meetings, and meeting people who would eventually become lifelong friends. Those friendships turned into a valuable support system that helped his business grow.
“Soon after joining PDCA I became active on the Council level and there I met more people, not the least of whom was George Eckhoff of Eckhoff & DeVries, Grand Rapids,” says T. L., recalling one of the more prominent connections he made. “George, and his partner, Marv DeVries, were great help during my entry into the commercial market. They aided me in my quest to learn how to bid commercial and industrial projects by offering the forms they used, and so forth.”
On his journey to becoming more involved in PDCA, T. L. went from attending meetings an hour away at Washtenaw Chapter in Ann Arbor, to going to Michigan Council meetings once a quarter, to forming a chapter in Lansing. The landscape of PDCA Chapters and Councils has changed since then, but he had established himself as a PDCA leader. At the state level he helped plan tristate conventions, and from there took on the responsibility—along with a few other members—of planning annual state-wide education days.
Currently T. L. is the treasurer of the PDCA Michigan Great Lakes Council, but he has held a number of other leadership positions in different iterations of PDCA Councils and Chapters. “You benefit from anything to the degree you become involved,” says T. L. “Leadership, at whatever level equates to involvement. Whereas involvement requires time commitment, ultimately you benefit from whatever contribution you make for the good of others.”
T. L. feels that even at this stage in his career there is still room to grow. “You never know it all,”he says, joking that his success thus far is debatable. He believes that there is always someone who has done it better. “I learned a lot by listening and interacting with the best of the best.”