Business Matters: Nystrom CEO Sees Growth in Brooklyn Park
Inside Nystrom, there’s a din of machines and a reason to celebrate. The Brooklyn Park company held a ribbon cutting Dec. 10 for the opening of a building expansion. The commercial building products manufacturer nearly doubled the size of its Brooklyn Park campus by buying a building next door to its flagship facility.
Behind the expansion is a company leader who has risen the corporate ladder in a male-dominated field.
“Back when I started almost 30 years ago now, I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t even really notice. But opportunities have presented themselves and hard work makes a difference,” said Sue Thomas, CEO of Nystrom. “I think it’s a great place to work.”
Thomas was brought on as an accountant in 1990. Company Chair Jim Nystrom chose Thomas to become CEO in 2012. Since then Nystrom has averaged about 10 percent annual growth. Thomas attributes some of that success to a commercial building boom.
“Some of it is the economy is really good right now for commercial construction,” said Thomas. “But we believe we have a fantastic culture here at Nystrom.”
It’s a culture that 20-year employee Shane McJames attributes back to leadership.
“It’s nice to see Sue when she’s coming out to the shop here to talk with guys and see how they’re doing and telling them good job,” said McJames. “It seems like she’s very appreciative.”
“I Like to Lead By Example”
For Sue Thomas, her leadership style is a straightforward, honest approach.
“I like to lead by example. That’s what so important to me,” she said. “So there’s nothing I won’t do that I would ask an employee to do. We all have to make it happen together. So whether it’s being out on the floor, or in the office or with a customer, I absolutely want to be there and help.”
Her employees appreciate that.
“When you see people at the top coming out, you don’t always see that with other companies,” said McJames.
And here’s something else Nystrom employees appreciate. The company has a profit-sharing plan where 15 percent of net income is distributed equally to all 230 of its workers. Thomas knows it’s ultimately those employees who are behind the company’s success.
“We talk about you spend half your waking life at your job, and we want to make sure you enjoy it, that you’re challenged, and you feel rewarded for what you do here.”