Innovation is rewarded at Adelman Travel: Adelman Receives Entrepreneurship Award
With a top management transition complete, Adelman Travel Group executives thought their firm might have a good chance of winning the Wisconsin 75 special award that recognizes a successful move to the next generation of leadership.
A panel of judges, however, had another idea.
” I went to my fellow judges and said ‘this is entrepreneurship,'” recalled Roger Pillsbury, managing director of PrivateBank’s Milwaukee office and a judge for the four Distinguished Performer awards given to Wisconsin 75 companies. “This is a beautiful story of entrepreneurship.”
Rather than the Generations honor, the judges chose the Glendale travel firm for the Entrepreneurship Award.
For Pillsbury, the numbers indicated that after nearly 30 years in business, Adelman was still finding innovative ways to grow.
Started by Craig Adelman with a $25,000 investment in 1985, the company is projected to have $609 million of sales this year. Sales have risen 63% from $372 million in 2007, during a very challenging period for the U.S. economy and the travel industry.
And at a time when many companies were shedding workers, Adelman increased its workforce by nearly 80% to about 300 employees, from 167 in 2007. The company also says it did not lose a single customer in 2012.
In a competitive business Adelman’s leaders work hard to distinguish the company, said Steve Cline, president and chief operating officer.
The company’s management group meets every week or two to discuss challenges facing the industry, said Cline, who became president last year when Bob Chaiken took the chief executive officer job from founder Craig Adelman.
The firm’s VideoTravel service is an example.
While others worried about how videoconferencing might reduce business travel, Adelman’s managers worked with IVCi LLC to develop a proprietary product for video meetings. When customers log in to Adelman’s web portal to make travel arrangements, the system tells them whether video conferencing is available at their destination city. If they choose the video meeting option, the call is booked and the system automatically calculates how many road and air miles they saved.
Adelman has strengthened its information technology so it can support all of its technology offerings and developed several reporting tools for customers, including one that consolidates travel data for employees based in numerous countries.
“These guys continue to double down on their investment rather than sitting back and saying ‘woe is me’ and letting the world eat their lunch,” Pillsbury said.
Adelman is focused on providing the best service possible, Cline said.
Knowing that customers need to focus on their core businesses, Adelman’s account managers help do things like write travel policies, negotiate supplier agreements, develop travel websites and provide related training, Cline said. The account managers also will make recommendations about which products they might, and might not need.
Metso Group has been an Adelman customer for more than a decade because of “the quality of services and reporting, and the extra mile they typically go for us,” said Tuomas Vuoristo, Metso’s North American regional manager and head of indirect procurement.
Adelman does things like finding additional rooms when all of the hotels were full in Milwaukee and Chicago, when Metso had meetings planned, Vuoristo said.
In his position overseeing the Adelman relationship, and in his travels — he flies about 80,000 miles and spends about 200 days on the road each year — Vuoristo said he has come to value Adelman’s high level of service.
“Any time I have a problem, I have one number I can call and they’ll take care of it,” he said.