Jeff Hankin is managing principal of Sparling Inc., which offers consulting services in electrical engineering, technology, and audiovisual and acoustical design.
Essential business philosophy: We are in the people business. It’s all about building the right team, great relationships and communication, and high value. We call it the “Sparling Experience.”
Best way to keep a competitive edge: By continually challenging ourselves to find new ways to innovate and deliver the “Sparling Experience,” our value to our clients increases and we remain an extension of their team or facility.
Guiding principles: Communication is the relationship; unwavering client service and excellence in design.
Yardsticks of success: Happy clients, repeat business, retention and growth of staff.
Goals yet to be achieved: Grow the firm to double our revenues, grow our San Diego office to 25 people in three to five years, and become the electrical and technology consulting design firm of choice in San Diego.
Best business decisions: One was having the vision in the ’80s to begin offering technology consulting services as it opened up significant and new markets. Second was opening up our San Diego office to strategically position us to better serve our client base in the region.
Worst business decision: During a period of rapid growth in the mid-’90s, we lost sight of the critical nature of hiring based on core values and culture. It now is embedded in our culture and will remain our priority.
Toughest business decision: Deciding to relocate and transition relationships, clients and projects after 19 years based in the Pacific Northwest.
Biggest missed opportunity: Not moving fast enough to react to regional market conditions and opportunities for new offices or partnerships.
Mentor: Eric Overton, Sparling’s president and chief executive officer.
Word that describes you: Passionate.
What you like best about your job: Working with so many different great people, and being able to enrich our communities through our design and creativity.
What you like least about your job: Paper, paper, paper.
Pet peeves: Tardiness, unorganized people and followers (not leaders).
Most important lesson learned: People don’t leave firms, they leave people. Nurture, take care of, and celebrate your team.
Person most interested in meeting: Thomas Friedman or Howard Schultz.
Three greatest passions: Family, health and sports, travel.
First choice for a new career: Own a baseball team.
Favorite quote: “The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that I’m the pilot.” , Michael Altshuler.
Most influential book: “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins or “Fierce Conversations,” by Susan Scott.
Favorite status symbol: Peer recognition.
Favorite restaurant: Roppongi.
Favorite place for business meetings: Pacifica, Del Mar.
Favorite vacation spot: Sun Peaks Resort, British Columbia.
Favorite way to spend time: Family time, mountain biking, playing sports, reading, back-road driving.