Seth Seagraves was born and grew up in Gainesville, Georgia. He played sports for a local high school team before attending college in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the Air Force Academy. Seth began working in the world of technology in 2006 and quickly began to understand how technology could be used more efficiently to serve the people who owned businesses in his community. Since that time, Seth has assisted Halski to realize growth from a local IT consulting company to a nationwide Managed Services powerhouse. Seth is married to Kristin Fouts Seagraves. They have three children whose needs remind Seth every day how important economic and time efficiency is to business owners.
At the Core of Halski are our values. Halski is committed to delivering cutting-edge IT services and consultation while maintaining the most secure and efficient solutions in the industry. We are unparalleled in the managed services industry due to our unwavering commitment to base every strategy, action, and interaction upon four simple tenets:
Halski is a true business partner with our clients and we listen intently. We are effective because we understand our client’s needs as well as the vital business components that drive their success. At Halski, we are more than just a service provider. We are your partner! Come find out why thousands trust us to be up, so you are never down.
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Series Quick Links
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Epic Company Culture podcast where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals and company culture aficionados the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.
Series: Culture Champions
Josh Sweeney: Hello fellow culturists and welcome to the Epic Company Culture podcast. Before I get started, I would like to thank prototype prime for this amazing podcast space.
Introducing Seth Seagraves with Halski System
Josh Sweeney: Hello fellow culturists and welcome to the Epic Company Culture podcast. Before I get started, I would like to thank prototype prime for this amazing podcast space. Seth, it’s great to have you today. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company.
Seth Seagraves: Yeah, so I’m Seth Seagraves. I’m the CEO of Halski Systems. We are a managed services company at our core, but that’s kind of limiting and also very universal. We do anything that pertains to the business IT whether it’s telecom services or consulting or AWS or desktop support. When it comes to business IT, that’s what what we do.
Halski System’s Core
Josh Sweeney: Got it, so far beyond managed services, but inclusive of that.
Seth Seagraves: That’s correct. And managed services is our core. But what I think is changing is, services is that key word there. And I think that services are changing daily, especially in the IT field. So what is traditional managed services? That’s not really the game anymore. Right now customers demand something a little different and we followed the customers.
Traditional Managed Services
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. And Are you just seeing a spread across services you have to support it from AWS to Azure to Google cloud? I mean, I’m sure it’s just hitting you from all different directions nowadays.
Seth Seagraves: That’s correct. Well, just five years ago we would sell a backup device and we would have someone come onsite and change tapes and we would build their cloud in our data center. Well, today they could just zip it up in Azure. We can do that for them or they could have backups offsite and it’s seamless and much cheaper. The traditional managed services is changing, but we serve customers.
Josh Sweeney: Very cool. Well, yeah, I mean I know we all have to adapt to the changing needs. So, you mentioned the word service, so I’m going to start to dig into the culture aspects of that, because that comes up a lot. So if we look back before Halski and look at the careers that you’ve had, what have been some of your most important culture experiences where you said, “I want to have a company, work in a company, lead a company that has these values or this type of culture.” What are the experiences you’ve seen?
Seth Seagraves: I think the biggest one is Air Force. I was in the Air Force for a couple of years and actually three of Halski’s core values are the same core values that were in the Air Force. So that was definitely an influential culture to me. I think that the military itself is what other companies should try to be a microcosm of. So there’s this greater purpose and doing the little things right.
The Higher Calling
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. So what’d you do in the Air Force?
Seth Seagraves: Actually went to the Air Force Academy. I didn’t finish up there. I was injured, but while I was there for a couple of years, I’ve got to learn that culture. I thought of a couple of things that really impacted me from the Air Force culture. And we had a book that was called Contrails and we had to memorize quotes. And one of those quotes that I still think of today is General Patton. He said,
“If you can’t get them to salute when they should salute or wear the clothes you tell him to wear, then how you’re going to get him to die for their country.?”
That is a big quote and it’s sort of ominous, but it really speaks to that Air Force culture of a higher calling. There’s something that we’re all doing here that’s not about ourselves. We have to focus on the little things.
Translating It To Business
Josh Sweeney: And how do you think that translates into the business?
Seth Seagraves: Well, that’s in life in business and everything, you’ve got to do the little things right and you’ve got to have a big why. There’s gotta be something that you are doing that’s bigger than yourself.
The Power Of Little Things
Josh Sweeney: I coach your sports and I was going over a book and I can’t remember who it was. It was a famous basketball coach. And they talked about well no matter … he brought everybody in at the beginning of the year and the name is alluding me.
Josh Sweeney: So he brings everybody in the beginning of the year. It’s seniors, it’s new people, whatever. And he starts off with, all right, take off your shoes and your socks, here’s how you put your socks on, here’s how you put your shoes on, here’s how you tie your shoes. Because we don’t want it coming untied during the game. And so he goes through the whole process around those little things, which build up the big things, crucial moment, shoe’s untied, stops the momentum of the game. And I think a lot of people look past a lot of those types of things now. And I think the thing that stood out from me on that one was, it wasn’t just the new guys, the senior team members were doing it next to them every single year. And that also reinforced to those freshmen that this is what we do. You get on board and you go through it.
Seth Seagraves: Yeah. Well, focusing on the little things is, is paramount, but it has to be coupled with the bigger picture. So if somebody is telling you to do all these tedious things, that can be daunting and you might want to quit that. But if you’re doing it for a greater purpose, I think that’s what really builds a culture.
Josh Sweeney: It’s really knowing why you’re doing it, what impact it has.
Seth Seagraves: That’s right. And you’re doing it with a team. That’s another part.
RISE – 4 Culture Pillars
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. So what are some of the other values from the Air Force that you carried over and the impacts of those?
Seth Seagraves: Well, like I mentioned, our core values are RISE, R-I-S-E. For Halski it’s respect, integrity, servant’s heart and excellence. And at their force, their motto was integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. So integrity, service and excellence made it over to ours, but we change service to servant’s heart. And that being a biblical reference, but just the spirit of serving, is something that … we’re a service company and we better have it. Right?
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. Like the servant leadership model, like Chick-fil-A, a couple of companies are well known for that.
Seth Seagraves: Absolutely. I would love to have a culture one day that resembles Chick-fil-A in a little … every time I go there I smile. It’s their pleasure. That’s very exciting. And that’s how we want our customers to feel.
The Impact Of Culture
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I remember pulling up just a few days ago, me and my wife were pulling up to the chick-fil-a and I had gone to that same one a few days later and the same young man walks up to our car and as he’s walking up, I’m like, “This guy’s really exciting. Wait, wait for this.” He had all sorts of energy.
Seth Seagraves: Yeah, and they’re a lot of times, 17 year old kids who are working through school, working through college and their service level is beyond many adults that I know, it’s incredible. And a culture did that.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. Whereas you get the alternate experience just walking through the mall and there’s all kinds of other things happening at 17 versus what that kid at Chick-fil-A is doing.
Seth Seagraves: And I would argue that their culture attracted the people with similar cultures already.
Culture Of Including Others
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. Yeah. Self selected people into the systems. Yeah. Awesome. So Air Force, servant leadership. All these different aspects came in to kind of help form a good culture at Halski. What were some things that you experienced in past companies that were more negative? You didn’t want to see that culture continue?
Seth Seagraves: Well, I think that after the Air Force, I came home still was dating my high school sweetheart and I ended up marrying and we have three kids and a fourth on the way.
Josh Sweeney: Congratulations.
Seth Seagraves: Thank you. But it was getting serious and I knew I had to pop the question on her pretty quick. So I got to where I started my own company. It was just me and I pulled doors, I was selling data circuits, voiceover IP, cell phone plans, and it was a hustle and it was a grind. and believe it or not, you can create your own culture when it’s just you. And one thing that I realised in my year and a half, two years of doing that is that my culture, the culture that I want to be a part of includes others. It Includes a close relationship with others, like I had in the Air Force. I wanted a team to hold me accountable that I could hold accountable. That was probably my least favorite culture. It’s just working by myself.
Culture Of Synergy
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I’ve never really thought of it that way because, my first company was … one of my first companies was a telecom company too. Did fiber optics and a D-marks and all kinds of other stuff like that. Installations for See Beyond, AT&T, all different types of companies. And I’ve had multiple companies since it never really thought about the lonely factor of being the lone entrepreneur until you start to add people. And I always know that I’ve always enjoyed coming into an office more than I’ve enjoyed from home. That’s just part of the culture of me, like what you’re saying. That team, that camaraderie building, having people around. So that first year is always kind of the loneliest time when it’s you grinding it out.
Seth Seagraves: It is. You want the synergy to really amplify what you’re doing. You want the one plus one equals five. Well if it’s just one, there’s nothing to add to that. It’s just you and there’s only so much one person can do. You can’t build a synergy, you can’t build a business by yourself.
Culture Of Synergy
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, it’s definitely challenging to do so. Awesome. So we talked a little bit about Halski already, but what are some of the other things that you just love about the culture in the organisation?
Seth Seagraves: I would say that culture is who we are. That’s my favorite aspect. I don’t know if you’ve read the book, you’ve heard the quote that
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” – Peter Drucker
I’m sure you being a culture guy, you’ve heard that many times, but I feel like-
Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch by Curt Coffman and Kathie Sorensen
Josh Sweeney: Drucker, right?
Seth Seagraves: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. So our strategy is culture. Being a service company, that’s what we keep ourselves reminded of. So the respect, integrity, servant’s heart and excellence, those are four tenants that we even incentivize our employees to follow. Respect, are you hitting your SLEs. Integrity, you’re being paid for eight hours. How much of that was billable? Servant’s heart? What is your customer service satisfaction survey scores. Excellence, what does your manager think you’re doing? How are you doing? How well are you doing it? Those are things that as long as we focus on our people and we focus on those culture traits then our company is going to continue to succeed without a strategy. Yes, we strategize. Yes, we have strategy sessions. However, as long as we focus on our customer in a market that changes so often, we’re going to be fine. And that’s what is exciting to me is that we have a company that’s built on the people, the people being, our employees, our customers. We call ourselves the Halski family, and that includes everyone from our customers to our employees, to each other and to our families, our wives, our children.
Culture Of Integrity
Josh Sweeney: That is something that we take very seriously. And I think that’s what is a big testament to our success today.
Seth Seagraves: Yeah. I like the theming around RISE and just the ways that you can state the values and then what the impact is for each one. Integrity, Did you bill the number of hours that need to be billed based on what the workday looks like, what we need as a business? And that comes back to integrity. I don’t always see people be able to clearly take their values and say, “Here’s exactly what that means. Here’s what we’re looking at in order to see if you’re conveying that value in the business.” So as far as the military aspect, so you’re the CEO of Halski and you have a military background and I’ve talked to some other people that were in the military and they said, “Well our office culture is somewhat of a reflection on that and very hardworking a heads down type of team.”
Culture Of Service
Josh Sweeney: People come together, but it’s not what you would think of as Google technology culture. Right? So even though you’re a technology company, it’s a little bit of a different vibe. Would you say that you have a different vibe because of the military background? You have other people that are in the military in the organization or where do you fall in that office vibe?
Seth Seagraves: We do have several folks who are in the Halski family who were in military. I can think of five or six off the top of my head. But I would say that our culture is very different from that of the military and that … and this is no dig at the military or the government. But we are all about service and I didn’t experience that very much in the Air Force. But we have service before self, but that’s serving your country and we are about customer service. So that creates a completely different culture. We just have some of the similar tenets of integrity and excellence and doing the little things right. Those are things that brought over. But outside of that we’ve kind of created our own culture.
Culture Of Family
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. Are there any other highlights you’d like to share? I know you mentioned a family and spouses and children. Is that a heavy involvement in the organization or are there other things that are really you feel are unique to you?
Seth Seagraves: Absolutely. So we haven’t planned it this way, but the majority of our folks are either family people or they are people who are wanting to have a family, people who share those similar values in the same way that Chick-fil-A might attract someone who was already customer service oriented. I felt like we attract people who value that family aspect. Us as a company, we look for the right person personality wise. We look for the right person who has the same morals that we do. When I say morals, customer service, first excellence, integrity. Outside of that we can train the IT part, that’s technical. Even if you’re an expert in something today, in a couple of years that’s going to be obsolete. So what we do is we hire the right folks for our culture and we train them to where they should be.
Culture Of People
Josh Sweeney: Perfect. Yeah. I mean we talk about that a lot in some of our podcasts and the workshops that we do around the skill sets are going to constantly change. You want somebody who has the ability to change with the skill set, matches the culture of the organisation, right person, trained on the rest of the items that you can.
Seth Seagraves: Absolutely.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. So what is the thing that you’re most look forward to enhancing around your culture or the biggest challenge that you’re having with company culture?
Seth Seagraves: That’s a tough one. I would say our biggest challenge now, we’ve grown tremendously. We’ve been very blessed and we’ve gotten to … five years ago we had 15 folks and three years ago I think we had 25 or 30 and we’re at 60 employees today. And as we continue to grow, it’s much harder to disseminate a culture or a change of culture. Those are things that you can’t just tell a couple of guys in a meeting. So surrounding yourself with people who share that culture, it makes it a lot easier. And I guess what I’m most excited about is if we can truly focus on our people, they will take care of our customers. If we can truly continue to focus on our people, more people is better. So is going to have its challenges, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to manage a culture of a hundred employees and we’re going to be there soon. But I feel like as long as we focus on the people, as long as we focus on the service, we can serve our customers better with more employees. There are things, if we had 100 employees now, we can serve our customers more quickly, more efficiently, at a better rate. So as we grow, I think things will improve and I’m excited about seeing our culture in a larger version of ourselves.
Josh Sweeney: Well that’s fantastic growth for sure. As a CEO, I’m sure you’re enjoying that growth and congratulations on that.
Seth Seagraves:Thank you.
Josh Sweeney: Well, we were really appreciate you coming out for the podcast. Thank you for sharing all about Halski Systems, Halski Systems, excuse me. Thank you for coming out.
Seth Seagraves: Thank you for having me.
Speaker 1: Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoyed this content, please subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit EpicCulture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us at EpicCulture1 or email at podcast@EpicCulture.co.
Podcast Highlights and Resources
- Greater purpose and doing the little things right.
- you’ve got to do the little things right and you’ve got to have a big why.
- There’s gotta be something that you are doing that’s bigger than yourself.
- You’ve got to do the little things right and you’ve got to have a big why. There’s gotta be something that you are doing that’s bigger than yourself.
- Surrounding yourself with people who share that culture, it makes it a lot easier.
- Focus on our people, they will take care of our customers.
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Chick-fil-A is an American fast food restaurant chain headquartered in the city of College Park, Georgia, specializing in chicken sandwiches. Founded in May 1946, it operates more than 2,200 restaurants, primarily in the United States. The restaurant serves breakfast before transitioning to its lunch and dinner menu. Chick-fil-A also offers customers catered selections from its menu for special events
George Smith Patton Jr. was a General of the United States Army who commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean theater of World War II, and the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.
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At the first practice of each season, legendary coach John Wooden taught his players how to put on their socks and shoes a very particular way. When asked about this, he replied, “The little things matter. All I need is one little wrinkle in one sock to put a blister on one foot–and it could ruin my whole season. I started teaching about shoes and socks early in my career, and I saw that it really did cut down on blisters during the season. That little detail gave us an edge.” Coach Wooden knew the long-term impact of little things done well.
culture eats strategy for breakfast Curt Coffman and Kathie Sorensen
Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch is for everyone trying to work within a culture to make something happen. Each of us moves daily through a myriad of cultures, from neighborhood to organization, school, and church. And it is our connection to those cultures, which either inspire the best within us or reduces us to average.
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