Peerless Profile: How Jay Steinfeld’s TRUE North Led to a Once-in-a-Lifetime Deal

By February 28, 2014 Uncategorized No Comments

If you’ve ever doubted that building a strong culture around your TRUE North can lead to real business results, just ask Jay Steinfeld, CEO of

Jay is one of the business leaders featured in my book, Peerless: Defy Convention, Lead from the Heart, Watch What Happens. When we sat down for our interview, I was immediately struck by his unwavering dedication to his people.

Here’s an excerpt from his chapter:

“When people feel they’re getting better every day, they feel valued,” said Steinfeld. “We see people buy homes and get married and have babies. They come here as one person and they get infused with a sense of purpose.”

It’s that sense of purpose that has kept … and its leader … going during some severe ups and downs since he started the company back in the late 1980s.

Sometimes I talk with business owners and other leaders who say “Sure, a strong culture is nice to have … but does it really benefit the bottom line?”

It certainly has for Jay Steinfeld. After building from a tiny business run out of his garage to an $80 million industry leader, he recently sold the company to Home Depot for “an undisclosed price.”

What impressed me most about the announcement of the deal was the statement from Home Depot Chairman and CEO Frank Blake:’s unique sales and service model is one we hope to learn from as we continue to create even better interconnected retail experiences for our customers.”

Did you get that? Home Depot is looking to learn about customer service from Of the thousands of acquisitions that happen week in and week out, how many inspire a statement like that from the acquiring company’s CEO?

In this case, it makes perfect sense. The unique set of core values that drive Jay Steinfeld and his commitment to infusing those values at every level of his organization unlike any other in a crowded, competitive industry. It created an organization that not only attracted the attention of the nation’s largest home-improvement retailer, but to serve as a model for Home Depot’s own TRUE North journey.

And for those who might see this acquisition as the beginning of the end of the famous culture, Jay has a few words for you:

 “They want us to keep doing what we are doing and teach them about our culture. We specialize in selling products that are difficult for consumers to make decisions about. We take products that are hard to buy and convert (the sales) into experiences that are easy and exciting.”

OK, your turn: If your company were acquired today, what would the acquiring company be looking to learn from you?

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