“You don’t build a business – you build people – and then people build the business.” – Zig Ziglar
Ask any entrepreneur what one of the most important aspects of building a business is, and most will say that having a great team is essential. Keith Watson would agree. In 2004, when Keith, and his wife Roberta, started Keith Watson (KW) in Gainesville they only knew a handful of people, so they tapped outside area contractors. Within a year, Keith was able to build a local team of talented individuals who would become the foundation of the company. As KW celebrates a decade in business in Gainesville, Keith reflects on the company’s early days, and its ever-promising future.
Birth of the Brand
As head of events for the New York City Church of Christ, Keith worked with over six hundred volunteers. As a leader, Keith learned the importance of empowering the team around you – especially when they didn’t have to be there.
Keith’s company began as a side business during his tenure at the NYC Church of Christ. His experience as director of food and beverage at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, along with other corporate special event management experience, set up a natural transition.
Since 2004, Keith has built his business on exceptional service by going the extra mile, developing a strong team and giving back to the community.
The ability to listen to clients, meet them where they are in terms of needs – but still bring a fresh perspective and ideas they would have never thought of has been the key to the business’ success says Keith.
“Fortunately, I have a team that is invested in achieving the highest quality results, and they are invested in this company as if it is their own, so my team brings the same qualities to the table that I do,” Keith says.
Successful team building doesn’t happen overnight, and it is not simple. Keith admits that trust is the backbone of a great team, but it takes time to establish. Like any small business starting out, there is a trial and error process when it comes to figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
Keith committed to hiring for character as much as for talent. “Eye contact and personality are important,” Keith says. “Drive, work ethic and the ability to make mistakes and own up to them are what make a person the right fit.”
There are many companies that hire to fit a job description, not the personality traits needed to be successful in the role. Keith learned early on in his business that looking at textbook qualifications was only part of the team-building process. He needed entrepreneurial-minded individuals who could collectively move KW to the next level.
Keith has cultivated the trust and value of his team, which in turn is reflected in the dazzling delivered results.
Evolution of the Brand
“We are never satisfied – with every project, we look for ways to raise the bar and improve our products and services,” Keith says.
Each team member brings a long list of accomplishments, so combining their talents produces exceptional results.
If one word could describe Keith Watson, it would be versatile. Keith’s vision for the company incorporates a fine balance of timeless and innovative.
KW is evolving from event planning, product and service offerings to a lifestyle brand. The growth of the team has everything to do with this progression. The team and Keith have been strategically planning the future of Keith Watson together.
Clients–and friends–routinely look to Keith for decorating advice, style tips, recipes and much more. It is a natural next step to incorporate that aspect into the business model. Transitioning to a lifestyle brand makes sense.
The KW brand will continue to adhere to its core values: serving the community and providing high-end, quality products and services.
Giving Back While Moving Forward
One of the pillars of Keith Watson’s company is giving back to the community. Aside from teaching their son the value of exceptional customer service, Keith’s parents taught him that serving the community was just as important.
Growing up in Alabama, Keith learned what separates good companies from great companies. Keith recalls asking his father, who owned a propane gas business, what made him successful since there were other companies in the area that offered the same product for the same price, “My father said, ‘Customer service outweighs anything you do,’ and he also emphasized the importance of giving back to the community.”
Within the first year that Keith and his family moved to Gainesville, they became heavily involved in local arts and children-related non-profit organizations. Keith and his family are committed to providing children with opportunities in the arts that he never had growing up in Alabama.
Keith co-founded the Rising Star performing arts summer camp that successfully ran for eight years. This year, Camp Broadway – a nationally recognized camp – asked Keith to be their local partner and run the Gainesville camp.
KW volunteers its services to various non-profits throughout the year and Keith personally sits on a number of boards.
When asked what he hopes to accomplish moving forward, Keith responded that he wanted to create a legacy. His leadership role would be realized if KW not only represents a trend-setting brand, but also a company that makes a positive impact on the community.