The Emerson Group is celebrating an anniversary, the company’s 25th, I believe. The exact date is either later this year or early next year or sometime soon. No matter. The point here is that the Emerson Group is a vital enterprise that improves every organization it touches, while improving its efficiency and work ethic in the bargain. Indeed, it would be difficult to point to another marketing or distribution organization with the impact and efficiency that the Emerson Group brings to its various assignments and challenges.
The mystery in all this is that there is no mystery. Rather, it is the logical outcome of the efforts put forth by the unique and very talented individual who founded this company some 25 years ago and continues to mold and lead it with an intensity and foresight more typical of a group that opened its doors 25 days ago and approaches its business with an urgency that belies its reputation.
That individual is Scott Emerson, the young, or maybe not so young, Philadelphian who heads up the organization that bears his name. It would be difficult to define or describe Scott Emerson. Speak to him and the result is confusion. One gets a sense that he wandered onto this global stage almost by accident. He’s frankly amazed by the success his company has enjoyed … and, again, not so amazed as he would have a listener believe. Is he worried about things? “Every night when I go to bed.” Is he energized by the possibilities and the future? “Every morning when I wake up.”
His operating philosophy is simple, yet, like the individual espousing it, complex: “We win by outworking and outthinking everyone else.” And winning is what Scott Emerson does best. His organization touches every corner of mass retailing in America, on both the retail and supplier side. The products his organization represents and espouses, while seldom tier 1 brands, do one thing well: perform. And the organization he leads is known for one ingredient: intelligent and hard-working executives who are dedicated to the proposition that what was good enough yesterday will no longer work today.
Emerson is noted for motivating people, those who work with him and those for whom he works. Yet this highly motivated individual operates on the premise that you can’t assume motivation. He is an authority on mass retailing, yet his leadership skills underplay that expertise unless and until he is challenged. At that point, he proves anew how far ahead of the game his organization is. If two and two make four in the mass retailing community, Emerson proves that, in the right hands, two and two make six … or seven … or eight.
He unabashedly admires people — provided they bring one ingredient to the party: brains. So when he wins, which is often, he attributes those wins to the quality of the people around him. And he uncovers intelligence in executives that most of his competitors have never heard of, much less do business with. And he’s surprised at this: You mean you don’t know so-and-so? He’s the smartest person I know.”
He’s a believer in preparation. And paperwork. But not in the volumes of paper that crowd most briefcases. Rather, in one-page synopses which both sum up current events and make clear to observers and participants why things have to be done a certain way. His way.
He frankly admits that he doesn’t like to win merely to win. Yet winning is what drives him and, thanks to his ability to lead, what drives his associates as well. And at first glance Emerson’s associates are more interesting than he is. But only at first glance.
Behind this complex but simplex individual is an ability that many espouse but few possess: an ability to see the future. It is not a future that is obvious to the rest of us. Rather, it is a future that he has carefully and flawlessly calculated, one based on the logic of events and the talents of those responsible for insuring that future. So it is that when Scott Emerson says that the world is round, you believe him. And if, tomorrow morning, after studying his charts and graphs and precepts, he told you that the world is, in reality, flat, you would, out of habit, rethink ideas that you grew up believing because, after all, if Scott Emerson believes that the world is flat, it probably is.
Anyway, Happy Anniversary Scott. And if it isn’t really your anniversary, all you have to do is tell us and we’ll take it as gospel.