Seven Resolutions for 2015

Aaron P. Graft

January 9, 2015

Happy 2015! I hope each of you enjoyed the holidays and that you are still keeping your New Year’s resolutions. Due to the busyness at the end of last year and our pending initial public offering, I was not able to update my blog or send out regular team member communications. I resolve to be a better communicator in 2015!

As you know, Triumph achieved a major milestone when we became a public company in November. With the initial celebration (and the holidays) behind us, I began thinking about the future of Triumph as a public company. For the New Year, I drafted a few personal resolutions related to Triumph. After I completed the list, I realized that it might be worthwhile to share it with the entire team.

As we move forward in a new year and as a public company, here are seven resolutions. I have committed myself to these and I invite you to do the same.

  1. Develop People. This has been a principal conviction for Triumph since the start. Being named a Dallas Business Journal Best Places to Work two years in a row tells me we are getting many things right; however, some team members have provided feedback that Triumph’s performance in the area of developing its people has only been average. I’ve said on numerous occasions that people are our most valuable asset. I believe that to my core. So I have heard your feedback and want you to know that we are doing something about it. For 2015, we are committed to providing various professional development resources for team members and management education for supervisors. We will focus on improving skills training in areas where it is falling short. We can also improve our overall communication to the team. In particular, we will re-focus on our vision and values, incorporating them in our work, in our communication, and in our assessment of performance.
  2. Ignore the Noise. As a publicly traded company, our stock will go up and our stock will go down. We may not always be able to explain why. The nature of the stock market is that it gives instant feedback. But just because the feedback is “instant” does not always mean that it is right. Whether or not you own our stock, my advice is to ignore the market noise. Checking Triumph’s stock price multiple times a day is not a productive use of your time. As Triumph always has, we will run the business to create long-term value for all of our stakeholders. If we do that, the share price will take care of itself.
  3. Lead from Conviction. The market may reward decisions that have short-term benefits but do not produce long-term value. That is no way to run a business. We will stick to our convictions and build shareholder value for the long-term. This includes investing back into our business and sacrificing growth if the risk-versus-reward profile of a particular opportunity is not favorable. Generally speaking, healthy things grow. We are healthy and therefore we expect to grow. The market also expects us to grow, and will be disappointed if we don’t. Nevertheless, I continue to encourage our lenders and salespeople to walk away from deals if the opportunity is not right. Triumph is at a point in the cycle where extra caution needs to be exercised because there is so much money chasing every deal. We must focus on sticking to our convictions and being disciplined, even if it is not popular.
  4. Do Not Burn Up The Money Pit 2.0. Do I need to say more here? After diligent research, I am convinced that Triumph is the only bank in America that burned up its own BBQ trailer in 2014. We’ll endeavor not to repeat that distinguished accomplishment this year.

    BBQ-Image-Money-Pit-Triumph
  5. Improve Efficiency. Regardless of whether we are a public company or a private one, our efficiency must improve. We have been in growth mode for the past four years, and rightly so. As I mentioned above, we will expect to continue to grow. But now as we grow, it is imperative that our revenue growth outpaces our expense growth. I have often used the analogy that Triumph is a racecar that has been driving on a go-kart track. When you drive a racecar on a go-kart track, it is not very efficient because the racecar can never achieve the speed it was built to achieve. At Triumph, we have invested in people and an infrastructure that can support an organization much greater than our current size. In order for us to be efficient, we have to grow our balance sheet to fully utilize our existing resources. In other words, we need to expand the size of the track so our racecar can operate like it was designed. Doing this well will lead to greater profitability and value creation for everyone.
  6. View Change as Opportunity. Change is coming. Change was coming regardless of whether or not we went public. Organizations that don’t change get beat. Take a look at Kodak. A generation ago the company was the dominant player in its market. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy because it served a market that no longer existed (camera film). I invite our team members to see change as an opportunity to improve. Whether it takes the form of an acquisition or simply the modification of a process that hasn’t been improved over the past couple of years, let’s agree to seize the opportunity and be adaptable.
  7. Do What Is Right. If you don’t take anything else from this message, just remember to do what is right. Always. If I had to boil it down to one thought for our entire team, it is this time-proven proverb: Do to others what you would have them do to you. No matter what, no matter where, no matter who will know. Continue to be valuable to our customers and to each other. If we all do that well, success will follow.

For 2015 and beyond, I look forward to the journey together!