(EFFINGHAM, IL) – Representatives from area businesses gained insight and information about how their organization could achieve excellence at the “Journey to Excellence” Conference and Business Showcase on April 17 at the Keller Convention Center.
This premier event, hosted by HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital and the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, allowed these businesses on similar quality journeys to learn from leaders who are advanced in their excellence journey, while also offering the opportunity to share their own innovations.
Speakers at this free conference included Ben Krupowicz, executive director of Illinois Performance Excellence; Mark Probst, owner of Probst Auto Body; Bill Teichmiller, CEO of EJ Water Cooperative; and Theresa Rutherford, president and CEO of HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital. They were followed by keynote speaker Cary Hill, CEO of MESA, a leading provider of corrosion control and pipeline integrity solutions for the nation’s energy pipeline and storage infrastructure.
Each speaker covered a different aspect of the path to excellence. Ben Krupowicz spoke to those who had not yet started on their journey, as he shared “There is no one right way to get started on your journey to excellence; it is more important that you get started.” His three suggested steps for starting included awareness, internal assessment and improvement, and external feedback.
Mark Probst followed with encouragement for those who had begun their journey by sharing his business’s experience, but he also tied in his personal experience with his goal to compete in an Ironman race. As he shared the ups and downs as he was training, he reminded everyone that you need to take small steps to move forward. Even if you fall down, you need to get back up, as he shared, “Failures are only learning opportunities. When you struggle, remember, we occupy the largest room in the house – the room for improvement.” He encouraged business leaders in attendance to seek training opportunities, make a plan and track how well you are following it, and urged everyone to not get comfortable with where they are at, because when you get comfortable, you get lazy and stop advancing.
Aligned with Probst’s remarks were the ones shared by Bill Teichmiller, as he spoke about how innovation is the key to advancing on the journey to excellence. He reminded everyone to be on guard where their industry was headed in order to stay ahead of the competition. Teichmiller encouraged those in attendance to network, be lifelong learners and ask for help, as he said, “It is OK to be in a room where you don’t know as much as the others there. Just be in the moment, be present and ask questions.” Strategic planning is also key as he explained, “Strategic planning is like sending out a recon unit; you need to know what the landscape looks like before you advance.”
Theresa Rutherford also shared in her remarks how strategic planning and innovation plays a role in the journey to excellence that HSHS St. Anthony’s is on. She shared, “Continuous improvement is a key to success. Assess your history, current performance and your goals for the future. Your strategies and actions move you from current state to a new elevated performance level.” She shared examples of how St. Anthony’s has advanced their clinical quality and enhanced their patient experience through new innovations. Rutherford acknowledged that transformation is an investment and can take time, but still encouraged everyone to “learn about best practices in your industry and try something new to advance to a new level of performance.”
Keynote speaker Cary Hill shared his company’s experience as a two-time recipient of the Baldrige Award, the nation’s highest honor for organizational performance excellence. Hill shared the four steps that he called “the building blocks of high performing organization.” He encouraged the business leaders to first, create clarity about their organization’s “why” with a few vital few objectives. “Work on the best ‘you’ you can be and the rest will take care of itself.” The next step he shared was to build culture, and used an analogy of farming – “You have to have fertile ground for stuff to grow – that is what culture is.” The third step was to align your systems, as he quoted author James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits” – “You don’t rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems.” The fourth and final step Hill shared was to embed learning so that all levels of your organization are on the same page. He shared, “It doesn’t make sense to have a plan if you don’t work the plan.”

Norma Lansing, president and CEO of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce and master of ceremonies for the event, shared about the conference, “The Chamber was proud to partner with HSHS St. Anthony’s to present the Journey to Excellence conference to the area business community. The speakers provided great take away ideas for anyone attempting to add value and excellence to their companies. They also showcased that achieving excellence and finding inspiration to grow and succeed can occur in any type of business or any size of business,” she said. “We look forward to partnering with HSHS St. Anthony’s to offer more programming to the community on a variety of topics that inspire growth and development in Effingham County.”
Photo: HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital and the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a Journey to Excellence Conference and Business Showcase at the Keller Convention Center. Attendees were treated to informative and inspiring messages by speakers (left to right) Ben Krupowicz, executive director of Illinois Performance Excellence; Mark Probst, owner of Probst Auto Body; Norma Lansing, president and CEO of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce; Theresa Rutherford, president and CEO of HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital; Bill Teichmiller, CEO of EJ Water; and keynote speaker Cary Hill, CEO of MESA.

Media Contact

Brad Ochiltree

Manager, Marketing & Communications
HSHS Illinois
Office: (217) 464-1161

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