“Pay attention to the people at the back of the line.”
Fitting words from Jim Hallett, KAR Global Chairman and CEO. It’s the story of his life.
Raised by a single mother in Canada living below the poverty line, Jim learned two important lessons early on: give what you have, and you can accomplish anything if you outwork everyone else. His career began with selling cars before he could even afford to drive one. He went on to build a multi-billion-dollar car auction company – 3.5 million cars worth $40 billion dollars last year in fact. Before success came the struggle when he was fired from the company he founded. Knocked down, but not out, Jim bought his company back and grew it into the Fortune 700 international giant it is today. Now a citizen of both Canada and the United States, Jim sees himself as “an immigrant living the American dream.”
Yes, pay attention to the people at the back of the line. With a little help, they can accomplish very big things.
Hallett welcomed Conscious Capitalism – Indianapolis to the new, state-of-the-art headquarters of KAR Global in Carmel, Indiana, for the chapter’s 2020 kickoff event on January 29. The convening boasted the second largest attendance in the chapter’s history and represented nearly 100 different central Indiana businesses and organizations. With the theme of “Shifting into a More Conscious Business,” Hallett shared his story and how he built KAR Global into one of Indiana’s most conscious companies.
Conscious Leadership: “Take Care of Your People”
Hallett believes the most important job of any leader is taking care of employees. Despite having 15,000 workers in 12 countries and 200 locations, he considers each of them family. Therefore, he wants them happy, healthy, and safe. In developing the new headquarters that opened in July 2019, Hallett responded to employee requests by including a fitness center and health clinic. The design combats corporate silos and skipping lunch using its cafeteria which provides multiple types of cuisine, collaborative seating, and always offers a $5 lunch option for budget-conscious staff. To minimize its environmental footprint, the building is void of trash bins and single-use plastics. There is no reserved executive parking. Hallett, with his outwork everyone mentality, believes whoever gets to work first should get the best spot.
Ask Hallett what keeps him up at night as CEO and he won’t answer income statements or balance sheets. Employee safety is a top concern, so a hallmark of KAR is a program that includes 300,000 training hours per year for staff and a highly skilled security team. Hallett wants to make sure he delivers his employees back safely to their families every day.
Conscious Culture: “Take Care of Your Community”
KAR provides an employee assistance fund with financial support from staff to help team members in times of crisis. The company also partners with charitable organizations including the United Way, City Life Wheels, and Habitat for Humanity. KAR leadership encourages employees to volunteer during paid hours to support the community.
Hallett takes an approach to charity much deeper than just writing checks. Indiana is known for basketball. Hallett wanted to offer Hoosier children an alternative sport, so he brought the Fuel minor league hockey team to Indianapolis as a gift to the city and a nod to his Canadian heritage. More than just another sports team, the Fuel has donated nearly $1.5 million to charity since 2014, has its players working within the community, and supports one of Indiana’s most iconic historic venues.
Higher Purpose: “Embrace Responsibility and Capability”
For Hallett, his story is less about reward and more about responsibility to keep doing more. He challenged the audience to embrace their talents, skills, and means to serve a higher purpose. He believes opportunity breeds an obligation and ability to give back and support those around you. Hallett ended the evening by issuing a challenge: 2020 is a leap year, so what will your company do with its extra day to give back?
Pay attention to the people at the back of the line. They just might become one of the world’s great CEOs, global citizens, and Conscious Capitalists. Jim Hallett is proof and now he is paying it forward.