The torch has been passed and Kasey Whitman has been appointed as Watson Gloves’ new President! This year, Kasey will be celebrating 19 years at Watson Gloves, and like Marty, has walked a similar road to Presidency. Kasey navigated through many roles in Watson Gloves, and his experience, leadership, and energetic personality have led him to the position of President. We sat down with Kasey for a Q&A to learn more about him and his new role.
How did you get your start at Watson Gloves?
Kasey Whitman with his wife during Watson Gloves’ 100th Year Anniversary Party
I didn’t even apply for the job! My wife put in my application when she saw a job posting for Watson Gloves in the North Shore News newspaper. I got an interview with Marty for an Inside Sales position and got hired on August 13, 2001.
In 2003, I headed out to Calgary to start an opportunity in Outside Sales. At that point, I was bought into the company, had great relationships with Barrie and Marty, and charged forward with my career path at Watson Gloves.
How did Marty, our now Chairman and CEO, play a role as a mentor in your professional development?
In 2007, Marty put me in charge of Operations and Sales for all of the Prairies. I was still at a relatively young age, but Marty never questioned my decisions. He let me be very autonomous in finding my own way of managing and leading and allowed me to take pretty big risks.
Marty and I also spent so much time together, whether it’s in Canada travelling to Sales calls or oversea trips in Asia. We’d spend upwards of 21 days together attached at the hip. We’d talk about all things gloves – Marty would educate me on the glove industry, the history and culture of Watson Gloves, and stories of his grandfather and dad. His passion and enthusiasm for gloves really showed and influenced my passion for gloves.
Marty Moore & Kasey Whitman during Watson Gloves’ 100th Year Anniversary Party
You’ve spent almost 20 years at Watson Gloves. What are the biggest things you’ll take away from that experience and apply to your position as President?
A good family friend of mine was the Captain of a Fire Department and said he and his team would always take the stairs instead of an elevator when entering a building. That really stuck with me and I applied that to my own values with business. I always tell the team, I didn’t take the elevator to get to this position, I had to take the stairs. The best way I can lead is to ensure we take the stairs. It might be a harder path but it’s the way to keep the team safe.
Marty has always been about giving employees autonomy at work, as well as building a culture of great people and innovation. What do you hope to bring to the table as the new Watson Gloves President?
I think we’re both aligned with giving autonomy to people. With the new generation of workers, trust and respect are more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled us to make an organizational change from a conventional structure to a more flexible one with over half of our employees working from home. Trust, respect and autonomy are looked at in a new way, as we’re all in separate work environments, but the mindset is still the same. Leading with an agile, infinite mindset to the constant changes of the future while giving our teams the autonomy in their work will help us succeed in the future.
Kasey Whitman in his Inside Sales job
Kasey Whitman & Barrie Moore
What gives you that drive to do what you do at work?
The challenges I face are what keeps me going. Early on, it was the competitiveness of selling a lot and making a name for myself in the industry. Now, it has shifted towards taking care of the team – and that has been VERY important this year. With everything surrounding COVID-19, we see employers laying off people and businesses struggling. So my motivation has centred on making sure everyone in the company is still working while retaining their full salary during these times. And currently, as it sits, even with the Canadian factory, we’ve managed to get everybody working.
Let’s talk about teams. Our company is all about the Watson Family and working together – as a family and as a team. What does the Watson Family and Watson culture mean to you?
Watson Gloves’ Core Values
Our core values are what makes up our culture. I helped write these core values with our executive team and the one that resonates with me the most is authenticity. I haven’t had to change who I am to be where I’m at and I always encourage new hires to be who they are. We hire them because we like them as people, so don’t try to be who you’re not.
With the Watson Family, it all comes back to how we take care of each other – even the little things like travelling out of province or country and checking up on them to see if they’re doing okay and if they have arrived safely. Family values are evident every single day in little ways. I’ve got many stories of how I’ve been taken care of during my lowest points. Marty has taken care of me and my family. And I like to think I’ve done the same for our employees by being there during personal difficulties. We have to be conscious that people have lives outside of Watson. They might show up differently at work and I think it’s important to have that sensitivity and empathy with these things and also be there for each other.
What’s your advice to those who have goals in being aspiring leaders in their companies?
You’ve got to have a ton of tenacity. You’ll have people who are challenging and things that you don’t always like. I’ve seen a lot of leaders get to a certain point and then change direction and go to a new job. My success is continuity. I stayed the course and I don’t think about the grass being greener somewhere else. Find that right place where you’re aligned with the core values and be tenacious and be yourself. That’s more or less the secret to my success.
Marty’s advice to you is to be like an orchestra conductor. How good are you conducting an orchestra?
Kasey Whitman & Marty Moore
That’s the constant challenge. What he says is true. If you pay too much attention to one section, your other sections can fall. In my time in Calgary, I was thrust into an environment where I had to learn how to run the whole business unit. Marty afforded me that opportunity by letting me find my way in leading the Calgary team. The music and ensemble might be louder and bigger, but I think I’ll be okay.
Are you able to share a bit about Watson Gloves’ direction in the next year or two?
We’re not here just to sell products, not here to be transactional or tie ourselves to revenue goals. We’re here to change the industry. We have bold, idealistic ideas and we think we can get the entire glove industry following us, which starts with leading on sustainability and innovation.
And there you have it! Ushering in a new era is our new President, Kasey Whitman! We can’t wait to see where Watson Gloves takes off under the leadership of Kasey. For our Q&A with our now Chairman & CEO, Marty Moore, click here.
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