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Leader Testimonials

MICHAEL SICHER

CEO & Owner, IDENTITI

"My team and I worked with Jude for about three years. It was an extremely rewarding experience for us on both a personal and professional level. Whether it be collaboratively building a strategic plan to achieve our vision, transforming and growing the culture to execute at a higher level, coaching and growing senior and emerging IDENTITI leaders to perform at a higher level, developing an operating rhythm using a balanced scorecard to improve accountable execution of the plan, or any of the other countless initiatives Jude helped us execute, it is clear that his fingerprints are all over the successful growth of our culture and our business as a whole. It should be added that our company’s successful navigation of the Covid-19 pandemic was made possible in large part because of Jude’s guidance and expertise.

 

Jude will always tell you exactly how it is. He isn’t afraid to tell you the unpleasant truths, which is exactly what we needed as an organization. I will forever be grateful for my time with Jude and I can’t recommend him more strongly to anyone interested in his many talents as a growth and strategy expert."

ganesh Iyer

Board Chair, NEUCO Inc.

CEO, Etnyre International

"Our recently formed Board of Directors urged the owners of our company to embark on a visioning and strategic planning exercise to help navigate the impressive growth NEUCO has achieved. We interviewed and considered proposals from several top-notch firms. We selected JDR Growth Partners because of their collaborative methodology and their promise to 1) improve teamwork amongst our leadership team, 2) fuel workforce engagement, and 3) positively transform our culture as key outcomes of the JDR process.

 

Jude struck a unique balance of educating, guiding, and challenging our leaders. They learned how to envision and articulate future success and build a plan to achieve it. Most impressive was Jude’s ability to encourage more healthy debate and inspire leadership at all levels throughout our company. Rather than telling them what to do, he helped our leaders discover and own their collective path forward leveraging his many years of experience to ask the right questions at just the right time. He also provided 1:1 coaching to help each of our leaders improve their leadership and teaming skills.

 

We now have a more cohesive leadership team executing an ambitious plan for continued profitable growth for years to come, and a more engaged workforce working cross-functionally to make it happen. I highly recommend JDR Growth Partners."

Tracy Tunney-Ward

CEO, Miramar Services, Inc.

"We did an exhaustive, nationwide search for someone who could help us step back from our family office and rethink what it should provide our clients and how we provide it. We screened plenty of consultants with academic approaches, but we really hoped we would get someone who could help us deliver. With Jude we got both. He combined the strategic rigor that we needed to reimagine the business with the operational expertise to help us execute ambitious new plans. He had a deep level of engagement and applied just the right touch to get the most out of very diverse constituencies and stakeholders. As a bonus – and probably the ingredient that is most glaringly missing from most of these engagements – he quickly gained our trust."

Andrew Warrington

President, UCC Environmental

"We hired JDR Growth Partners after several false starts at a new strategy. We had been struggling to get alignment between management, our board of directors and company ownership despite several attempts to create a vision and solid strategy for the company. Jude used his immense credibility as a former CEO and experienced consultant to help us craft a simplified new direction over a series of work sessions. He engaged ownership as well as our board and leadership team to build innovative approaches to our significant market challenges. Although we are a very successful market leader in our core market, Jude helped us devise a focused strategic direction to expand beyond our core business. He coached us all and used his methodology to help us craft meaningful and measurable targets for the future and lead accountable execution of the plan. I would recommend him to any CEO or owner looking for help with strategy and/or leadership development and coaching, including helping owners simplify and clarify their vision."

Gregg Skala

Vice President of IT, NEUCO Inc.

"I have worked with many consultants during my 30+ years at Neuco.  But working with JDR Growth Partners is very different. Jude doesn’t just come in and tell you what you need to do to improve your business.  He trained our entire leadership team how to do it ourselves.  When this process first started, I was skeptical.  I was not a part of the interview process and had no idea what to expect. I wondered why do we have to pay JDR if we are doing all the work?  But that is the brilliance of the JDR process.  It is exactly like the old saying: Give a person a fish, they eat for a day. Teach them to fish, and they eat for a lifetime. JDR did not just give us a fish. They taught us how to fish.   

 

The 1:1 coaching sessions with our team members are the secret sauce.  Jude is like having a pocket MBA program working with and coaching your management team 24x7.  He coaches our team to be better, to want more, and to dare greatly.  In all the years I have been here at Neuco, working on this strategic plan has been the most rewarding work I have ever done! I have learned more with JDR in the past year than at any other time of my career.  

 

On a personal note, Jude is a great person to work with. He is an invaluable resource, mentor and friend. You find out quickly that he really cares about you as a person as much as he cares about how well the company performs.  It is that personal touch that makes him better than your average strategic planning consultant. His depth and breadth of experience also gives him great perspective on what works and what doesn’t.  It is his experience as a CEO that is invaluable. He speaks with authenticity as one who has been there and done it. As a result, he quickly gains the respect of everyone involved, even the skeptics. In the end, WE crafted our vision and strategic plan, but we couldn’t have done it without JDR."

Jay Madary

CEO & Owner, JVM Realty

"I started working with Jude in early 2016 with the goal to improve myself as a CEO and my company. As a successful second generation privately held company, I wanted to ensure JVM was well positioned with the most talented leaders and most efficient and effective processes to support our long-term growth objectives. Jude was extremely effective in working with myself and JVM’s senior leadership team to identify and focus on our strengths, while addressing opportunities for improvement. Through an engaging strategic planning process, Jude not only facilitated the development of a formal strategic plan, but continues to work with JVM to coach our leaders through the implementation of the plan. I would highly recommend Jude to other organizations with the passion to succeed."

Bob Lazzerini

CFO, Wahl Clipper Corp.

"Jude is by far the best I have ever worked with in my 30+ year career to help an organization navigate through and develop a strategic plan.  His approach is not to build a strategic plan and dust it off once per year but to engrain it into your operating rhythm.  He challenges and pushes your thinking.  Jude drives you to address your weaknesses and focus on the biggest opportunities for growth. His uncommon ability to orchestrate constructive debate leads to solid plans, heightened teamwork and accountable execution.  He has a world class professional and calm approach but is not afraid to drive you hard to improve and think bigger.  The best part about working with him is you also gain a great friend and mentor for life working with him.  Jude is a rare find and a class act."

Anne K. Smart

Director of The Family Business Center at The Quinlan School of Business, Loyola University Chicago

"Jude Rake takes apart and examines strategy through the lens of servant leadership.  His practical approach offers a clear eyed and accessible solution to first understanding and then overcoming a company’s obstacles to growth.  The leader’s responsibility to be self aware, empowering of others and accountable are not new concepts– but Jude’s treatment is a breath of fresh air that leaders can intuitively understand and quickly adopt to create positive and sustainable change in themselves, their teams and their firms."

Greg Cohen

CEO, Magid Glove & Safety

"We spent a year and a half working with Jude facilitating the development of a strategic plan, as well as focusing on leadership development and cross-functional collaboration. Jude’s mantra, “Preserve what is great about MAGID while driving the change needed to help MAGID achieve its’ full potential” was right on target for a 4th generation privately held successful company. As a result of working with Jude, Magid has focused more clearly on our purpose and developed a unifying envisioned future. His methodology also helped us identify and cultivate future leaders across the company. We now have a clear plan with which to move forward. When our employees were recently asked the question: “I am excited about Magid’s future”—we received an 83% positive response. We would definitely recommend Jude for strategic planning work if you want to take your company to the next level!"

Steve McShane

CEO & Owner, Midtronics

"Jude is leading a strategic planning process for us that has our executive team totally engaged, working together over an extended period to develop a compelling envisioned future. In the process, we have assessed our purpose and values, recognizing our strengths and weaknesses as we are creating the objectives, goals, strategies and metrics that will guide us through the exciting world we have ahead of us, meeting the challenges of technology advancement in the industries we serve. Jude is an inspirational and motivational coach and respected mentor for our leadership team. He is helping us align our company's strategic vision and core values with those of our key customers and industry partners. His facilitation and leadership have helped encourage our team to move forward with greater confidence in our ability to achieve the growth to which we aspire."

john Gounaris

VP of Marketing, G&W Electric

"We selected JDR Growth Partners to facilitate our strategic planning process.  Jude worked with the Executive Leadership Team over a period of about 18 months to revise our strategic plan and, afterwards, we chose to continue our engagement with him for individual coaching of our leadership team.  

 

Jude’s approach emphasizes the importance of the strategic planning process which drives engagement at the executive level and throughout our organization.  This taught the importance of driving deeper into the organization so our company’s ‘Difference Makers’ could have impact on the strategic direction of the company.  His style is authentic, weaving journals, articles, and real-life examples from his own career into the experience.  As a result of our work together, we have improved our focus, and our ability to communicate our strategic direction to our employees.  

 

Our Executive Leadership team is more honest about our shortcomings and are better able to have open, honest (and difficult) conversations to set the company on a better track as a result of working with Jude.  Our industry is experiencing transformational change and, through our work together, we identified the capabilities needed to be better prepared for that future.  All of these improvements have also had a positive impact on the company’s performance and culture.

 

Jude will help your senior leadership team work better together.  They will set a better example for extended leadership within your organization to help you and your company grow and improve."

Stanton Lewin

CEO & Founder, LKH&S

"Jude was the keynote speaker at our recent conference in Miami and he spoke about servant leadership. In a word, he “crushed” it. In our post event follow-up survey Jude not only had the highest scores among presenters for that event, but the highest we have seen among any event we've executed. Jude has fantastic command of material and speaks to the audience with authenticity and a very resonant tone. He is highly effective because he uses references (corollaries and analogies) to which we can all relate."

Linda Salem

CEO, Great Plains Manufacturing

"Jude quickly assessed and helped us articulate our core culture and strengths. Just as importantly he guided us to identify and articulate weaknesses in our organization and gave us the tools to address these. He brought a market driven focus to our historically engineering and manufacturing driven strategies. His focus on developing leaders and collaboration across all functions of the company has resulted in a lasting improvement in our ability to manage complexity in a focused and strategic manner."

John L. Ward

Co-director of The Center for Family Enterprises and Clinical Professor of Family Enterprises at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and co-founder of The Family Business Consulting Group

“The most successful, sustaining family business leaders we know are committed to developing and refining a personal philosophy of leadership. Jude Rake provides an excellent example of such. His decades of experience and reflection have formed a compelling model of leadership principles and purpose. His devotion to servant leadership is inspiring.”

William Hallock

General Counsel and Board Director, Construction Specialties Inc.

"I highly recommend Jude because I have seen his leadership principles in action, and they work. During the time our family-owned company has worked with Jude, we have focused our organization on strategic priorities and improved collaboration, innovation, accountability and most importantly our results."

Camille cleveland

General Counsel, Blue Nile

"Jude displayed a keen strategic sense at a challenging and transitional time for the Company. His win-win approach to negotiating, his willingness to think out of the box and his sharp analytical mind played a critical role in positioning the company for acquisition...Jude is very team-oriented. He works hard to make the team successful as a whole and individually. He makes each member of the team feel valued; he gives credit freely to others. Jude is not only a leader, but he can pull his sleeves up and work side by side to assist in getting a deal done. Personally, he has an indomitable and positive spirit, coupled with a high sense of integrity and commitment to others. I will always be grateful for the experience I gained working with Jude."

Staci Kring

Chief Revenue Officer, Organic Valley

"I was looking for an executive coach and a friend of mine in the industry recommended Jude.  What I appreciated was his ability to ask probing questions and challenge me to think differently so that I could look at opportunities and obstacles through a different lens.  The time I spent with Jude was invaluable as he helped me reconnect with my confidence which in turn enabled me to make some decisions positively impacting my leadership and career path.”

Tim King

Chief Administrative Officer at Miramar Services, Inc.

"I worked with Jude for 18 months. From the outset I thought I would benefit from his work more than I benefited from any other consultant over the past three decades ... and a year and half later that sentiment proved to be even more accurate than I had hoped. Meetings with Jude are not filled with cliches and rehashed concepts (as is the case with so many business consultants); they were productive and efficient working sessions that achieved transformational results. Having been an experienced and successful operator made his counsel so much more practical than I expected. He builds leadership skills that can have as much effect on the business as better strategies, planning and execution. As a bonus, he is extremely easy to work with."

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