REVIEW: Robert J. Kohlhepp — Build a Better Organization (BOOK)

On paper, Robert J. Kohlhepp is an ideal guide for the burgeoning professional or out-and-out entrepreneur’s climb up the corporate and popularity-centric ladders. Affiliated with Cintas Corporation for many years, Mr. Kohlhepp rose through the ranks of general manager, vice president and treasurer, executive vice president, vice president, president, eventually landing the coveted position of company CEO. In the years since he also served as Vice Chair and Board Chair of the company until his retirement in 2016. Simply put, Mr. Kohlhepp is the quintessential American success story within the corporate sphere.


An ideal and idealistic in certain senses example of how with hard work, the right attitude, and an ideological marriage between good ethic and innovative quality one can achieve high levels of success and even be in a position to help shape the creation of a corporate endeavor going forward for the years to come. But while Kohlhepp could easily make his new book, titled Build a Better Organization, something of a leadership advice memoir where he is pitted as the central literary interface of the read, he has too much style, sense, and genuine humility to let that happen. He’s far more interested to use his hard-earned wisdom and accumulated knowledge to highlight examples of others appropriately analogous to the drier, statistically-driven inferences and descriptors the book provides in an elaborately broken down set of chapters, divided into three christened parts.

The fundamental cruxes of maintaining good business, Kohlhepp states, are very easy to discern. Frankly, as far as the author is concerned, good leaders make good neighbors. While such a concept would be something scoffed at traditionally speaking, Kohlhepp expertly articulates how such a modern set of tonalities actually compliment the age-old obsessions of continuing success, lucrative business performance(s), and being the lean horse for the longest possible ride. “The first component of the Cintas culture was its principal objective. The second was its corporate character, which represented the company’s values and philosophy about how, as an organization, it should operate.

Character, for us, reflected everything from how we acted toward our customers and toward each other to how we dressed; how we carried ourselves; what our facilities looked like; and what our communications, including memos, proposals, letters, and emails, looked and sounded like. In all cases, professionalism was the hallmark. It was the one quality we wanted Cintas to be known for above all else,” he states. “…The Cintas corporate culture became increasingly important as the company’s growth rate picked up. With new working partners regularly joining the team, we knew we needed to define the company’s character…By the same token, being able to clearly articulate our corporate character also made it easier to recognize language and behavior that were inconsistent with the desired (Cintas) reputation.


When our corporate character was crystal clear, then when someone did something that was completely out of character, or out of sync with set expectations, it was easy to spot. The sooner bad behavior was addressed, the easier it was to rectify or change.”

In short, maintain standards, draw boundaries, and maintain expert levels of communicative ability. It’s a win-win when everyone, top to bottom, speaks the same language Kohlhepp argues. Then the actuality of everything else has the fullest potential to blossom and thrive

Colin Jordan

Graduate: McNeese State University, Avid Beekeeper, Deep Sea Diver & Fisherman, Horrible Golfer

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Colin Jordan

Colin Jordan

Graduate: McNeese State University, Avid Beekeeper, Deep Sea Diver & Fisherman, Horrible Golfer

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