Building a Legacy with Humility

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Taking over the reins of a successful generational company as someone without the family name is a prospect most people would find daunting. Being responsible for carrying on that legacy could even be considered a burden. But that’s not the case for my guest today. For him, an obligation to the employees of the company, to the next generation of leadership, and the legacy of the Higley name is a responsibility he has happily taken on.

Today we’re coming at you from right in my backyard in Northeast Ohio with another great leader and friend who I’ve known for over 10 years, Gareth Vaughan. Gareth Vaughan is the President and CEO of The Albert M. Higley Co. He received a BEng in Civil Engineering in 1991 from the University of Trent in the United Kingdom, and in 1993, an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. Gareth joined The Albert M. Higley Co. in 2001 as a Regional Manager and was elected President in 2010 and named CEO in 2017. Gareth’s mentorship from Bruce Higley contributed significantly to his leadership style and combined with his values and commitment, he is truly a great example of what it means to be a leader by attraction.

In this episode, Gareth and I talk about how the Albert M. Higley Co. has responded to the pandemic, the guiding principles the company is committed to, how Gareth’s childhood experiences propelled him into a high-performance career, what it means to dive headfirst into a brand-new role, battling imposter syndrome, lessons in leadership with humility, and so much more!

Key Topics:

  • How Gareth and I have connected over the years (1:22)
  • The evolution of The Albert M. Higley Co. (2:37)
  • The Albert M. Higley Co.’s commitment to becoming a better and more profitable company during the pandemic (5:28)
  • The guiding vision that steers the company during good and difficult times (7:39)
  • Articulating a 20-year plan (9:23)
  • How the company is flipping the concept of making money on its head (10:30)
  • The importance of strong company values (11:10)
  • Gareth’s warning to potential employees (12:14)
  • Gareth’s childhood in Cape Town and London (13:19)
  • The difficult experiences from Gareth’s time in high school (15:18)
  • How Gareth transformed his life from high school into college (16:09)
  • Gareth’s early career and move to Columbus (17:08)
  • The career-changing call from a headhunter (18:06)
  • The surprising request Gareth made while interviewing for a role at The Albert M. Higley Co. (19:01)
  • Diving headfirst into a brand-new role (20:05)
  • The discomfort of becoming president (22:19)
  • Battling imposter syndrome (23:48)
  • Lessons in leadership from Bruce Higley (25:36)
  • Gareth’s approach to building on the existing legacy of The Albert M. Higley Co. (28:50)
  • Why a focus on legacy makes Gareth’s job simpler (30:45)
  • What working with Bruce and Gareth taught me (32:31)
  • The huge impact Bruce had on how Gareth responds to his team (34:00)
  • How Gareth’s mother taught him about strength (36:43)
  • The advice Gareth would give to his 23-year-old self (38:39)
  • And much more!


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