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People, process and performance focus of consulting business

Heather Martyn and Ellen Kendall recently went into business together as partners in Colorado Institue for Excellence, which is based in Steamboat Springs.
Photo courtesy of KEL ELWOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Heather Martyn and Ellen Kendall come from different backgrounds, but a shared interest in helping improve people and organizations has driven them to create the Colorado Institute for Excellence.

“Our main goal is to help organizations improve, and therefore, improve people’s lives,” said Kendall, who has been working in the consulting business for more than 35 years. “That’s the driver. If your work life improves, then your life improves.”

The two longtime friends and Steamboat Springs residents created the development and improvement company that helps organizations achieve excellence in all areas: people, processes and performance.

Martyn said the consulting business offers executive retreats, public and in-house workshops, facilitation and coaching to organizations of any size.

“It may seem like a challenging time to launch a new business, but we are finding this to be an especially critical time for organizations to improve all aspects of their business — reducing their costs while making sure they have the best processes and people to survive and flourish,” Martyn said, “Like all businesses during this time, we also had to pivot.”

Martyn said they’ve been unable to host the public workshops originally scheduled, but it prompted them to jump-start their video series and webinar outreach. There is a COVID-19 preparedness plan in place, and the organization is still holding in-house workshop sessions for small teams that she said are very effective.

Martyn has 20-plus years of experience in the private sector as a local entrepreneur and business owner, along with work with many area nonprofits and government agencies, including the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs. That will blend perfectly with Kendall’s 35 years of experience as an organizational improvement consultant. She has worked at businesses ranging from Fortune 100 companies to local businesses and nonprofits in Steamboat Springs.

Kendall said her approach was inspired by Dr. William Edwards Deming, a statistician whose ideas have been credited with inspiring the Japanese post-war economic miracle, and Bill Conway, who was CEO of the Nashua Corporation.

“I don’t want to take credit for things that I didn’t think up, develop or launch,” Kendall said. “So, I’m very careful to say it’s really about the people that have been the experts in my life in terms of generating this whole approach to management.”

Kendall met both men while working at the University of Tennessee and eventually went to work for Conway. She also took to heart the lessons she learned from the men — especially when it comes to the fundamentals of the process — that she has used the past 35 years in her consulting business.

“Everything I do is really based on Deming and Conway,” Kendall said. “Deming was the statistician, and Bill Conway was a person that speaks the language of business.”

The two women say they know Steamboat and are uniquely qualified to understand and respond to the critical needs of local organizations no matter the size. They also believe the fundamentals preached by Deming and Conway are still relevant in today’s business world.

“The approach is universal, right?” Kendall said, “How you do it is  going to vary by the industry in terms of the details, but the techniques, the tools and the philosophy are always the same.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.


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