In his book, Behind the Mask, Donald Hastings presents a professional memoir of his career with the Lincoln Electric Company. With an assist from his daughter, Leslie Hastings, he tells the story of his journey from salesman to chairman and CEO of the company.
Lincoln Electric specializes in the manufacture and sales of motors and welding equipment —the mask in the title is a welding mask—and right from the start, Hastings lets the reader know that this Fortune 500 Company is extremely atypical. The founders, John and James Lincoln, created a business culture designed to recognize the contributions of employees. Tenured workers were never laid off, and all received profit-sharing bonuses.
As a young man, Hastings was attracted by the ethics of his employers, and, in his eventual role as CEO, he preserved their high standards. During a time when other companies were downsizing, Hastings not only retained Lincoln Electric’s American workforce, but also managed to maintain their annual bonuses. He kept an open door to all of his employees and demonstrated that a company that valued and nurtured its personnel could be profitable and competitive. “Good management,” he claims near the conclusion of his book, “should treat their workers as people, not simply costs, and use creative and innovative ideas and practices to save them from the devastation of layoffs.”
Hastings states early in his book that its purpose is to inspire and, throughout its pages, he offers tips to fledgling entrepreneurs. For instance, he recommends marketing through distributors and emphasizes the importance of building relationships with both customers and dealers. He also stresses the value in taking occasional risks.
The tone of Hastings’ memoir is breezy and upbeat, and the book should be of interest to business-oriented readers. Because of its narrow focus on corporate sales and management, however, it is not likely to appeal to the mainstream reader.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.