South End firm streamlines area businesses

As many Beacon Hill and South District Journal readers know, southeast Seattle is one of the Emerald City's best-kept secrets. The region is filled with diversity and genius- seemingly ordinary people doing not so ordinary tasks without notice or fanfare.

One such hidden gem is Griffin, Hill & Associates, LLC (GHA). Housed in the business complex at 5100 S. Dawson St., GHA is a seven-year-old management consulting firm specializing in productivity improvement for businesses of all shapes and sizes. The focus of GHA is to help organizations work smarter by maximizing resources in the areas of construction, financial needs, administrative support, project management, information systems/technology services, training, and customized consulting services.

The aim of GHA is to help businesses achieve their productivity goals and implement effective change. It provides clients with practical tools and strategies that help them gain full value from their employees, their customers, and their information assets. GHA helps businesses - new or established - to work smarter, thereby increasing their success. What makes GHA so unique is the vast expertise of its staff and the company's ability to tailor services to meet the needs of small and large businesses.

According to Carl Griffin, senior partner, people need opportunities to succeed. Sometimes that means teaching staff and senior management new ways of doing business and utilizing best practices to improve productivity. Griffin also asserts that productivity may be improved by changing the process of doing the same old job. In other instances, Griffin notes that organizations need to look at the chemistry of their organization: the people and the interactions that form the heart of each business.

"GHA is about streamlining the processes, procedures, and technologies to give businesses easier ways to produce services and eliminate pure waste," said Griffin. "People become experts in their current way of doing business. Their ego is shaped around it. Often times its difficult for people to make change even when the change is better for the organization."

Duane Hill, senior partner, concurred.

" People need to be part of the solution," asserted Hill. "The more people are involved in helping to generate solutions, the greater the likelihood people in the organization will continue to grow and be advocates. Our job, then, is to help people do what they do better, to remove barriers to improvement, so the organization improves on an ongoing basis."

Strength in diversity

Another unique aspect of the company is the incredible wealth of education and experience, in both the public and private sectors, of every staff member. Every member of the organization has at least one educational degree with over 60 percent of GHA associates holding an advanced degree.

In terms of experience, the company's typical staff member has over 10 years of labor in one or more of the following areas: management consulting, finance, accounting and payroll, government and private industry, information technology, program planning, group facilitation, and training.

Valerie A. Smith, senior consultant, is one such example. As a skilled facilitator and trainer and as one who enjoys talking with people, she has had more than 25 years of experience facilitating groups throughout the U.S. and Canada. Her many talents include group facilitation skills, expertise with strategic planning, customized workshop development, and an ability to effectively communicate with a wide range of audiences.

To Smith, GHA is about making connections with the South End community and beyond while developing both short and long-term relationships, based on a record of trust.

Shaping up the locals

GHA has assisted numerous Puget Sound organizations to work smarter at what they do. Some examples include Sound Transit, King County Government, The Port of Seattle, King County Library System, Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle City Light, Pinkerton Consulting, a private investigation firm, Seattle Monorail Project, and the Washington State Office of Minority and Women's Business Enterprise.

Griffin proudly shared the fact that GHA's conference facilities have been utilized by a number of small businesses, another example of his company's willingness to help new businesses get started.

One way GHA has impacted the area is through the creation of a combined utility bill paying system for Seattle City Light. As many long time Seattle residents know, for years these utilities were billed separately, a frustrating system for many people. In June 1998, this process changed thanks to GHA, resulting in improved customer services along with financial savings.

Another community contribution spearheaded by GHA was a streamlined payroll accounting system for employees of the King County Library system. This project led to a more timely process for employees and vendors getting paid while simultaneously providing timely data. A major undertaking, the system was created from scratch and was finished on time and on budget.

Most recently GHA has been involved in creating a tracking and management system targeting real estate acquisition along the MLK corridor. When finished, this system will improve efficiency and enhance communication for numerous parties involved in the project, again helping businesses work smarter at what they do.

"One strength of GHA is our willingness to listen, to help clients clarify goals and objectives," said Smith. " We are a small business and we are aware of the challenges and opportunities of being a small business. We offer customized services that meet people where they are on an individualized basis. To us, there is no pre-set recipe or shrink-wrapped solution. We tailor our services to the client's needs."[[In-content Ad]]