By Chad Fraughton
Cornerstone’s 27-year success story features many instances of mutually beneficial partnerships with companies and individuals providing complementary services; it also spawned six “sister” companies from internal resources to help meet the evolving needs of its clients.
Lean and mean. Some companies proudly wear that descriptor as a de facto portion of their mission statements. Others are forced to run that way by necessity, especially during those exhilarating and exhausting early years. At Cornerstone, we’ve been guided by the desire to be the one-stop resource for our clients – a desire that has fueled our growth. But the truth is it’s not always viable for one entity to house all the specific services required to take care of your client’s needs. Cornerstone has relied on strategic partnerships to fill those gaps.
Writing for Entrepreneur magazine, Kate McKay noted, “The ability for an entrepreneur to forge a strategic partnership (whether it is a business partnership, a joint venture or a shortterm alliance) is critical for continued financial success in an ever-changing and highly competitive environment.” During its history, Cornerstone has entered into a number of alliances with labor providers, independent technicians and gear houses, among others. Going into such agreements, one must be crystal clear on exactly what one has to offer and what one hopes to gain.
Commonality and Shared Vision
Everyone comes with different strengths and weaknesses; however, the best partnerships work because of shared vision and values – complemented with equal parts excitement and passion for what both parties want to do and how they want to grow. These commonalities can carry the partnership through any sticking points in negotiations. Partnerships work more smoothly when each party’s strengths shore up the connection to create elevated and shared success.
However, during negotiations, don’t be afraid to pump the brakes. There’s no need to hurry into a deal. Like a crazy good first date, sometimes initial excitement and enthusiasm can blind you to foibles and red flags. Set up follow-up meetings to address next steps and ensure both parties are on board and equally committed. Lack of follow-through can bring stress and strain in the future.
When hashing out the details of what each party brings to the table, some push and pull is definitely to be expected. There may be disagreements, which can make some people uncomfortable. Don’t be that person. Instead, be prepared – adequate preparation allows you to be clear on when to stand firm, and when it’s OK to give way. Commit to moving through sticking points with grace and tact. Expect and work toward achieving win-win relationships. Initial enthusiasm can open the door, but perseverance seals a good deal.
Finally, remember that great partnerships require great protection. Seal agreements in writing to avoid messy breakups in the future. It can be a hard conversation, but it may also be the most important conversation. Contracts don’t destroy relationships; they preserve them. Respect yourself enough to protect yourself and your ideas.
Building Partnerships from Within
Equally important in the history of Cornerstone is organically growing and creating new companies from within. These are companies that add vital services to the Cornerstone portfolio, strategically created to meet the emerging needs of our clients.
Cornerstone co-founder Todd Mortenson and I have always prided ourselves on creating a family culture inside our company, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when these “kids” started coming. Since 2003, Cornerstone has spun off six separate enterprises that have successfully contributed to the company’s mission.
Cornerstone Logistics. Meeting logistical needs has been a long-time Cornerstone advantage. We can be anywhere at any time – meeting deadlines and staying in budget.
Flex Rental Solutions. I like to think of this as the “Google” of our industry. We took VPN mobile software for service and made it web-based for ease in problem solving. The software dramatically streamlined our business, plus today it helps more than 1,500 companies streamline their business, too.
EventLab. Designs immersive brand environments unique to each client’s culture and message.
Entertainment 2.0. Gives clients a direct pathway to hiring headline entertainment and keynote speakers.
The Forge. Brings creative renderings to life, building custom brand environments.
Destination by Design. Procuring premium event space while negotiating hotel and property contracts that result in significant savings for our clients.
Cornerstone’s reputation as the go-to company for live events – not only in Utah, but also nationally and across the globe – is well-earned, aided in no small part by the mutually beneficial strategic partnerships we’ve fostered both outside, and inside, the enterprise.
About Chad Fraughton
Chad is the co-founder at Cornerstone Technologies. For more than a quarter-century, Cornerstone has provided the technological and creative infrastructures for live corporate events and brand experiences for companies across the U.S. and throughout the world.