Columbus McKinnon Case Study

Strong Hiring Methods for International Growth

No. of Employees: 2,500 Globally
Industry: Manufacturing


  • 85% of all salaried employees hired and promoted have turned out to be A Players
  • Topgraded internationally
  • Conducted refresher training courses to remind managers to not cut corners and risk mis-hires

The Company

Columbus McKinnon is a global leader in the manufacture of hoists and cranes. The organization has approximately 2,500 employees located in 16 countries. Before launching Topgrading in 2007, the company did not have sufficient hiring methods in place to continue its double-digit international growth.

Tim Tevens, CEO, knew the company was on a tear with extremely rapid international growth and that more executives and other senior managers had to be hired domestically and internationally. Says Tevens, “Hiring good performers would not have been good enough. I set the bar high – new hiring methods should produce over 80% A Players.”


Tevens and Vice President of Human Resources Rick Steinberg were concerned that the company was not optimizing their hiring processes to bring in the best people. Tevens heard about Topgrading from other CEOs, and he and Steinberg launched the methodology globally, starting with a Topgrading Workshop for the executive team.

"It was crucial that the top executives understand the reasons for the Topgrading hiring methods, so that they could monitor the methods and results as Topgrading was implemented globally,” says Steinberg.

Additionally, Topgrading Workshops were held for all managers in the organization, followed by periodic refresher workshops and training for new managers. Topgrading also advised the company on how to meld Topgrading components with the company application, create high quality Job Scorecards, and abbreviate and simplify Topgrading methods for lower level jobs.

"Topgrading has been essential in our international growth. Topgrading first helped us pick A Player leaders for China and other locations, and since has helped us pick A Players for all the exempt jobs throughout the company."

- Tim Tevens, CEO


After implementing Topgrading, Columbus McKinnon saw more successful international growth, and continued successful stock performance.

Hiring success before Topgrading was not measured, but with Topgrading, 85% of hires for all positions have been A Players or A Potentials.

"We’ve implemented Topgrading for all new salaried hires and promotions, and it has been a tremendous asset for our company. Our organization has embraced the philosophy and process and we believe we are seeing the business results, with the right people in the right positions."

- Rick Steinberg, VP Human Resources

Advice to Future Topgraders

  • Keep up by training new managers in the Topgrading methods, even though they will have been on the "other side." The process can become sloppy and lose some of its effectiveness if you don't.
  • Conduct Topgrading refresher courses every year or so, or the process can get a little stale, and corners can start to be cut.
  • Do not let candidates off the hook with setting up the reference checks. Not wanting to or having an excuse for not setting up a reference check with a former boss frequently means they have something to hide. There are exceptions to that, of course, but the reasons for exceptions should be thoroughly probed.
  • The Topgrading reference checks can provide tremendously enlightening information. They are set up to indicate to the reference that all of us have strengths and weaknesses, and that the information that they provide can help us to further develop the candidate should he or she be hired. I have had several references, upon completion of the discussion, indicate this was by far the best reference check they’ve ever been through – and that they actually enjoyed the discussion. - Tim Tevens, CEO

Talk to an advisor to see how Topgrading can help your organization.

Improve your hiring success with Topgrading. The Topgrading methodology will transform your hiring process by increasing the number of A player hires and decreasing the number of mis-hires. Our leadership and candidate assessment tools will help you assess, hire, retain, and grow high performing teams. Contact us to learn more about the Topgrading approach to hiring and start achieving better hiring results now!

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