Conservative Viewpoints

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Scott Sayre: A thinking man’s candidate

Posted by Stephen on March 9, 2007

“This is my time. It’s my time to see what I can bring to the Senate, to my community, and to Virginia. It’s my time to get something done,” said Scott Sayre, the Republican who is daring to challenge Republican incumbent Emmitt Hanger for the nomination for the 24th district Senate seat.

Sayre’s campaign is off and running. The goal in the early going is to allow people to get to know who he is, but more importantly, perhaps, to learn how he lives, thinks, and works. It is a tremendous challenge for any candidate running for the first time to get his or her name in front of the voting public, but in the valley the challenge is even more daunting. Communities are separated by mountainous terrain and often long distance drives. The life styles they lead are many times just as distant from one another making ‘getting to know you’ critical.

Sayre realizes the challenge but embraces all that it encompasses. When spending time with this dynamic challenger, one gets the impression that this mutual learning process is old hat to him. In fact, Sayre has been selling himself for many years.

Born and raised in Waynesboro, Virginia, Sayre went on to graduate from VMI in 1980. Shortly after graduation, Sayre joined the Army where he proudly served for nine years, earning three Meritorious Service Awards. While in active duty, he started Sayre Enterprises. The venture started out as a modest plan that, in 1987, existed in his garage with one employee and one product.

Today, Sayre Enterprises employs over 110 people in a light manufacturing, retail, wholesale and direct sales business that has an annual payroll of over 3 million dollars, and annual sales topping 10 million dollars. Sayre Enterprises is one of the largest employers of adults with disabilities in Rockbridge County. Touring the 30,000 square foot building in Buena Vista, Virginia, you learn that the products they manufacture are as diverse as the employees themselves.

Some of the more impressive endeavors of Sayre Enterprises are those that involve the military. The company that places logos on shirts, hats, and safety clothing, also provides numerous items for soldiers serving in Iraq today. In these things, Sayre believes exists the heart of his pursuits. He is a man that wants to provide something more for the world around him then a product that creates personal income.

It is clearly important to him that he give something of himself while working to expand his company. In doing so, Sayre has created a management philosophy that is deeply invested in providing opportunities for others to succeed. “It’s really about ownership. I believe if people feel a sense of ownership in what they do, they will put forth the best of who they are. They will have the best opportunity to succeed and grow. That type of growth helps all of us. It helps me and my business expand, it helps them improve their quality of life, and it helps improve the community we live in. That’s what leadership is about to me,” said Sayre surrounded by a team of loyal employees that long ago bought into his belief system.

Sayre likes the innovative nature of business. It is that world of thinking and creating ideas for solutions that he thrives in. Sayre believes that he can bring that same solution based thinking to Richmond. It revolves around in-depth planning because, “without planning you jump into things and inevitably make mistakes.”

Sayre uses what he calls the “Iceberg Model” to describe his business model. “Yes business is about making money, but it’s more than that,” explains Sayre as he discusses the idea behind his model. Anyone that has seen an iceberg realizes that what exists above water, that can be seen, is only a small part of the whole. The meat of the burg, if you will, is out of sight. While out of sight, it should never be out of one’s mind. That area below the surface is expanding and providing a foundation for what is seen above the water. In business, and in life, what we can’t see is typically more important than the final product.

Sayre believes that if people focus on what’s beneath the water, or behind the scenes, they will not only expand their dreams, they will improve their quality of life and they will be in the best position to help others do the same. His belief centers on the need for improving the culture of a community by driving values, ideas and tools for success to the deepest part of the iceberg, or company, in order to provide the most for people and the community.

“Business is just a tool to get us to where we need to go as a society. Sure it brings in income, but it also brings in more than that to the community. It provides jobs, it provides a way of life for an entire community. The values of that business speak to who we are just as much as the bottom line.”

Sayre’s employees understand the belief system he lives by, and they respect him for the person and leader he is.

“I can’t really speak to Scott Sayre the politician, but I feel like I know him as a man. His business puts him around a diverse array of people and he makes himself accessible, not just to those right around him but to every person in the plant. There aren’t too many large businesses that you can see the owner walking around and joking with people, and where you can walk up to him, tell him you have problem, and speak to him. He practices what he talks about,” explained Jonathon Queen, an employee of Sayre Enterprises.

How does this belief system translate into public service?

Sayre believes that what is needed to confront the challenges Virginia faces is a strong strategic plan that is built on a principled foundation. Fiscally, Sayre is clearly conservative. He consistently addresses concerns over increased spending that has become a staple of Richmond politics and decision making in recent years.

“What we need to remind our friends in Richmond is that raising taxes isn’t the answer, and shouldn’t be the first response to a fiscal challenge,” states Sayre.

He reemphasizes a business approach to government no matter the size or scope of the problem. That approach, in Sayre’s estimation, continually challenges leaders to create a responsible plan based on solid budgeting and long term solutions that require consensus building and collaboration. He strives to be only one voice, rather than the voice when discussing effective solutions to problems.

When discussing funding transportation, Sayre suggests reforms in tax and spend policies is the beginning of a discussion that demands disciplined solutions. Sayre explains that while there has been discussion of tax reform for more than twelve years, “Where is the tax reform? You’ve talked about being tax neutral and yet we have seen tax increase after tax increase. I’ll just say, very politely, let’s expose these things. If our government spending has doubled in the last ten years, while our population has only increased 12 percent, are you getting twice as good a government as you did ten years ago? Are your roads twice as safe? Are your cities twice as safe? This is what I want to address.”

All too often, in Sayre’s opinion, government takes the easy way out by relying on taxes to address raising revenue. He stresses that economic growth and raising taxes are not brothers, but in fact can be adversaries. He has practiced such approaches at Sayre Enterprises. When his employees desired long term disability insurance, Sayre put together a plan that would allow his people to increase the revenue of the company through an ownership model. Sayre allowed the employees to purchase the vending machines in the company. It seems simplistic until you examine the process closely.

The employees own and operate the machines. They are in charge of maintenance, purchases, expenditures, stocking, revenue management, and all other decisions relevant to the vending business. The result was an overwhelming success. The company now offers the long term disability insurance program because the revenue presented itself by way of economic expansion, ownership, and fiscal discipline provided by the very people that benefitted the most, the employees themselves.

Sayre believes he can accomplish more by addressing challenges with innovative approaches. He expresses a need to address transportation with diverse solutions, to increase funds to education through fiscal discipline, to find solutions to immigration challenges, to increase opportunities to serve communities, to assist the agricultural industry and a litany of other needs. He has put together steering committees made up of leaders from across the valley to bring expertise and creative thinking to address long term solutions.

Many questions remain for the Sayre campaign. Do they have time to create name recognition? Can they get their message out before June 12? Will they provide even greater details that the public will demand to the questions that they have regarding the various needs here and across Virginia?

The clock is ticking, but so is Republican Scott Sayre, and he’s hoping that a bomb will go off on June 12 in the form of votes for his business approach to government, his values approach to life, and his belief in what he can bring to Richmond to solve the problems that face the people of the Shenandoah Valley.

Stephen Winslow is the executive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.


One Response to “Scott Sayre: A thinking man’s candidate”

  1. Scott Sayre said

    You got it! It will be my values approach to solutions which will unite my colleagues in the Senate. Above the water is the solution (and with the money we have….)below the water I am going to build on our mutual values of community and responsibility while fostering trust and providing strategic thinking to get the job done with a goal tied to performance dates. My bet is that philisophical leadership based on values and proven performance will get the ball rolling on these folks who already have some pretty good ideas. Thanks for taking the time to be concerned about our future!

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