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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jul. 29, 200912:00 PM EST

Teaching remains at heart in Robinson's new business

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by: David Chapman

by David Chapman

Staff Writer

Jim Robinson has had one thing in common during his more than 35-year career that’s taken him from the U.S. Army to leadership roles in several engineering firms.

It’s been his passion for teaching.

In the early part of his life, Robinson founded a successful engineering consulting firm, Robinson Engineering. But when he merged with Tampa-based King Engineering in 2002, he took a step back and wondered what was next.

It was then he remembered a book he had read, Bob Buford’s “HalfTime” and recalled some of its lessons and analogized the point in his life where he made the transition.

“It’s kind of like sports,” he said. “You have a first half and a second half ... as I remembered the book, it told of the first half of your life being devoted to achieving success, with the second half to achieve significance.”

It was his ongoing love of teaching that led him to his latest business endeavor to help businesses, as he stepped away from the engineering world full-time and “looked into the second half” by purchasing a Leadership Management Institute franchise.

With the franchise — one of more than 50 across the U.S. — Robinson will assist business owners by taking a diagnostic approach to help fix their issues and creating better leaders. Robinson compares the process to going in for a doctor’s visit and receiving a full examination to discover problems and then helping executives make effective changes.

“It matched up well with what I wanted to accomplish,” he said, regarding the teaching aspect of the job. “It’s about helping them understand any problems ... in the end I’d say it ends up being 99 percent facilitating (what any problems are) with one percent actually telling.”

Business leaders are able to get a taste — or as Robinson refers to it “a full meal” — through the LMI Executive Showcase. The two-hour-a-week, seven-week programs bring attention, while the length of the session allows for repetition and the process of change to take affect and mold better business habits and practices.

“The seven weeks really did make a difference,” said Lewis Hunter, principal of certified public accounting firm Hunter & Associates, as well as a participant in LMI. “It helps you set goals and then takes the steps and processes needed to achieve them.”

Lewis calls himself one of Robinson’s “biggest fans” and said in addition to learning himself, he’s able to take the knowledge he’s learned and pass it on to other members of his organization.

To date, Robinson’s helped business leaders from numerous industries — accounting, public sector, libraries, public relations, attorneys, bankers and even a pastor, to name a few — and while he admits some see it as an additional expense, he believes in the investment with a proven track record in the company’s 45-year history.

Robinson still does engineering consulting on a part-time basis, but does want to grow his LMI franchise and add associates as business allows.

Even if it is a new business forum unlike any other he’s established, he welcomes the challenge and believes in its work.

“It has been what I thought it would be,” he said. “There’s much value in it ... because there is such a high value placed on people.”

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