From Window Washer to Most Admired CEO
Jennifer Fogg-Lickteig is not your typical CEO. She began her career in advertising followed by more than twenty-five years in the construction industry and is currently the CEO of TBS Capital Funding and TBS Factoring, LLC. Most recently, Jennifer was honored as one of Oklahoma’s Most Admired CEOs by The Journal Record in Oklahoma City.
Since Jennifer joined the team five years ago, TBS Factoring has nearly doubled its topline revenue – growing from annual billings of $600 million to more than $1 billion last year by factoring receivables for trucking companies.
After working for TBS Factoring through a consulting gig, Lickteig developed a respect for the industry and the company. Unfortunately, many factoring companies have a reputation for predatory practices, but not TBS. Integrity is a key value to Lickteig, and she found that TBS valued it as well.
Unlikely path to success
Lickteig’s very first company was a window washing business she started when she was twelve years old. Three years later, at the ripe age of fifteen, she sold it to a high school senior for $2,000.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since,” she said.
From there, she elected to skip college and go right into the working world as a receptionist at an advertising agency. Which, through a series of almost unbelievable events, resulted in her owning her own agency just four years later.
Unfortunately, Lickteig had to close that business after only a few years. It was a personal lesson on what not to do that she has taken with her throughout her career. But it was also her exit from advertising that led to a twenty-five-year career in the construction industry.
Transforming a company’s culture to improve the bottom line
After consulting with company leadership for eight months, she joined the team at TBS full time as CEO. She’s spent the years since then transforming the culture into what it is today – a company that has been named among the Best Places to Work/Top Places to Work for six years running.
Lickteig’s vision is to create the happiest workplace possible because happy employees create happy customers. If you build people, you build the business,” says Lickteig. “When we can bring our whole self to work, we’re better here and we’re also better at home.”
So how did Lickteig tackle the tough task of transforming a negative culture to one where people say “they get to come to work”? A lot of tough conversations. Lickteig leans heavily on the concept of self-awareness as a mode of transformation. Company leaders have to acknowledge any unhealthy practices within the company before they can change them. Lickteig also explains it took a lot of patience.
“It can be like trying to turn a cruise ship with a popsicle stick,” she said. “It’s still moving, just slowly. It’s important to never put a time frame on something. If you’re ready to commit to making changes and creating a healthier work environment, you’ll see results.”
One of the employee benefits Lickteig is proud to provide is the TBS café with free gourmet coffee drinks, fruit, and snacks every day. Oklahoma is fourth in the county for food insecurity and she wants to make sure that no one at TBS experiences that.
Advice to upcoming women leaders
Lickteig has three key principles for aspiring women leaders:
#1: Practice self-awareness. Knowing how you are perceived by others will help you navigate difficult situations. Practice recognizing non-verbal cues and taking action based on those.
#2: No one is special. However, your actions, words and care for others give you distinction and that makes you someone who people want to follow.
#3: Be vulnerable. Vulnerability is what builds trust. Being able to admit that you don’t know everything, or that you’ve made mistakes helps others relate to you.
Being nominated to 2020 Class of Oklahoma’s Most Admired CEOs
In January 2020, Lickteig was selected as one of twenty-four honorees for the Oklahoma’s Most Admired CEOs by The Journal Record – this is actually the second time that Lickteig has been named an honoree, the previous time being in 2012 while serving as CEO of Assets Group, Inc. (AGI). Her newest nomination is a testament to the work Lickteig has done to turn around the culture at TBS Capital Funding and TBS Factoring.