Editor's Note: Who are the movers and shakers in Los Gatos? Those who lead by example, change things around and make us better by challenging the status quo and having integrity? This is the third installment in our Names in the News Q&A feature, formerly called Most Influential.
Former Los Gatos Mayor Randy Attaway was born in California but raised in the state of Washington. At 19, he returned to the Golden State and attended College of the Sequoias in the Central Valley and then San Jose City College before joining the plumbers and pipefitters union.
In 1978, Attaway decided to build a home in Los Gatos and has resided in town ever since with wife Sara. His first participation as a volunteer began with the Strawberry Festival. (The fundraiser for Ming Quong) Through this involvement he was encouraged to run for the Los Gatos Town Council in 1982, but lost.
He became interested in serving Los Gatos and began volunteering as a member of the board, then joined the Los Gatos Community Services Commission and, after a number of years, was appointed to the Los Gatos Planning Commission. Two years later, he ran for Town Council again and was elected.
Attaway served 12 years on the Council, three of those years as mayor. As a Council member he participated on many Bay Area committees and boards and served as the chairperson of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for two years.
Attaway said being on the Council was an invaluable experience. He noted it taught him to listen carefully to both sides of an issue and that "there are always two sides." He also said he learned "not to be reactive" to people’s comments, and to "listen to the last speaker at the microphone as intently as the first."
As part of his business, Attaway wanted to give back to the sheet metal industry and agreed to be the president of the California Association of Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors for the year 2011-12.
Los Gatos Patch: What is your biggest contribution to the town?
Randy Attaway: I believe it was in 1994 when, as mayor, I took a risk to encourage the Brazilian soccer team and their fans to celebrate in and with our community. The Town of Los Gatos was recognized throughout the world and our citizens could not have enjoyed the experience more. Working to make this event memorable for everyone was very stressful but absolutely worth the effort.
Patch: What area do you feel you have the most influence in?
Attaway: I believe that I have the most influence with people when I show that I really care and that I listen to them intently. I try to show them both sides of the fence, whether it was on Town Council or at my business. They see that I don’t make a decision without a lot of thought. Now I encourage my employees and others to learn as much as they possibly can before making any decision that affects someone else.
Patch: What is the area of most influence in your profession?
Attaway: I try to lead by example and demonstrate that our customers are truly number one. Obviously we endeavor to make a profit at the end of the year but customer satisfaction is what we strive for. If you do a good job and go beyond expectations, the benefits will come naturally. Profit should not be the #1 driver in business; the bottom line is still providing personal service.
Patch: How do you challenge those that work with you to become better?
Attaway: I encourage them to take personal risks. One example is going to high level meetings. This has, at one time or another, been intimidating to us all. But to help employees grow, I take them with me. When an important question is asked I sometimes defer to them so that they learn to rise to the occasion. They would not have done this on their own so everyone wins.
Patch: How do you inspire them?
Attaway: I inspire them by encouraging them and giving praise when it is appropriate. Each step up on the personal growth ladder can be painful but praise and encouragement helps them get to that next step.
Patch: How are you a “transformative leader”?
Attaway: I do not see myself as a “transformative leader.” Many might think that means a person who is passionate, enthusiastic and energetic. I have that within me, but I am more quiet than most and I don’t think that I have to be up front to lead. When I am, I do my best to give all of the credit away. After all, a leader needs to bring out the best in people and let them bask in the sun when they have accomplished their or their team’s goals. It is not about me; it is about others.