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LEADING QUESTIONS: Telamon CEO adopts unorthodox style

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Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” where IBJ sits down with one of central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about their industry and the habits that lead to success.

Albert Chen , founder and CEO of Telamon Corp., has based his career on a penchant for taking big risks and embracing trial and error. The native of Taiwan arrived in the U.S. in 1968 at the age of 25 with the simple goal of finding a job as an accountant. When that search was fruitless, he enrolled at Portland State College for graduate studies with no scholarship and a tenuous grasp of the English language. He eventually won a full ride, talked his way into an on-campus accounting job, and switched his focus from an MBA to mathematics. Adjusting on the fly, it turned out, would be his specialty.

After more than a decade with GTE, Chen founded Telamon in 1985. The firm's initial focus was developing and selling phone systems. It since has branched into a wide variety of products and services in several industries, including telecommunications, medical billing, logistics and supply-chain management. For 2009, Telamon reported revenue of $368 million and a workforce of 475 employees.

In the video below, Chen discusses elements of his somewhat unorthodox management style, as well as lessons learned from early blunders. He also explains why he admires Warren Buffett (not for the reason one might think) and how well he fits the "Year of the Horse" traits outlined in the Chinese zodiac.

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

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  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

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