Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
A. Just Call Lela is a husband-and-wife team which provides plumbing, heating, air conditioning and water filtration service and installation. We are located in southern California and have been servicing the Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino areas for over 30 years. We also go under the names of Complete Plumbing Heating and Air Inc. and Aqualistic Water Products.
Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
A. Shortly after high school and moving from Iowa to California co-founder and CEO Mike Jungers worked several odd jobs to make a living, with marriage and a family soon to follow I knew that I needed something more stable to provide for my family. I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do for the rest of my life when my soon to be wife Lela suggested plumbing. I was working a 4–10-hour day work week for a punch press manufacture in Cerritos when I decided to enroll in Associated Technical College in Anaheim and go to plumbing school at night. Soon after starting school a relative was moving out of their house and my now wife Lela and I were helping them. It was then I was introduced to the new owner who was moving in. Amazingly he was the owner of a plumbing company and needed some extra help on Friday and Saturday and was willing to train. I took the offer and started my apprenticeship. After graduating from Associated technical College with a perfect attendance record and straight A’s I quit my job in Cerritos and started working full time with my new company. It was very hard at first- there was a lot to learn as well as many long hard days digging and crawling in attics and under houses. After a few years my knowledge increased, and the work seemed to get easier. The company who gave me my start had financial difficulties and closed its doors. I found a job with a larger company as a journeyman plumber working solo in my own truck and running jobs myself. After about 10 years in the trade I decided to learn another closely related home service trade HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). I then went back to school utilizing a free government program called Regional Occupational Programing (ROP) located in Fullerton. With a perfect attendance and a straight A report card I was off to learn another trade. I found this new trade very challenging because of the various aspects of the trade. You have to know electrical currents, amp draw, control systems and air flow static pressures and duct design. Just like anything time is a great teacher and the challenges got easier. One of the tasks we performed a lot was the installation and repair of tankless water heaters, it was easy for us as a company because it was fairly closely related to HVAC in the troubleshooting and diagnostic and closely related to plumbing because it was a water heater. One thing we began to notice with tankless water heaters is the alarming failure rate due to hard water minerals, this is what led us to start our water filtration division called Aqualistic water products!
Q. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
A. After working for 15 years for larger companies I gained a significant following of customers that requested me to work on their home. Because I was giving the estimate, doing the work, collecting the money why don’t I do it for myself and go into business, little did I know that just because you are a great technician doesn’t mean you a automatically a great businessman. Business is a whole different animal. Thankfully with a great business partner (my wife) willing to go through the ups and downs of business with me, we were able to grow a successful company that has supported us through the years.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
1) Most importantly you MUST be good at business. In fact it is more important than knowing any trade. You can hire tradesman but it is much harder to find good business people to run a company.
2) Know your numbers! You don’t have to be an accountant but you must know how to understand a P&L statement and balance sheet as well as understand KPI’s (key performance indicators). Without understanding these it will be hard to be profitable.
3) Learn and understand marketing. You must know what you are talking about when it comes to marketing and how to utilize it to your advantage or you can sink fast.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
1) Willingness to learn; whatever is needed for your business you must be available to seek out and find the answers. ALWAYS BE LEARNING!
2) Don’t try to do everything BECAUSE YOU CAN’T! Do that which only you can do, are good at or like doing, hire or outsource the rest.
3) Be willing to put in the work. I have not heard of anyone that everything just fell into place for them. Most entrepreneurs work very hard and a lot of hours.
Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
A. On average about 12 hours per day, but my mind never stops thinking about the business or my own self improvement.
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
A. A great wife and partner without her I wouldn’t have made it!
Q. How do you go about marketing your business?
A. In the beginning all our business came from work of mouth which kept us going for many years. The problem is as you get older or your work load increases you cannot do all the work by yourself you have to start marketing you products or services. I love technology and looked to the internet and the digital platforms as well as referral sites.
Q. What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A. Referral sites like Yelp, Google and local sites.
Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
A. We grew our company organically and are debt free. We used the profits from the company to reinvest in ourselves.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A. Always be learning! Always be reading books, listening to podcasts from other people that have already made the mistakes. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Reinvest in your business and your personal growth.
Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A. Because we have been doing this for the last 30 years it is my long term goal to scale my business to be profitable to the point of selling it and retiring.
Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A. I would have to say another Southern California Heating and Air Conditioning company by the name of Service Champions owned by a man named Leland Smith. In my beginnings I worked for Leland when he owned a company called Allied Heating and Air. He grew that company and sold it for a good profit. After the no compete clause had expired, he started Service Champions. His new company is soaring to heights never seen in our industry (I believe he will be the first to hit 1 billion in annual revenue). He did not do this overnight; it took him many years of hard work, but he really has a strong-process driven company that I believe will be successful for many years to come.
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
A. It is essential to surround yourself with good people and have them in the right “seats” in your company.
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A. It really just depends on the idea; if it is marketing you have to let it go for a little while to see the response. If it is a business venture or branch off the original business, it will be much quicker. Knowing your KPI’s is very important.
Q. What motivates you?
A. Seeing something that you have created be successful. Helping other people be successful and support their families and lifestyles.
Q. What are your ideals?
A. Morally, living a life as unto the Lord God. Taking care of my family’s needs by providing for them monetarily and emotionally.
Business wise, having a business that has processes and procedures in place to run smoothly without me in the daily operations
Q. How do you generate new ideas?
A. Reading books, listening to podcasts and YouTube videos on business.
Q. How do you define success?
A. Achieving a level of self-sufficiency without having to work.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
A. Providing unparalleled service, always being available to help, honesty and integrity.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A. Making all the decisions and not having to depend on someone or some company to provide for my family and myself.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A. Reading the reviews of satisfied customers and helping people through their issues.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
A. Entrepreneurs see the big picture and are willing to go above and beyond the norm to achieve success.
Working for someone else you are more likely to be task oriented and are good with trading your time and talent for a steady paycheck.
Q. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
A. Honesty and integrity is the culture of our company. Everybody knows to ALWAYS do the right thing. Hopefully I have lead by example and it is reflected in my employees.
Q. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
A. I would have started with marketing and business administration. With those 2 things you can run any company.
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A. My wife and I have a unique relationship, we not only work together all day but enjoy being together after work also. You just have to learn to turn work off sometimes.
Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
A. My greatest fear is one day everything imploding and losing it all. I always have to remind myself that it is not my business but the Lords, I just have to be a good steward with what He gave me and do my best always.
Q. How did you decide on the location for your business?
A. I love California and the weather. Growing up in a small town in the Midwest provided little opportunity.
Q. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
A. Absolutely! Developing great systems and procedures and sticking to them. DO NOT have too many irons in the fire, pick one or two and stick with them.
Q. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
A. Jesus the Christ- need I say more?
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A. My wife Lela, she keeps me in check and is not afraid to tell me when I go off course or get crazy ideas. She also builds me up when I am down with her positive attitude and always seeing the glass half full. It is easy to get discouraged in the journey, everyone needs someone like her.
Q. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
https://www.facebook.com/CompletePHACA/A. For life it is the Bible as it is a book of wisdom.
For business there are a lot of great ones but the one that got me thinking was the E Myth
Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
A. Not starting my business sooner in my life.
Q. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
A. You will never prevent mistakes as they will happen to everyone. Damage control is having the stick-to-itiveness to fix it by always doing the right thing.
Q. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
A. HOBBIES: baseball card collection, riding my Indian motorcycle
NON WORK TIME- relaxing with my family
Q. What makes you happy?
A. Money in the bank, things are going well, no problems, good health ( not necessarily in that order)
Q. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. Long days of work, missing my family growing up.
Q. If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
A. Is there a “Magic Bullet” in business? Or is it a cumulation of many things, ideas or trial and error?