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.
Ans: TemperaturePro is a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) sales and service franchise located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Our franchise territory covers areas from Springfield to Fredericksburg; and Woodbridge to Manassas and includes parts of Fairfax County.
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).
Ans: I graduated from University of Nebraska with a BS in Business Administration and received my Commission as a Naval Officer in 1978. I served 8 and years on active duty as a Surface Warfare Officer aboard Destroyers and Mine Sweepers. I received a MS in Information Systems at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey CA before joining the US Naval Reserves. I retired in the Reserves as Navy Commander. After leaving active duty, I was hired by KPMG, a tax, audit, and consulting firm, in Panama City FL in 1987 providing program management consulting services for U.S. Navy clients to include Shipbuilding and Special Warfare programs. In 1993, I transferred to King George VA where I began leading a 40 million dollar contract with the Naval Surface Warfare Center. In 1997, I was the Program Manager for a KPMG multi-million dollar IT contract for NASA. In the same year, I was promoted to Principal. In 2000, KPMG’s Consulting Practice went public and became BearingPoint. In 2005, I was named the Program Manager for BearingPoint $176 million contract to design and implement the NAVY ERP Program delivered on time and within budget. In 2009, Deloitte purchased the federal BearingPoint practice and was a direct admit to Principal with Deloitte Consulting heading up the Naval Aviation Systems Command client account in Patuxent Maryland. I retired from Deloitte in 2015. I married my high school sweetheart in 1979 and we had two daughters. Today, both daughters are happily married and we have 4 grandchildren.
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?
Ans: I wasn’t content to be retired when I retired from Deloitte and wanted to do something completely different than the type of work I had done for last 30 years so I started searching. I ran into a franchise recruiting and after many discussions I narrowed my search to four businesses and eventually settled on TemperaturePro.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans: Don’t expect for anything to happen fast. Hiring the right people is critical and usually takes longer than you think. Start working on licensing early as well. The State of Virginia is very slow (3 months for us). Make sure you have enough working capital upfront to cover your costs for at least a year and half. It usually takes longer to start making a profit than you think so add a reserve.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: Hiring the right people is key. That means you need to understand the type of managers you want to hire. You need to be able to manage expenses and jungle working capital to meet costs and expenses.
Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: I used to work 40 to 50 hours a week while I was in start-up but after hiring my General Manager and Office Administrator I find I don’t need to
work that many hours anymore.
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: I’ve always said the people that worked for me deserved most of the credit for my success regardless of their position. Because of that, I place a great deal of importance on treating my employees well. I mentored and train when needed but let them do their job and cheer them on when they know what they need to do to succeed.
Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: We used online services, social media, realtor and property manager referrals, and radio.
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?
Ans: I used my 401K and IRAs to fund the majority and obtained a small business loan for the rest.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: The quality of service will determine how long you stay in business. It’s hard to sustain good business with poor quality work. On the other hand, quality work means repeat business – make it a priority.
Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: I hope to work this business for 10 years then consider selling the business ideally to my employees.
Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: US Military. Our servicemen do so much for so little in return.
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: As pointed out in my previous answers, hiring the right people is critical. It defines your business as they are the face of your business and they set bar of service quality. Quality of work determines how successful you are,
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: Very dependent on what the idea is – long term ideas and goals I stick to for a long time.
Q. What motivates you?
Ans: Hearing my clients praise the work our company does for them.
Q. What are your ideals?
Ans: I want to treat our customers the way I want to be treated.
Q. How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: Getting together with all employees regardless of their position and kicking ideas around has worked for me for over 30 years and it’s usually the youngest employees that come up with the best ideas so I encourage everyone to participate.
Q. How do you define success?
Ans: If our customers are happy; our employees are happy; and my pocket book is happy – that’s success.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: As mentioned earlier, the quality of service will determine how long you stay in business. It’s hard to sustain good business with poor quality work. On the other hand, quality work means repeat business – make it a priority.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: Knowing that I have started my own business in a service area I have never worked in.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: Hiring the first five team of employees.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: When I was a Partner with KPMG, BearingPoint, and Deloitte I always felt like an owner of my business so in that respect it’s not much different. You are responsible for the overall success of your business or business practice. Working for someone else you probably don’t have the overall burden.
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?
Ans: When I hire the people that work on our team, I want to know they are team players, ethical, and strive to provide quality service. It’s starts with my General Manager and includes every employee after. I want them to enjoy coming to work.
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?
Ans: Probably nothing much different.
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: At times a little stressful but for the most part no real impact
Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans: Going out of business – I try and stay ahead of it and trust my instincts and my past success record.
Q. How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans: Highly populated area and the place I live.
Q. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: I don’t think the formula is the same but there some basics: great employees; sufficient working capital; quality work; and treat your employees right.
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