CTN 406: How To Be Effective As A New Leader With Rob Allen

In Episode 406 of ControlTalk Now, we dive into the realm of leadership, focusing on how to excel as a new leader in your field.

We all face the challenge of being called to lead a team at some point in our careers, like Rob Allen, who expertly took on the role of COO at Stromquist & Company for my brother and me.

Join us as we uncover inspiring lessons from Rob’s story on how to effectively navigate the path of new leadership.

Thank you to this weeks sponsor Lynxspring.

 4 Leadership Skills for New Leaders to Master

Have you recently been promoted to a leadership role? If so, congratulations! Being a leader is no easy task and requires a multitude of skills. In this blog post, we’ll discuss four essential leadership skills that every new leader should understand and master in order to be successful. From creating a clear vision to harnessing the power of metaphor, these four skills will help ensure your success as a leader. Let’s dive in!

 Have A Clear Vision With A Bright Future

A strong leader needs to have an understanding of where they are going and how they plan on getting there. Having and communicating this vision with your team is critical for success. It gives them something to strive towards and aligns everyone in the same direction. Your vision should be aspirational but achievable—something that will inspire your team while still being realistic. After all, no one wants to work towards an impossible goal!

Frequent Interactions With The Team That Include Listening

Effective leaders don’t just talk at their teams—they listen too. It’s important to hold frequent meetings with your team members so that you can better understand their perspectives and learn from them. This will also give you insight into any challenges or problems they may have faced during the day-to-day operations of the business. By having these interactions with your team, you can make informed decisions about how best to move forward together as a unit.

Communicate The Negative Consequences Of Not Accomplishing The Vision

It’s not enough just to have a clear vision – it’s important that everyone on the team understands what might happen if they don’t achieve it as well. Be sure to explain the possible negative consequences of not accomplishing the vision so that everyone knows what’s at stake if they don’t do their part. This way, everyone will be motivated to work hard and do whatever it takes to ensure success for the entire team – not just themselves individually.

 Master The Use Of Metaphors To Inspire Others To Change And Grow

Metaphors are powerful tools that can help leaders communicate complex ideas in simple terms and inspire others to take action. By creating vivid images in people’s minds, metaphors can be used to get people excited about change and motivate them towards growth. They’re also great for helping people understand difficult concepts more easily—so don’t underestimate their power!

Becoming a successful leader isn’t easy – but it is possible with hard work and dedication! Remember these four essential leadership skills: having a clear vision with a bright future; frequent interactions with the team, including listening; communicating the negative consequences of not accomplishing the vision; and mastering the use of metaphors to inspire others s to change and grow. Use these strategies properly and you’ll soon be leading your team down the path of success!

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Show transcription:

Eric Stromquist 0:00  Welcome to Episode 406. For control talk now, where we discuss all things HVAC and smart building controls, including sales and marketing day we hit on a topic that makes or breaks every one of us leadership. At some point in time, all of us have gotten or will get the call to lead a group of people, it’s usually an established group, a group that has a list has had a leader before you. And this leader is either been promoted, in which case you’re being asked, at the very least, to keep the group successful. In other words, don’t screw it up. But more than likely, you’re being asked to not only not screw it up, but to make it better, or the leader before you has been asked to leave. And you’ve been brought in to fix the problems and get the train and the people back on track. The good news is you’ve probably gotten a promotion. The bad news is now you have to figure out how to lead a group of people who are probably not thrilled that you’re their new boss, and are certainly not happy about having to change. Nobody ever likes change. So your success is going to depend on these very people. Unless you can get buy in from them, you’re not going to be part of they’re not gonna be part of the solution, and you’re probably going to fail. So the question is, is there a playbook for this type of situation? The answer is yes. In fact, there’s several different ways to win a group over and become an effective leader. On this episode, we’re gonna give you some tools to become a better and more effective leader, and talking about being thrown into the fire. My guest this week is Rob Allen, my brother and I asked Rob to take over the day to day operations to Stromquist and company several years ago, not only was Rob asked to lead people that had been in the industry many more years than he had, he was also asked to lead people that have been at Stromquist and company much longer than he had. And on top of that, can you imagine the expectations and sense of responsibility my brother and I charged Rob with running the company our father had founded, and we’d run for several decades, before we turn the reins over to Rob wasn’t an easy situation for him. And he’s done great, as you’ll hear. And you also hear that Rob’s story is inspiring, and it’s inspiring, and that there’s much much much to learn about how Rob earned the respect of the other employees at Stromquist and company and created a culture that is taking Stromquist and company to a whole new level of great leadership is based on great leadership principles. Study Group, setting great leaders is the first step to becoming one yourself. There are four things that every great leader in history has done. First, they had communicated a clear vision of a future that was better than the way things were at that time. I call this brightness of future. This includes a bold vision, and the right challenge to make people want to follow you, John F. Kennedy did not tell Congress in 1961, the Soviets were kicking our butt, and we need to catch up with them and get ahead of them in the race to space. Instead, he said, We choose to go to the moon, and we will send an American to the moon and return them safely. By the end of the decade. This was a message it was the message in vision that the American people and his team needed to be the first country in the world to land a man on the moon, July 20 1969. Second, great leaders have a great frequency of interaction or high frequency of interaction with the people they lead. This includes making sure that everyone on the team understands the vision, their role and accomplishing the vision, and that they have everything they need to do to make sure they get their job done. Great Leaders Ask Great Questions. And they listen, they really listen to what the team tells them. As you will hear from Rob, that doesn’t mean that you always take someone’s on the team’s advice. It does mean you make sure that everyone on the team feels heard and appreciated. Good leaders always do these first two steps. But great leaders do one step further than that. They communicate something called darkness a future is basically is the vision the goal is not accomplished, they communicate the consequences of not succeeding. An example might be you could say to your team, our competition is taking more of our market share, because we’re not providing the best customer support, we can. And if we don’t up our game, and this trend continues, our sales could drop by as much as 5%, which might mean we have to cut costs which no one wants to do. But if we increase our customer support, our revenues will go up, which means that at the end of the year, we’ll probably all get bonuses. So that’s an example of using both the brightness of future and the darkness of future together. One way leaders especially, especially politicians play the darkness of future is by creating a common enemy. Julius Caesar persuaded the Senate in Rome to forego the Republic and all the freedoms that that implied to make him a dictator for life because he can This them, it was the only way to protect Rome from its fear and enemy, the galls. Finally, great leaders are masters of metaphors. A good metaphor can change the meaning of any situation. And it plays on paper the emotions of people, people very rarely will change based on logic, but they will go to war and fight to the death when they’re inspired by the right metaphor. For example, notice the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of these two statements, I’m going to get rid of the corruption in our government versus I’m going to drain the swamp drain the swamp was effective when Mussolini’s set it in the 1930s. And again, when Donald Trump said it, when he was running for president, the New Deal was a metaphor that Franklin Roosevelt used to inspire the Americans out of the Great Depression. I have a dream as a metaphor that Martin Luther King used to inspire millions, great leaders use great metaphors, who will them and use them have a great work, the great metaphor has worked in the past, it will work again. So start collecting great metaphors if you want to be a great leader. I remember years ago at Stromquist, and company, leadership was torn on whether or not we should bring in an outside consultant to work with us. We had debated for hours, we were divided and undecided. And I spent way too much time debating the subject. My brother, who’s a great leader, had not said a word, but then chimed in and said Well Do any of you even know what a consultant is? Anyway? That stopped us all. We all got curious. And when he responded, a consultant is someone who knows 100,000 different ways to make love to a woman but doesn’t know any woman. Well, that in that was ended that I’m not knocking consultants. We’ve used consultants since then, and we’ll use them in the future, but is a great example of how the right metaphor can change the meaning of a situation and in our case, freed up our gridlock and allowed us to move on. Okay, so brightness of future, frequency of interaction, darkness of future and mastering the metaphor. That’s what you need to focus on to become a great leader. And we have a new sponsor this week. So before we get to rob a quick word from this week’s sponsor, Lync spring, embracing open software and hardware platforms Lynx brain develops, manufactures, distributes and supports ed to enterprise solutions and IP technology to create smarter buildings, smarter equipment, and smarter applications. The company’s Genesis edge programmable IP controllers, for buildings, equipment, unitary plant Vav, and more is the industry’s first hardware portfolio. It ported the Niagra framework onto hardware other than a Jace, which includes a full Niagra stack built in expandable i o in multiple licensing options. When combined, Genesis edge devices enables Niagara IP, horizontal topology, and architecture. For more information about link spraying, go to www dot links Okay, thanks. Thanks for Thanks for supporting the show. And if you would like to be seen and heard by the global ControlTrends community, click on the link in the show notes and find out how you can sponsor a control doc now show to now it is my pleasure to introduce the CEO of Stromquist and company, Rob Allen. All right, I’ve got Rob Allen, the CEO of Stromquist, and company on as my guest this week, and Robin Roberts, my favorite distributor Stromquist and company out of Atlanta in Orlando. So Rob, man, thanks for taking some time to talk with us.

Rob Allen 8:43
Absolutely. So proud to be here. So proud to run your favorite distributor as well.

Eric Stromquist 8:48
You’re doing a great job with it. So for our viewers out there, sort of walk us through your journey.

Rob Allen 8:55
How I got the Stromquist. It’s funny. So I spent 10 years in a different industry with that nothing that I that I learned in 10 years from the business part of that place transitioned over here, it was totally different. And I wanted to make a career change. And I felt like the age I was that I could probably reinvent myself. I struggled with a overqualified under qualified scenario where I couldn’t make a lateral move into into a new industry and folks didn’t trust that I would come and reinvent myself and not just take a job and then hop the first chance that I got to get back to where I was. And so then we stumbled across Stromquist and there was a mutual mutual tie in and a recommendation made and I came in and interviewed with David and Eric on the infamous orange couch if you’ve been to Stromquist pre pre 2014 You know it was it was incredible, incredibly awesome time warp, wood paneling walls, orange and green couches. It was it was neat stuff. We We interviewed and I felt like it went really well. And David called me a few days later and, and said, I will, we’re going to offer you a job and it seemed kind of progressing, progressing, Lee that he was going to offer me this job. And I kind of couldn’t figure out why. And he gave me a number. And I said, Okay, well, that’s about 70% less than what I’m making right now. But that’s okay. Because I wanted to start over, this is what it was gonna be. And so I accepted that I think it was a day later and, and Eric, you called me, without trying to talk me at a taking the job, you sort of kind of talked me out of trying to take the job.

Eric Stromquist 10:32
Those of you who know me know that I’m notorious I’m really, really tough interview. And part of it is if you can’t endure my interview, if you can endure my interview, then I know you got what it takes to be in sales. And ultimately, we were grooming you for a sales position down the line. So I was giving you all the reasons I don’t think you’re right for the job. I don’t you know, you know, this is not for you, which I do with all anybody interviewing for sales, I tell them no, I give them all the reasons because I want to see how they’re gonna respond to that. And to your credit, you thought about it for a minute, he looked at me and said, Look, here’s the deal, how worked for you for 90 days, and then in 90 days, if it doesn’t work out, we’ll park company and good good. You no good stead at all be okay. But I’m going to tell you something, if you’ll give me a 90 day choice chance, I’m going to be the best employee you’ve ever, ever had. And part of the reason I want to highlight that is that got my attention to one thing, if you take the risk off the table, like you know, have leave 90 days, but someone else somebody is bold enough to say, I will be the best employee you’ve ever had. So with that, you know, we put you on and we started you at the bottom. I mean, I think you started out like all of us packing boxes that you moved from packing boxes to, you know, the counter to inside sales to outside sales. And one of the things I noticed about you Rob was whatever position you whatever we asked you to you did you did it you strive strive to do it better than anybody else. And most most of the time she did, but you were humble about the whole thing. Yeah, I don’t know what that was like for you. But we were I was watching you going, Man, this guy’s this guy’s got the stuff.

Rob Allen 12:04
It sounds like it’s hard and difficult. But the reality is that when it was funny, the first day I looked around, I’m like, Oh, this is about the size of my old office. This is pretty cool. But then, but then I realized there was about seven other people sitting in the office with me. So that was that was slightly humbling. And even back then, I mean, we were such a great company from the opportunities that we give people. And we’ll hire, or hire seasoned veterans and pop them right in and let them go. We’ll hire engineering graduates from from tech and different things. And then we’ll give, we’ll give somebody a shot off the street that doesn’t have much knowledge or experience at all, and, and pop them into the warehouse or customer service and let them see where they go. And that was that was obvious to me. When I when I first started working. And it was a it was a we knew that the customers what mattered first, and I wrap my head around that and you can’t guarantee outcome, you can only guarantee opportunity. There’s always opportunity at Stromquist. And that’s why I’m here. And that’s what I love it.

Eric Stromquist 13:09
I want to reiterate to our listeners out there, especially if you’re in a company and want to work your way up. Or even if you’re not in this industry and thinking about this is a great industry to come in with experience or no experience to get trained. And you can really progress very rapidly here. And again, you know Rob’s I think your attitude about whatever the job he asked me to do. I’ll do you were humble. And I think that is a quality as somebody that ran a company. I’m always looking for someone who’s willing to work hard. And it’s humble. You were coachable, who could coach you but at the same time, you also knew what you believed in and what you thought was right. I can’t tell you how many times and this is the way if you credit, tell your boss he’s full of bull Rob was great at it. Rob would say, Hey, Eric, I’ll do that if you want me to. But I think it’s a mistake. And here’s why. I think part of it is you have to be an asset to the leader in terms of telling them the truth, right?

Rob Allen 14:07
With what we do now. We put a huge emphasis on feedback. And every new hire, let them get get their, their feet wet for a few days. And when the first week, definitely not any longer than the second week, we talked about the importance of feedback. And we want to know what people are liking what they’re struggling with, what they want to learn.

Eric Stromquist 14:28
So, you know, Rob, you know, what made you the Chief Operating Officer? I mean, the first thing you’re doing, how do you create a new culture. So her audience do that? Because it’s kind of daunting, and it was for me when my dad retired and I took over. And you know, it’s just like people are used to doing things a certain way. How do you get them on the same page? How do you get it where they’ll let you lead them? Yeah, for

Rob Allen 14:47
sure. And, you know, I was always trying to coach young people and, and all people really is just make sure you’re always trying to do the right thing at the right time because you never know what an opportunity is going to present itself. And that’s sort of how it was for me it went from, okay, you’re not doing this, and now you’re gonna go do this. And, and, and I went did it. And it was interesting because I, like I said, I came into the industry, I didn’t know anything. And so, so many, so many of my co workers accredit with, with teaching me the industry and Eric and David, and then all of a sudden, it’s okay, the guy that I was just training two years ago, is now my boss. You know, that’s, that’s a little weird. And it was weird for for both of us, right. And we had to, we had to figure that out. But I knew that culture was important. I’d seen a scene where I still to this day, I think that the two most important things you need in the company are people in process. And I knew that when we started to try to implement some new things that we might lose some people. And that was scary, because Stromquist really doesn’t lose some people. That’s one of my fun, most fun things is to walk around and ask people when we have a guest, and how long have you been here, and when you’ve been here we get 10 years, 1525 3540 years. But what I what I did from day one, I created a creed in the Creed is feedback, binding, good purpose, the feedback part is we’re all doing our jobs all across the different company and making this big wheel turn. And especially me, I don’t necessarily know what the struggles of the people in the warehouse are, or always with the struggle of the people in, in type sales are struggling with. And we created a safe place for people to give feedback on what’s working, what isn’t working, I still stole something a borrowed something from, from Joe Chandler demands, wants and wishes, we coupled that along with issues and ideas. And that’s the that’s the core of, of our feedback mechanism. Where people can provide an issue of this isn’t working, I don’t really know what what to do to make it work. Or I have an idea this, this isn’t working, here’s my idea to fix it. And then demands wants, wishes to something a little bit separate, it’s a way to request request things that you might need within the company to be able to do your job better. That didn’t work very well, for about three years. Honestly, we had some people that did it really well. But a lot of people did it. But most recently, the last couple of years, feedback is really what we’ve gotten a lot of when people feel that they have a voice. And when they see that leadership or, or coworkers are reacting to the resolving the problems that they have, the people start to really buy into that. We want everybody to give a voice, we want everybody to give an opinion, we’re not a democracy, we’re not going to, you know, make whoever gets the most votes, this is what we’re going to do. The example I give is, if we’re going to ask what what we think we should paint the walls, everyone, you know, somebody’s gonna say hot pink, somebody’s gonna say blue, somebody’s gonna say gray. At the end of the day, we’re gonna make a decision based on all the input that we have, and what we know that makes the most sense. Buy into whatever that decision is. These days unanimously people are buying in because they feel like they had a voice. And the last thing is, is good purpose being Stromquist founded the company in 1951, Eric’s dad, David Stromquist. Dad, I was I was told by a lot of different people that being Stromquist always said, Speak with good purpose. And that’s to each other, to your suppliers to your customers. And to me, it’s very simple. And I said, there’s three things that are non negotiable feedback, fine, and good purpose. Everything else we can work out,

Eric Stromquist 18:02
but it took some time is what I hear you saying it took about three years to get the complete buy in. So your persistence paid off, right. I mean, you sort of stayed the course, even though you had have gotten discouraged, I’m guessing

Rob Allen 18:13
leading people is most people would probably say the most challenging thing that you do, right. I mean, Michael Bonner, who’s worked so hard to weeks before me, were Frick and Frack. And he always says, You got multiple piles, and you got to push all those piles at the same time. Another thing that we liked, and spent a lot of time on personality profiles, you say that and I think some people go whoa, wait a minute, a personality tests like, this seemed uncomfortable. But I started messing with that back in in 2016. And I think it’s one of the neatest things that you can do is start to understand how we’re all wired different. We’re all hardwired to be a different thing. And no matter how much you try, no matter what you do, you can improve on what you’re how you’re hardwired. But you’re always that way.

Eric Stromquist 18:58
Right? Well, can you give us a Can you give us an example of how you understanding their personality, we’re able to get them on the same page with you.

Rob Allen 19:05
I have a very successful outside salesperson who has an S T. And typically, STS don’t do great. And outside sales. And, and this person had a million questions. If you didn’t have a million questions, you had 10 million questions. It was just questions, questions, questions, questions. And I’ve always said sales is, is an art. It’s not a science. You know what worked this time? What got your message across to the customer this this time, you could say exactly the same thing to the next person. It’s probably not going to work, right. But the light bulb went off because after after this person got his million in one, one question answered. He felt comfortable, and he felt like he had a way to be able to have a full understanding of what was asked of him and thrive to this day, and customers love them.

Eric Stromquist 19:50
Rob, I think probably one of the biggest assets that somebody can have and I think it’s been obviously true in your case is understanding that people were wired differently. Just because somebody doesn’t get it or see things the way you do, it doesn’t mean they can’t be a valuable part of your team. If somebody’s not getting it that’s on me if they’re not doing what you need them to do, maybe I’m not communicating this in a way that they clearly understand how can I shift how I’m communicating it? So I think you got to do that first to give them a chance, right?

Rob Allen 20:19
Yeah, absolutely. It’s, I’ve always said, the easiest, easiest person in the room to improve upon is yourself.

Eric Stromquist 20:25
What do you do, if you can’t get somebody to buy into the culture, you do

Rob Allen 20:28
have to understand that putting myself that no person is bigger than the company, no person is bigger than the culture, right? Just recently, we’ve, we lost a person and asked the person to leave. And it was tough. And it really bothered me, I think it bothered some people. But gosh, she looked back and you, you can you can see it before and after. And you don’t realize the impact sometimes that people have on other people, that sometimes it’s just not a culture fit, it doesn’t mean that we’re a good or a bad company, or you’re a good or a bad person. It’s just, it’s just not a fit.

Eric Stromquist 21:04
Part of the job. As a leader, as you got to protect the culture at all costs, you give everybody a chance to play sort of eliminate any other possibility they didn’t understand, or they needed time to adapt to the culture, but at a certain point in time as a leader if you’ve got to protect the culture,

Rob Allen 21:17
right? Absolutely. We got to think about everybody, but being transparent and understanding what’s what’s our purpose as a company, and letting people know that there are different personality types, but we all blend because we all, you know, share something in common with each other. But it’s been really neat. One of the coolest things I learned, I kept, kept reading different things. And it talks about humility is one of the one of the core things of a good leader and a good person is being humble. I’ve never thought of myself as not humble. I’ve never thought of myself as arrogant, or anything there. But I struggled with that as I needed want to be more humble. And I messed it up. I mean, for six months, a year, 18 months, I was walking around self deprecating humor, I’m being humble writer, I don’t know guys, I’m, you know, I’m not whatever, and I and it just felt so awkward about like, it’s gonna feel awkward. That’s just what that’s that’s when you’re trying to learn something new. And the gift of hindsight kicked in. In an instant, when I was I was driving to see to see a customer of one of our sales guys, you sort of knew and I hadn’t really been out in the road and, and sold in a while this is just when we’re coming out of COVID, none of us were really doing much of anything during COVID, we roll into the first place and I’m there to support the salesperson. And the first question was answered. He was a little new and he didn’t didn’t know the answer. So I gave the answer. And then this, this pattern continues, where all of a sudden, I’m sitting there trying to remember all the different things about product and different things that we do. And, um, we and we get in the car, and person pays me a compliment and says, Wow, I just I hope that one day, you know, I can be as confident and I can be good like that as well to maybe be humble. And I think that at some point, a lot of this by default go Yeah, it was a lot of a lot of experience and all this, whatever, you’ll be like me one day too. And I said, you know, honestly, I was terrified. I was I was actually terrified. I said, I felt like one more, one more question. I wasn’t gonna have the answer when we were going to be exposed. But we push through and think, Gosh, that didn’t happen. And you can see almost 20 pounds just lifted off that person’s shoulder. And at the same time, 20 pounds lifted off to me. And that’s when I finally got it like sharing vulnerability. Being humble saying I don’t I don’t always have it figured out. I don’t always know the answer. I’ll never forget that that day because that’s when it clicked. That’s what that’s what humility is humility is going I don’t have the answer. We’re in this together. And it lets people know that that you can you can work toward things and not having the answers. Okay. And, and being wrong is okay.

Eric Stromquist 24:04
It’s a great story, right? That’s a really, really great story. Yeah, because I think all of us have an idea what being humble is, I think you just gave a great definition. Not pretending if you weren’t terrified, or it was hard or whatever. And and also, I think one of the really great things you do when you’re humble is when somebody pays you a compliment or genuine compliment you you you’re humble enough to just say thank you. Really letting the compliment in is a form of humility to write because it gives the other person the power to compliment you and you’re not sloughing it off. I kind of wanted to cycle back around a minute sort of sum up you know, three of the things that I heard you say about a leader and then and then we want to go on so to me and you know, we spent some time with the same teacher Marshall Thurber, and you know, you talked earlier about your process right and Marshall had this thing called fair process which basically is is a leader you everybody has the right to voice their opinion. Okay, but it’s not a democracy. Okay, but I’ll listen to what you have to say I’ll try it on. And then we’re going to then the leader ultimately how To decide what’s best for the company, right, the leader has to decide. So that’s one of it. One aspect of it the other aspect, which you’ve described, and I want to put it in words, and see if you agree with this. Marshall used to draw a big fruit bowl, and he had all these pieces of fruit in it, he said, The leader is the one that holds the context, the culture, the context, right. So the leaders job is to make sure that all the fruits can do, that’s probably a bad analogy can do what they need to do, right. And doing what they do also comes down with the probably the most important thing a leader does, which is create the vision, create the vision, then communicate the vision and hold the context, protect the culture, empower people to execute on the vision and protect the culture. So we’ve we’ve kind of hit on everything except for the vision Park, talk to me about where do you get your visions for where you want to take the company?

Rob Allen 25:51
It’s interesting, right? Because we, we all felt pretty, pretty good, in 2019, about where we were going and where the industry was taking us and what we what we needed to do, and then all that got turned on its head in early 2020. And for a lot of folks, their their vision and their purpose and, and their, their direction, and strategies changed nearly overnight. And for some folks, it was let’s just let’s just try to keep hold and other other folks were taking advantage of the situations, we we really took the opportunity to take a look. And we decided early on. I’m so appreciative of David and Eric, but we’d set early on and we’re gonna do everything we possibly can not to do any layoffs or any furloughs throughout this whole COVID thing. And we did it. And I’m super, I got chills thinking about that. Because it was tough. We had some tough conversations there. The three of us trying to figure out how we’re going to keep past that. And in our in our folks don’t know that. And I think that’s good. It was it was it was neat to come on the other end of that. But what we decided to do, our leadership team is we decided to take the quote unquote, downtime, and get ourselves scalable. And we wanted to put ourselves in a position that whatever was thrown away and other global pandemic, or an industry shift or anything that happened, like we wanted to be able to be ready for whatever was thrown our way. And so we started to think about, well, what what does that look like. And as we know, our admins can come right back to the people thing. But we were so lucky in being in business for long as we have we’ve had all those customers with a long tenure here. But we we saw a new generation of workers coming into the industry and they wanted something different. And they weren’t okay with being an inside salesperson for 35 or 40 years, they weren’t okay with being 10 years in this and 30 years and outside sales, they needed something different. And so we sat down and we we created a whole new onboarding system. And we created a lot of you are an inside sales, you were customer service, you were technical sales, your technical support, and we provide a tracking path, we saw that a lot of people came in and really, really appreciated that. And we put a big emphasis on promotions and a clear path to how you get a promotion and what’s involved. We had everybody sit down and, and put together growth initiatives we’re in the south. So our growth initiatives are called grits, we just had to shorten that up. So everybody has grits. It’s something that that they want to do to focus on making the company better themselves better, or better yet, you know, all of those things, they gave everybody a path and a purpose. And now we we can onboard customer service people by two weeks in a day. They’re they’re working. They’re working email quotes, and in orders and processing stuff. And then from there, it takes on a whole new level, we are almost onboarding for three years, to get folks that come in with no industry experience, and maybe no work experience, and can build themselves a rewarding career. And that’s one of the things that we do is we want to be easy to do business with and we want to we want all of our employees to be able to build a rewarding career

Eric Stromquist 29:11
when you’re talking to a customer is the leader of Stromquist and company. And they say well, what can we expect? If we do business with Stromquist? And company? What do you tell him?

Rob Allen 29:21
Tell him that we want we want to be easy to do business with. We all want to be your single source, we provide a value of value package. And our sales guys are really great about sitting down understanding what what is important to you. We try to never say no, we try to never say no, we try to make it where it makes sense. And you can call us and sure we’ll source this for you. We’ll source that for you. We will have this in stock for you. If we see that you’re gonna buy it a lot more will stock more of it so it’s ready to go and will support it will train your folks on it as well too. So if you can come in to Stromquist and B find a place it’s a one stop shop and you build it true partner in the industry that the key words one of my other favorite words, partnership, how do we partner? How do you want to play. And I’ve got a lot of customers, a lot of a lot of customers, a lot of companies that they get with us and and we grow together. And we get better together because they present new problems, and we provide new solutions

Eric Stromquist 30:20
always have what had been taught. And that’s what your exemplifying now is we take really good care of our people, we take really good care of our customers. And it’s about integrity versus I like to tell the world for the long haul, you know, if I can’t do business with you today, at some point down the line, we will, but we’re not going to compromise our quality. And what we’re providing

Rob Allen 30:38
on one of our one of our company values is when when customer service. That was funny, my previous industry was was low price was king, and first week on the phones and inside sales, and I heard someone say, Well, I can sell you this one. It’s a little less expensive, and it does the same thing. And I couldn’t I couldn’t believe it. I was hearing Wait a minute we’re selling we’re, we’re not charging the most that we possibly can. And then you quickly realize that yeah, this is this is the long game, right? This is this is about creating partnerships. And and in partnerships. Both both sides can win win. And, and for both sides of the win win. It might not always be ideal for for the other. But in the grand scheme of things it’s in at the end of the day, decade long partnerships and 3040 50 year partnerships that we’ve been lucky to have here. i Our best partner will always say that yeah, we we win Stromquist wins. And we went to

Eric Stromquist 31:35
all great leaders, one of things I admire about you, as you’re constantly growing, you’re constantly challenging yourself, you’re reading all the time. For our listeners out there, give us two or three book recommendations and tell us why you would recommend they read them

Rob Allen 31:47
culture code is a good one. The Daniel Daniel Coyle, and he does a book called Talent Code two, it’s about learning but culture code is is really needed. He talks about three things. It’s sharing vulnerability, it’s building safety, and it’s establishing purpose.

Eric Stromquist 32:03
Rob, how do people get ahold of Stromquist company if they want to buy stuff so they can help finance my studio here?

Rob Allen 32:11 and we can get you with an outside salesperson inside salesperson. We can get you in contact with me. But man, thanks

Eric Stromquist 32:21
so much, Sam for taking time to be with us, Rob. Really appreciate it. Hey, man, you’re doing a great job. Keep it up, man. My wife and my youngest kids, appreciate all you’re doing for us.

Rob Allen 32:31
Thank you so much. And man, I appreciate it. And I love the company that your dad started you guys built and it’s just, it’s great. I pinch myself every day. I’m a lucky guy.

Eric Stromquist 32:41
Okay, that’s another week on control talk now. Thanks for tuning in. And we’ll see you next week. Until then remember, be bold, stay in control. stay relevant on some of the lead ahead. Remember 100 laptops always used to say “buy the ticket, take the ride.”


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