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Productivity • Operations • Management • Business Tips • 72 minutes

Nexgen’s Ismael Valdez is a man on a $100 million mission

December 8, 2020

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Episode Overview

“The next generation of contracting: I feel that in the next two to three years, it's going to be a bunch of young punks like me.”

—Ismael Valdez, CEO, NexGen Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing

Ismael Valdez, at age 32, is a man on a mission. And he’s in a hurry. The owner of Southern California-based Nexgen built his company into a $30 million empire in a short time—and he vows to keep hustling until he gets to the $100 million mark. Valdez talks about the importance of using data efficiently, believes the next generation of contractors will be young guns like him, and treasures the family he goes home to every night.

Here are Ismael Valdez’s top tips for service company owners that want to build their own kingdoms:

All of the tactics and tips from Toolbox for the Trades Season 2 in one PDF, download now!

Growing your company quickly takes a huge toll on your life.

Valdez grew his company from zero to $24 million in three years, and moved up to $30 million in the fourth year. 

“I compressed time,” he says. “Normally, that takes a 20- to 30-year period. Realize that while you grow fast you also get all the headaches and the customer complaints from what would have been 20 or 30 years compressed into four years.”

The next generation of contractors is going to be ‘young punks.’

Nexgen stands for “Next Generation,” and Valdez believes the future of the trades will belong to a younger generation. 

“It’s going to be a bunch of young punks like me, a bunch of hustlers trying to make money off this,” he says. “You can make a good living off this if you do it right and keep your mindset strong.”

These days, business is data. 

Valdez says 2019 was a down year for his company because he was negligent with his data.

“I learned this is not a hustle anymore,” he says. “You need to make educated decisions about everything. That’s why we came up with Data Cube to use with ServiceTitan data. We want to be able to display live KPIs so contractors can make educated decisions.”

Create a badass management team. 

Another reason 2019 was an off year for Nexgen was that Valdez was trying to do too much of the work himself. 

“I had a couple of managers helping me out, but that was it,” he says. “Now, I have a badass management team. I can have a two-hour conversation now, without my phone ringing a hundred times. I even have time to do podcasts now.”

The next generation of contractors is review-based. 

“My whole management team is a performance-based group based on (customer) reviews,” Valdez says. 

Why? “Because the review-based contractor is here,” he says. “It’s not referrals. You can only get so far in life on that. 

“Whether you want to grow profit or revenue, you want to start making educated decisions based on the actual information that you’re getting from your company. And pay attention to every major performance inside the company.”

Choose the right KPIs for your company. 

Valdez has benefitted from listening to mentors, and he’s more than happy to give advice to others starting out in the trades.

“But when you gather advice, realize that my KPIs might not be the same as yours,” he says. 

“You may have to modify the advice that you get. Or, you may need to completely disregard some guidance you get if you see it doesn’t fit into your company.”

Have the conversation where you solidify goals.

Make sure the path you are on is the one you want. 

“Have a personal conversation with yourself, your spouse, whoever it is,” Valdez says. “Decide if you want to grow—or not. I wanted to run a $10 million company that had 20 percent EBITDA. So, I had to find the right marketing mix, increase tickets and everything. 

“Find out what works for your goal and then start improving every single aspect of the business.”   

In-house inventory leads to efficiency. 

“We stock everything in-house,” Valdez says. “If I have 75 installers go to a warehouse where they’re picking up equipment, material, parts, and everything, I’m paying them hourly to sit there waiting for material and equipment. That adds up every single day—to thousands of dollars. It gets to hundreds of thousands of dollars in labor of people just waiting for parts.”

Do it for your family. 

Valdez credits his wife for giving him the drive he has and for making him the man he is today. 

“My wife is amazing,” he says, “and she gave me Andrea, Sophie, Victoria, and Camila. My daughters are the purest form of love. I go to work and grind for 10, 12, 14 hours and then I go home and feed off their energy. 

“They are why I want the $100 million process and am trying to innovate the industry.”

Recommended research

How to Go from 0 to $30M in Four Years hosted by ServiceTitan and Ismael Valdez

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Toolbox for the Trades is a podcast where top service professionals share the tips, tricks, and tactics they use to succeed in their industry. Hosted by Jackie Aubel, this podcast is brought to you by ServiceTitan—the leading home and commercial field service software.

Episodes will feature stories and strategies to help contractors grow and scale their service business.

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