After starting up a successful painting company in the Pacific Northwest, Kylon and Teliah Gienger applied new coats of business research to their operation and acquired a pair of trade companies.
They went from zero to 75 employees and $15 million in revenue in eight months.
Neither half of this entrepreneurial husband-and-wife team had specific technical knowledge related to Hurliman Heating and Air and Plumb-Tech Heating and Cooling.
They did, however, have a solid business plan that involved strategic hiring practices, being hands-on owners and knowing when to loosen the reins.
First, you need some kind of business experience, Kylon Gienger says, like being a manager or leader.
“If you have some of the financial acumen required to run up a business, that basic business knowledge is going to be immensely helpful for you,” he says.
Teliah Gienger says it’s important to use the first 12 months to determine who’s the best leader to come help run the business.
“To come in the first two months and be like, ‘Oh, I know exactly what this company needs,’ is pretty naive,” she says. “You need time to understand it, understand its quirks, and then figure out the right kind of person to come in and lead alongside you.”
The crucial aspect of trade takeovers is identifying, attracting, placing and developing the right people, Kylon says.
“At the core of any business, it's all about people,” he says. “And to the extent that you have world-class people in place and in the right seat, you can build a world-class business.”
Kylon notes that after a couple tries they found the right general manager for Plumb-Tech. And that allowed them to spend more time similarly setting up the right leadership at Hurliman.
“That’s really the key,” he says. “Building the systems and management and personnel structure, and continuing to systematically delegate. That allows you to keep ascending up the org chart, do more acquisitions and be able to focus on the right things.”
Kylon and Teliah Gienger, recently joined ServiceTitan’s Jackie Aubel as part of Season 7 of the “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast, which included the Giengers’ thoughts on:
(4:05) Lessons learned from multiple small business acquisitions
(15:11) Finding the right people for your entrepreneurial vision
(25:58) Advice for people considering a trades acquisition
(33:48) Insight from books like Traction and Entrepreneurial Operating System
(36:07) Advantages of a husband-wife business partnership
To hear more stories from the trades, subscribe to Toolbox for the Trades on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, our website, or anywhere you get podcasts.