Start every day by asking yourself, ‘What am I going to do today to improve the business or product/service that I’m selling?’ If you are not happy with yesterday, ask yourself, ‘What can I do today to be more successful?’
Clayton Preble is the founder and president of GenSpring Power, Inc., a company formed in 2002 that specializes in home standby generator systems for residential customers. Based out of Georgia, the company prides itself on selling quality products to its customers. Prior to forming GenSpring Power, Clayton spent more than 30 years in the natural gas industry. He is a master service technician, the highest service level of expertise certified by Briggs and Stratton.
What are you working on right now?
I’m developing a new referral program for electricians whom we’ve worked with in the past. This involves a co-branded home standby generator brochure, with emphasis on the electricians and the benefits of our expertise. We are also launching a similar program for Rheem HVAC dealers in northern Georgia to complement our distributorship of Rheem Home Standby Generators.
Where did the idea for GenSpring Power come from?
I have always been interested in people’s ability to generate their own power. So after I retired from my first career in the natural gas industry, I decided to start my own home standby generator business. The name GenSpring Power is a spinoff from my earlier career: “Gen” is for generator, “Spring” is for source, and “Power,” of course, speaks for itself.
What does your typical day look like?
We use a decentralized dispatch business model, so everyone’s day is planned in advance. This leaves me time to start each day by thinking about the business, following up on prospects, making sales calls, etc.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I read a lot and study the industry. When I have an idea, I do research, talk with my son, Glenn, about it, create an outline of the pros and cons, and consider how it fits with our business model. Then, if we (Glenn and I) believe it works, we implement it.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
New technology excites me. We like technology and use it to our fullest advantage where it makes sense. The iPad has allowed us to automate our service records and streamline reporting of completed service work. Technology is also changing the standby generator industry. Just a few years ago, customers’ options were limited to buying larger generators as their requirements increased. Today, we can use power management to temporarily shed selected high-wattage appliances to allow high-priority appliances to start and run. Power management technology allows us to manage loads, thereby lowering the cost of generator systems for our customers. A smaller, smarter generator system costs less up front, takes up less space at the customer’s home, and costs less to operate and maintain.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
In my previous career, I worked for a person whose values did not match my own. As a result, it was a very uncomfortable position. The lesson I learned was to always stand up for what you believe in, and never sacrifice your values.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Well, it’s the chicken-and-the-egg story. In terms of growing the business, I would have liked to have implemented a home standby generator referral program early on, but the ability to successfully implement something like that is a function of reputation and experience. We have reached that point, and I believe that this is the time to leverage our expertise and carry the business to the next level.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Start every day by asking yourself, “What am I going to do today to improve the business or product/service that I’m selling?” If you are not happy with yesterday, ask yourself, “What can I do today to be more successful?”
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Never be satisfied with the status quo. If you constantly innovate, you stay on top and will not be left behind.
Tell us a secret.
I love to work.
What are your three favorite online tools and what do you love about them?
I think of tools as resources, and I have two I use regularly. I use Zite, the web-based information service, to help me catalog the types of information I am interested in. Also, I use Instapaper to store articles for reading and future reference.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One Second After by William Forstchen is a good read. It helps you understand how fragile our way of life is, and to consider the steps you need to take to prepare yourself and your family for future events.
What’s on your playlist?
I don’t have one!
If you weren’t working on GenSpring Power, what would you be doing?
Work is my hobby, so I am always thinking and working on something. I am a volunteer support firefighter and medical first responder, and I serve on several community organizations.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
I’m not a Twitter guy—yet.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh out loud every day. I have many friends, and we enjoy needling each other.
Who is your hero?
My dad is my hero. He was hard-working, loyal and dedicated to his family and his values. He was just a great guy.
How do you know which standby generator is best for a client’s needs?
It depends on what the client wants to accomplish. Our 10+ years in the industry have enabled us to identify the brands and technology that offer both the best reliability and performance. If our client’s goal is just to take care of the essentials, then we have a small generator solution for critical circuits. If a client is willing to let us manage loads, allowing him or her to have a somewhat larger system that’s still reasonable in cost, then we have a solution that uses the latest technology to seamlessly manage larger loads. Clients can have the power they want, just not all at the same time. Finally, if a client want everything when he or she wants it, without hesitation, then we have a great home standby generator solution for that as well.
What drives you to want to do this when you could retire and sit back, doing nothing?
It’s in my blood. My grandfather used to say, “If you sit in the rocking chair too long, one day, you won’t be able to get out.” If you go about it the right way, work is fun, stimulating, rewarding and very satisfying. It gives me another reason to get up and get going every day.