Research everything, ask a lot of questions, always look to improve processes or procedures.
Entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer Alex Fortunati has built a national facilities maintenance corporation empire. He migrated to America thirty-five years ago unsure of what the future would hold. His career began working for a transportation company. That was not the destiny he had in mind. He learned all that he could and in 1996 he took command of his future and launched what would become the first step of his multinational corporation. This entrepreneur serves over four thousand locations every day across all fifty states. They manage over seven thousand locations with a total of more than 50 million square feet.
Alex Fortunati has built the business with integrity and a commitment to researching and sourcing environmentally friendly products for customers. According to Fortunati, “There are plenty of natural products and methods available that will keep a facility clean and fresh-smelling without any toxic side effects.”
It is in Alex Fortunati’s nature to always strive to improve himself. At age forty, he graduated from Pepperdine University with a double Master’s in Business Administration as well as the Presidents and Key Executives MBA in 2006. He has been married for forty years and has four children and four grandchildren.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
The initial idea to go into facilities management came when I was working for a transportation company. It was out of necessity that I was let go. But I learned a lot from the company and decided to open my own transportation business. I have several companies now. I learned to become successful through trial and error. I was very young then, the more error I made the more I learned how to become a true entrepreneur.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start my day at five. I am at the office by seven. My days are filled with meetings, phone calls, answering emails researching, planning, visiting my locations of operations, and meeting with clients. I usually leave between six and seven, but I am accessible by phone 24/7.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I read at least fifty books a year as well as reading industry and trade magazines. I want to know everything new in the industry. I research everything. I ask a lot of questions. I am always looking to improve processes or procedures.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that excites me is usually one that benefits the environment, water, air, soil, or any trend that improves the impact of the building industry on the environment. There are many new and efficient solutions available, many more than in the past. That is what excites me.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
When I was younger, I was in track and field. As a runner, you compete against the clock for your best time. I am trained to strive to better my performance. I do the same as an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself to have more harmony and balance between business and personal life. It is difficult to achieve. Running a business is a 24 hour a day job. That is why balance is so difficult to achieve.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Most people think that I am an extrovert because I can easily speak with people at all levels. I know a lot of people. However, there is a part of me that is very introverted. Most people would find that impossible to believe.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I would recommend for people to find a formula for work along with two or three other ideas related to the business. Make sure that your staff are motivated. Make sure they understand your vision and that everyone is on the same page. Provide enough clarity to your staff so that everyone understands that it is imperative that people live the sacred rule. That is to serve their customers above all else. It is a critical value of the business to be worked, understood, and embraced. We provide a positive impact on our staff so that they know and understand that they are the motor and the fuel for success.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The biggest marketing strategies I use that has been extremely successful is having good communication skills. I do networking in many different ways. I have found five channels that have allowed me to build true, multiple relationships. The more you master relationships and networking the more you can grow. The way to meet the right people is through business and industry to build professional relationships. Another avenue is through non-profit charity organizations where you can attend their events. Another way is to become a board member. You will meet people who are connected to other businesspeople.
The political arena is another good source. There are political events and fundraisers. It is a good avenue to build relationships and meet influencers. Last is the University. Pepperdine University has a large alumni list. They have events throughout the year as well.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Most entrepreneurs have a positive but know-it-all attitude. We think very fast, but we’re not good listeners. That is one area where most entrepreneurs should look to improve.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One thought I would recommend is to look at the main trends in their desired field. Think of where you can fill in the blanks for either a product or a service or improve or innovate. It is the thought process to develop a potential idea. Find the missing piece of the business you would love to do and fulfill the need.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I purchased four books. I was looking to find motivational books. Two of the books were business books and two books were on the spiritual side of life. They teach balance and harmony and how to reduce stress.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I function very well with Outlook. It manages my calendar and synchronizes with my computer. Outlook assists me with everyday business management.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The one book I would recommend is From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim Grover. He has been a coach to basketball players. It is a process of dignity and total focus. The book provides techniques.
What is your favorite quote?
When you’re faced with adversity, rebel and fight back.
• Research everything, ask a lot of questions, always look to improve processes or procedures.
• The biggest marketing strategy that is extremely successful is having good communication skills.
• The more you master relationships and networking the more you can grow.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.