Joe Carter – CEO of Snyder Environmental

[quote style=”boxed”]Identifying the right thing that everyone else says can’t be done. Then apply enough energy and resources to make it so.[/quote]

Joe Carter is CEO of Snyder Environmental, Inc., an environmental remediation company based in North Little Rock, Ark. Snyder Environmental provides the safe and compliant remediation of environmental issues, including asbestos abatement and lead paint removal.

Snyder Environmental specializes in asbestos abatement, mold remediation, dust control, and lead paint removal in Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The company’s expertise includes: abatement design, including specifications, asbestos and lead inspections and surveys, asbestos, lead-based paint, and mold material abatement, dust control, demolition and special environmental abatement

Joe has over 12 years of entrepreneurial experience in building and leading companies. Under his leadership, Snyder Environmental has thrice been named to Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest growing, privately held, for-profit companies in the country. Founded in 2007, Snyder Environmental has done over 1,600 jobs including marine and maritime asbestos abatement in the south, throughout the US and overseas.

Joe is a graduate of the University of Arkansas. He is a board member of the Arkansas Environmental Federation, a local association that deals with environmental, safety, and health regulations.

In addition to his professional involvement, Joe’s community involvement includes Board Member of Our House, an organization that provides the working homeless – individuals and families – with shelter, housing, job training, education, childcare and summer youth programs. Joe is also a Steering Committee Member of the Ronald McDonald House in Little Rock, AR.

Where did the idea for Snyder Environmental come from?

Back in 2007, I was looking to diversify my business, which dealt with fee based employee benefit consulting. I could see that the political landscape was shifting and that major health care reform was imminent. Diversification in such uncertainty seemed prudent. So, in looking for a business, I targeted firms that offered something meaningful with a legacy effect. Snyder Environmental met that need by taking harmful substances like asbestos and lead paint from buildings to make them much safer for inhabitants. Taking old buildings and making them new, safe and useful again remains a very meaningful “green” contribution.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

It generally starts with coffee and the emails that came overnight. It is troubling how much communication happens from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am, but those issues tend to be high priority items. Then once things are stabilized, it is off to the office or meetings. Tasks vary a great deal from day to day. Some days it is jeans, steel toe boots, coveralls, hardhats and respirators. Other days it is suits with meetings that range in attendees from bankers to Congressmen. That variety makes it incredibly fun but difficult to stay on task. Making it productive involves being sure I stay focused on the right issues. Discerning urgent from important and strategic from tactical is critical. Then having people far smarter than me to help with most of the urgent matters, and virtually all of the tactical ones allows me to stay focused on strategically important items. And, my role in the organization, is to be sure we don’t loose sight of those things because the urgent and tactical items will absolutely consume all of our energy and resources if we let them.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Passion, persistence and tenacity are key. First, really believing in something is important because that excitement is needed to drive you when there is nothing else. People can sense when you believe in something or when you are just peddling something for the proverbial buck. From there, staying on point when others walk away is the difference between mere hope and reality.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The increase in solar energy mixed with improvements in battery technology. I believe our energy grid is about to make substantial changes.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Identifying the right thing that everyone else says can’t be done. Then apply enough energy and resources to make it so.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

My worst job was inventory clerk counting books and magazines in Wal-Mart. It was my first job after graduating college. The recruiter made a grand pitch about using all of my marketing classes to help establish trends and maximize sales. I was there until lunch when I figured out that in reality, all I was going to do was count magazines and books, ordering more of what had sold. I called everyone at lunch and told them I’d made a bad decision. They were gracious and didn’t hold me to a notice period. Thank goodness. From that I learned to be wary of the pitch from the recruiter and that I had to have a variety of tasks to keep me engaged.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would have a different capitalization structure to facilitate faster growth with less burden on cash flow.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Stay optimistic. People are drawn to positive energy and want to be a part of something moving forward.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Don’t focus on the money. Money doesn’t really motivate anyone and frankly, our society needs way less concern for profit and far more concern for doing what is right. Be a leader by doing what is right. The money will not always take care of itself, like many say it will, but the legacy is far more meaningful. Surround yourself with people who are absolutely smarter, but also concerned with legacy. Power is found in that combination.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

It is 9:48 am. I have probably made 3 critical mistakes today. But the point is to keep going, learn and do better.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Go international. Accept the reality that the world is different and we are no longer competing with the firm down the street. We are competing with the firm around the world. And, in another downtown of the economy, a business might be very glad to have revenue coming from parts of the world now considered “emerging”.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

At heart, I am just a cowboy. At this stage, “I am all hat and no cows” but the ideology is absolutely core to who I am.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I find myself using less software and spending more time with people. It’s better.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Anything written by Rob Kaplan because he offers the most pointed and truthful insight on effective leadership I have seen.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

I would follow Rob Kaplan on LinkedIn, Twitter, and elsewhere. He generates fantastic interviews that teach more in 30 seconds then many kids learn over an entire MBA.


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