Pepper Rutland – Founder and CEO of MMR Group

I believe that there are two words you must eliminate in your culture to get people behind you in order to grow. Those two words are “Ego” and “Greed.”

Pepper Rutland is an entrepreneurial philanthropist first and an entrepreneurial businessman second. He founded his company, MMR Group, in 1991 and is currently serving as the company’s President/CEO. Through his work and life experiences, and thanks to the success of his business, Pepper has been able to give back to the community in several ways, including by founding his own charitable baseball league. None of this would be possible without the support of his family and colleagues, and he credits his successes not only to his strong determination and work ethic, but to those who have influenced him along his career.

Pepper attended Louisiana State University, where he was awarded a football scholarship. He served as team captain, and was named a member of the All Southeastern Conference Academic Team for the 1971-1972 school year. Although Pepper Rutland excelled on the football field, this was not his only area of expertise while attending LSU. Pepper continued to excel in his academic studies as well, focusing on his Bachelor of Science in Construction Technology & Engineering degree diligently.

Adding yet another accomplishment to his time at LSU, Pepper Rutland was actually one of the first students to graduate from the Construction Technology Program. During his time in college, Pepper also held the distinguished honor of serving as Vice President of Sigma Lambda Chi, the National Construction Scholastic Society.

Through his determination and strong academic successes, Pepper was able to create his own company from the ground up. To this day, MMR Group is the largest privately-owned merit shop electrical and instrumentation contractor in America. The great stature and reputation of MMR Group has given Pepper Rutland the chance to expand his business, giving it the added benefit of being one of the only businesses in the industry that houses such a wide skill set of work.

Pepper Rutland has been able to partner with his beloved alma mater, LSU, through MMR Group to donate over $1 million to the College of Engineering in the hopes of inspiring others to pursue the studies within this major. This donation elevated the college to become recognized by the Society for Engineering Excellence of LSU.

Although Pepper has immense pride for his company, MMR Group is not the only accomplishment that aids in his entrepreneurial endeavors. Sports were such an important part of Pepper’s life growing up that he wanted to share this joy with others in addition to being able to give back to the community. This desire to give others the foundation of success that he enjoyed was the inspiration for his next big adventure.

Pepper Rutland became a founding member of the Miracle League at Cypress Mounds, where he currently serves as President of the organization. Through the Miracle League, Pepper is able to provide opportunities for children with disabilities to play baseball in a league all their own. This organization gives support for both a men’s and women’s team, giving the volunteers and members of the group a chance to mentor these young individuals and inspire them to strive for success. This project has brought great joy to Pepper, as he and his fellow members believe that nothing should stop the determination of a young mind, no matter the circumstances.

With humble pride, Pepper Rutland continues to lead his peers and employees within his own business, and those he comes into contact with through his philanthropic work. With expansions for MMR Group in North Dakota, Texas, and Ecuador, increased participation within the Miracle League of Cypress Mounds, and ongoing recognitions from LSU, Pepper Rutland has enjoyed being able to reflect on the lessons he’s learned throughout his early adulthood and career in order to provide advice and support for others. It is his wish that everyone be successful and give back in whatever capacity they are able.

Where did the idea for MMR Group come from?

After leaving a previous organization that was similar in nature, I believed that, managed differently, our business model would thrive, and it has.

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

My typical day is spent reacting to problems, answering questions, resolving issues or conflicts, and directing our management team on the path and business model we have chosen. Unanswered questions or issues do nothing but slow progress.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I generally bounce new ideas off my senior management team to get their reaction and look for the flaws and weak points. If we can’t shoot it down, we move on to the next step.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The trend that our country is really working toward is Energy Independence. This will truly have a long-lasting impact on our economy and where we are headed as a nation.

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

I have the determination to complete a task in full–never leaving anything unfinished. I believe that it is important to clean up all the details that are often overlooked, no matter how small.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To be more patient. Sometimes quick reactions are truly knee-jerk, and you later wish you would have taken a little more time to think it through.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

I believe in today’s lifestyle the entrepreneur can still succeed and help influence change. That the sophisticated society we live in has not dampened that spirit, even though it is much harder than it was 20 years ago.

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

Organize and prioritize your schedule and routine every day. Disorganization creates chaos and confusion. People tend to migrate toward stable, structured, and organized operations.

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

Leadership through Example. When people see senior leaders in the “trenches” willing to do whatever to help succeed, they respond. I believe that there are two words you must eliminate in your culture to get people behind you in order to grow. Those two words are “Ego” and “Greed.”

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

To not listen to my gut instinct when I knew better, knew something wasn’t right but did it anyway because there was a compelling argument at the time. Listen to your gut, your heart, and your conscience.

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

Divisionalized entrepreneurship, where you invest in your management on a basis that you reward good management skills and decision making financially. Effectively, you are asking them to “bet” on themselves.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Picking up a dinner tab for a couple of military guys coming back from Iraq. It’s amazing how grateful they were when it should be us that has that gratitude.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Everything is on my cell phone, daily morning report, stock market analysis, every APP available, well maybe not every APP.

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

I have 5 books I recommend to our upcoming management. I personally liked Endurance by Alfred Lansing. It shows great leadership of men and how you can endure struggle in the toughest of situations.

What is your favorite quote?

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” William Pollard

Key Learnings

  • I believe that there are two words you must eliminate in your culture to get people behind you in order to grow. Those two words are “Ego” and “Greed.”
  • Listen to your gut, your heart, and your conscience.
  • I have the determination to complete a task in full–never leaving anything unfinished. I believe that it is important to clean up all the details that are often overlooked, no matter how small.


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