I follow my heart and my gut and keep moving forward. There are always ups and downs, but you can’t quit, you must persevere.”
Raymond Falite joined his brother, who, in 1977, started an HVAC company with a red truck and $300. The company is now the thriving, vibrant Falite Brothers. They worked seven days per week for the first 20 years in order to grow the company. For the last 20 years they were able to work six days per week to stay on path. Falite Brothers has 45 employees and they focus on light commercial and residential clients. They have gravitated away from the larger clients they used to service in an effort to become involved in more smaller projects, which can be better for business. The new niche has proven to be a successful business model for Falite Brothers.
Where did the idea for Falite Brothers come from?
My brother, who went to school and became involved in the HVAC industry through one of the big hospitals here in Boston. After seven years working in HVAC, he decided to open his own company. He asked me to work with him, so I joined him and we became partners. That is how Falite Brothers was born!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I get up around 5:30 in the morning and start by checking my emails, then by 7:30 or 8 am I am off to the office. Once I am at the office, I have another quick email check and meet with my office manager to discuss the day’s schedule and to do lists. After that I go to the different job sites for status checks with the foreman’s. With the various jobs on track it is time for another email check and a review of upcoming jobs.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When we have a new idea, I call a meeting with the managers and office personnel for a discussion and feedback. From there I will assign this to someone for launch. It could be a new product or marketing plan, but the whole company participates as a team.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am really excited about the ductless Mitsubishi system. I really think this is the future of HVAC. It is very popular in the European countries where they do not have room for duct work or piping. It was actually designed by an American in the 1950’s and then sat on the shelf for almost 15 years. The Japanese dusted it off and ran with it, starting in Europe and now here in the states. It is an excellent, far less invasive product and very easy to maintain.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t quit! If I encounter a roadblock, I do not quit. I go past it and stay on path. I follow my heart and my gut and keep moving forward. There are always ups and downs, but you can’t quit, you must persevere.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Oh wow! Once we had a job that was in terrible conditions. There was a small crawl space and a lot of piping. It was a nightmare that job. It used a lot of energy and resources to complete this job. I learned that just having a project to do does not mean success or profit. I learned how to choose projects that were best for the company rather than taking on every project. Some just are not for us.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I was schooled and educated in the trade, but I think I would take some additional business courses. I certainly learned what we needed, sometimes the hard way. However, I tink a few courses would have been very beneficial. I knew our trade, however, running a business is a separate entity.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I am avid about a yellow pad. I write everything down, I take notes, and keep track of my things to to. Once completed, I mark it off. I have a great memory, but even I cannot remember everything. I give my employees one too! I do not like to see sticky notes everywhere. They are a sign of a scattered mind when they are scattered all over.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Making sure that the customers are happy. We stand behind our work like Sears and Roebuck does. We will make sure the job is completed correctly. If they have any problems, we attend to it right away. We have people in their 80’s and 90’s who are still customers. We like to check on them because sometimes, for example, because they may have turned on the heater incorrectly and it is not working, so we will go make sure it is running and that they are fine. We never bill them for that. We just want to make sure they are ok.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There will always be failure along the way. When you have that happen and the wind is knocked out of your sails, you have to pick yourself up, analyze the situation, and keep moving forward. Not everything comes easy. Sometimes you may have to shift in order to move ahead, or even think outside the box.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The best idea I have is to make sure you make your employees happy and your customers too. Then you can grow a successful business. Always take care of your employees.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Well, it was more that $100! But we gave great Christmas bonuses to our employees. We also took them all to dinner and had a delicious meal and fun time. Our team is our family. I need everyone on my team or I would not be successful. I value everyone on my team.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Fleetmatics is a great software tool for tracking our vehicles. Not to track the employees, but more to protect ourselves. If someone says we were not there, I can look it up and see that they were there. Or if there is a traffic jam, I can tell and let a customer know there is a traffic delay.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Art of the Deal” was a great book at the time. It really let me know that I was on the right track and my negotiating skills were working. It supported what I was already doing.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I would say The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle was a great inspirational book. I have been interested in this kind of reading material for about ten years. I found this book really resonated with me and I have enjoyed Eckhart Tolle’s work since reading this.
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.