It’s the important question that every business owner must ask themselves
Why do you do what you do?
What is motivating you to work hard and accomplish your goals?
Or, as Roofing Insights CEO Dmitry Lipinskiy asks in a recent interview:
“How do you become purpose-driven?”
Lipinskiy’s question is aimed at Ryan Utsch, the owner of NexGen Exteriors in Andover, Minnesota.
NexGen is a $15 million company, and like many successful business owners, it’s run by a man who has overcome countless obstacles in order to achieve his definition of happiness.
For Ryan Utsch, there is one emotion that keeps him running after 23 years in business, a time period that has been filled with turbulence, including losing his long-time business partner.
“Fear became my biggest motivator,”
“When my partner left, I felt like a cat in water.”
That’s because Utsch has a brash personality, and that was often stabilized by his ex-business partner’s calm demeanor.
It makes sense then that when the two went their separate ways, Utsch was concerned about how his business could continue to be profitable. Complicating matters, Utsch’s old business partner was also his brother-in-law.
Therefore, to say Utsch was feeling the pressure after the split would be a gigantic understatement.
“It was literally my life on the line,”
Utsch says of that moment in his career.
Between having kids and a mortgage, and then trying to keep his company afloat without his partner, Utsch was about to encounter a pivotal moment in his career.
“When their back is against the wall, they crumble. Other people, they come out swinging.”
Utsch exhibited the latter, taking an aggressive approach with his company that included building a sales and admin staff, and then door-knocking to secure new clients.
This was five years ago.
Since then, Utsch has thrived as the majority stakeholder in his business and NexGen has doubled their profits each year until 2020, when they stabilized at $15 million in revenue.
This has in turn created a nice lifestyle for Utsch and his family, but he warns other business owners that getting to this point was not happenstance.
“People need to know that it’s not everyone’s journey to have what I have,”
Utsch says of the life he has created for himself.
“You know how many people come through my door and think they can be me?”
He adds that his words shouldn’t be interpreted as an exhibition of self-aggrandizement. In fact, his intentions are the exact opposite.
Says Utsch of other business owners:
“They’re probably smarter than me, they probably had a much better start in life than me, but they’re not going to be me, no matter what. Some things aren’t in the cards for certain people.”
Utsch again emphasizes that it’s not enough to simply hope to be successful in business, especially in roofing. One’s actions have to support their words, particularly as it pertains to customer service.
“The biggest thing I figured out along the way was how to treat people,”
says Utsch, adding that beyond having a good production team and quality crews, it’s customer service that has allowed NexGen to ascend to its current state.
Without that focus on customer service, it’s likely Utsch would not be in the position he is in today, especially because when he first got into the industry, he knew nothing about branding, vehicle wraps, or company t-shirts.
Instead, Utsch learned everything through experience, and says that if he had to start all over, there is one thing he would make sure to have.
“You have to have a mentor, or you need to have been installing for a minimum of 3-5 years or selling for a company for 3-5 years,”
“The days of a Justin Woodruff [$7.5 million company in just three years] and the likelihood of repeating what he did without the background of installing or selling are nil. Being a realist, I don’t think most people will ever be able to come up the way he did that quickly.”
Instead, Utsch says to build a sustainable and profitable company, it’s best to hire more people and delegate tasks.
But beyond that, it’s also imperative that as an owner, you don’t become obsessed with making money and chasing glory.
“I believe that if you get people to love you, they will do anything for you. Also, you have to learn how to manage money. I wanted the big truck and the mansion, and for ten years I chased my tail trying to get it, and I got none of it. But the minute I quit focusing on money is when I began making money.”
Want to learn more from Ryan Utsch?
Watch the video above, and for even more inspiring content, enroll in the Roofing Business School today!
Members of the school have exclusive access to content that is not made available on YouTube, with packages starting as low as $299/month!
Plus, if you enroll in the enterprise-level membership for $499/month, you will receive unlimited graphic design assistance, monthly phone calls with Dmitry Lipinskiy, and so much more!
To learn more about the Roofing Business School, visit their website today!