“Focus on the academics.” - Alan Wozniak
Alan Wozniak, CIAQP, CIEC former president/CEO and founder of Pure Air Control Services, Inc. in Clearwater, Florida an environmental / HVAC Mechanical Firm established in 1984 with divisions including: Building Sciences, Environmental Diagnostics laboratory and Building remediation group. In 2021, he successfully managed the sale of the firm to a Fortune 500 organization, RPM International.
Pure Air Control Services is a provider of indoor environmental services in over 19,000 facilities covering 900 million sq. ft. both nationally and internationally and is one of the largest full services, comprehensive healthy building indoor environmental firms in the nation with heavy experience in governments, healthcare, higher education, lower education, commercial and entertainment markets.
Mr. Wozniak has authored numerous articles on IAQ, is a NEWSWEEK Magazine Expert Author, has been guest lecturer on many webinars, podcasts, workshops and at IAQ symposia
Some of Mr. Wozniak’s many accomplishments include leading the firm to:
•INC 500 national list 4 years in a row
•370% growth in the past 5 years
•Tampa Bay FAST 50 – bay area fastest growing private firms
•Tampa Bay Business Journal – MBE Top 25
•National Hispanic Businesses - Top 500
•Frost & Sullivan – Product Differentiation Innovation Award for its Solutions for Improving IAQ
•Provided the management and oversight of the M&A selling his firm for 17.5X EBITDA
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Alan Wozniak, CIAQP, CIEC - Founder - Business Health Matters (BHM)- Executive Consulting | LinkedIn
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Alan Wozniak is the former President, CEO, and Founder of Pure Air Control Services, Inc. in Clearwater, Florida, which is an environmental and HVAC mechanical firm, which was established in 1984. Pure Air Control Services has divisions in building sciences, environmental diagnostics, laboratory and building remediation groups. In 2021, Alan successfully manage the sale of the firm to a Fortune 500 company RPM International.
Pure Air Control Services is a provider of indoor environmental services in over 19,000 facilities covering 900 million square feet, both nationally and internationally, and is one of the largest full services, comprehensive, healthy building indoor environmental firms in the nation with heavy experience in government, healthcare, higher education, lower education, commercial and entertainment markets.
Some of Mr. Wozniak's many accomplishments include leading the firm to Inc 500 national list, four years in a row, a 370% growth in the past five years, the Tampa Bay Fast, 50 Fastest Growing Private Firms, the Tampa Bay Business Journal MBE Top 25, the National Hispanic Business Top 500, Frost And Sullivan Product Differentiation Innovation Award for its solutions for improving indoor air quality, and providing the management and oversight of the M&A process to realize a seventeen and half EBITDA.
Mr. Wozniak has authored numerous articles on indoor air quality and is a Newsweek Magazine expert author. In addition, Mr. Wazniak has been a guest lecturer on many webinars, podcasts workshops and indoor air quality symposiums.
Welcome to the Deep Wealth Podcast. And as you heard from the introduction, we have a superstar. We are in the presence of success with our guest.
We have a thought leader, a successful business owner, just coming off a tremendous liquidity event. Who's here to talk all things business and beyond Alan, welcome to the Deep Wealth Podcast. An absolute pleasure to have you with us. And you know what, Alan, before we get going into this treasure trove of wisdom that you have, there's always a story behind the story, Alan, what's your story?
What got you to where you are today?
[00:04:17] Alan Wozniak: Jeffrey, thanks for having me on your podcast. This is an excellent opportunity to share information. Quite frankly, I've been an entrepreneur my entire life. I started actually a quick story. It goes back, probably 50 years ago. During the summer as growing up as a kid, 6, 7, 8-year-old kid, I would literally had lawn businesses.
I had lawn-cutting businesses. I'd paper routes, I'd pick up bottles off the street, turn 'em in for cash. One of my other businesses, I did a gas station attending construction, but one of the business I did my first as business was everybody does lemonade stands and lemonade, was the thing it is today.
What I wanna do, I didn't realize very young that you want to be different. What's your differentiator. So instead of doing lemonade, I happened to do Tang. I think Tang was maybe my lemonade was out at our house. And so Tang was the thing we had and Tang is a mixed drink, same way. So it happened to be one of the drinks that was resonating back then.
And a lot of people used it. So I set up my Tang stand and my dad at the time was a general contractor, a home builder and on occasion, he'd bring in clients to our house. This is up in Northern Virginia McLean and he brought him a gentleman and I happened to have the lemonade stand there and walks up and introduces himself and I'm not really paying attention to who he was and what he was, but he you know, he bought a couple cups of Tang from me and my dad later, he introduced himself as Neil Armstrong.
It didn't mean anything to me at the time.
[00:05:53] Jeffrey Feldberg: The Neil Armstrong.
[00:05:54] Alan Wozniak: The Neil Armstrong.
[00:05:55] Jeffrey Feldberg: Oh my goodness.
[00:05:56] Alan Wozniak: This is what I used to drink when I was in outer space. And so that became, I said, dad, did you get a picture with me and him? Because I could've used that today.
If I wrote a book, this would've been a perfect cover, you know, story.
But that was my first customer service, that was another big thing that I grew up with is customer service centric capacity. And today, quite frankly, customer service sucks. It's bad. You've seen you buy anything today besides, Amazon.
It's just not good that's an overall service, but that was really my first time into it. And as I grew up, we started in HVAC industry, the heating ventilation air conditioning, and we were one of dozens of, I mean, you were a dime, a dozen of HVAC companies and we were all of us.
We were either carrier dealers, trained dealers, Siemens, whatever the manufacturer was and each time that we would be we'd have a meeting with the manufacturer in this case, let's call it carrier. The first thing outta their mouth was, Hey, Alan, how we doing? How many boxes did we move?
So we really were in a product-centric box moving business that quite frankly, it's the cheapest guy wins when you become a commodity such as that.
So I realized I gotta either, I gotta get outta his business, cuz this is just it's everybody's in it. And we had eight in just our little county. We had 800 licensed contractors and then you add another 800 of unlicensed contractors.
That's a lot in the small area.
[00:07:28] Jeffrey Feldberg: Sure.
[00:07:29] Alan Wozniak: So what I did, you know, I started realizing what can I do differently with this industry that differentiates me. So I realize every time I walk by an air handler, we would take one out commercial, residential, they would smell nasty. You literally could be five, 10 feet away from it. You were downstream. And the unit was outside. You could smell the odor. So I thought, this must not be good for people. And I didn't know. So I literal took some samples, some bulk samples I sent to a lab that I know, and an environmental microbiology lab and had em analyze it.
And the analysis came back with a lot of microbes, such as penicillin, aspergillus, and other known pathogens that cause significant distress in those who are immunocompromised. I happen to have a friend that was an allergist immunologist. So I ran this report by the doctor. I said, Dr. Wood, these samples, or the analysis that we have here the a analysts that were measured, would these cause concern to your patients. And he said, absolutely, 99% of my patients would have an allergic reaction to these. And they were in abundance.
So I thought, okay, this there's something here, cuz they all have it, but nobody's addressing it.
They're just interested in moving a box, moving an air handler, putting in a condenser, putting in a air handler and condensing systems. And so I met with EPA Nash, OSHA, world health, and they all said the same thing. Alan, yes, it's a problem. We are in the cusp of a major issue. It will be a problem in the coming years.
And it's a problem today. We just don't know about it. So I said, I'm gonna change the focus. My goal as a differentiator was I'm gonna build a building science group that studies buildings.
[00:09:13] Jeffrey Feldberg: And Alan let me ask you a quick question here. I'm curious. I'm sure listeners are curious most business owners in your situation. You get asked by the supplier. Who's your partner. Hey, how many boxes have you moved? And oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's Let's look at doing more boxes and you did that and we'll hear more about that, but what had you curious of what exactly is this doing anyways?
And what's really going on here and why is there this funny smell that's coming from that most business owners would've just looked the other way. Let me just sell some more, get some more profits. What was it at that time that had you say, hey, something's going on here? Let me find a little bit more what's this is all about
[00:09:49] Alan Wozniak: Number one, probably curiosity mostly, but also I saw this as, okay that's my differentiator.
[00:09:56] Jeffrey Feldberg: Okay.
[00:09:57] Alan Wozniak: If I move towards an environmental building or a healthy building, healthy home that could differentiate me between them and me, and I'd ask the question. Do the consumer, the business owner or the homeowner, you know, do you suffer from allergies?
Do your children suffer from allergies or does any family members suffer from allergies and if so, do they, have they had allergic reactions while at home or while at work in inevitably the answer was yes. And the next question is would it be of concern to you to if that if I could improve that, would that be a, make a difference in your life?
And the answer was unequivocally. Yes. So instead of selling, Mrs. Smith calling me and saying, hey, I want an air conditioning system. I always say, timeout, what about your health? What about your air quality? What's the conditions? This is 30 years ago. Mind you?
[00:10:46] Jeffrey Feldberg: So you're way ahead of the curve. I mean today, that's we kind of take that for granted, but back then, people must have looked at you. What's this guy talking about? Where is he coming from?
[00:10:55] Alan Wozniak: Exactly. And so that was the focus of the business is to identify like a doctor would a patient. You wouldn't go to your doctor and without a battery of tests, a battery of questions, and have them perform surgery or prescribe you medication. That's just normal, but so why do businesses that are centric to product or others?
Prescribe something that they don't really know what works. It might have a brochure that says, ah, this does this, that and the other. But it they don't really know that it works like a body everyone's different and like a building, every building's different, we analyzed entire campuses. That's one we did over 19,000 studies, over 900 million square feet.
[00:11:38] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. Hold on. Did you say 19,000 studies?
[00:11:41] Alan Wozniak: 19,000 over the years of our business. So you can imagine as 19, that could be 19,000 people. So we had a pretty good database. We literally wrote, white papers, peer reviewed white papers on indoor quality what's considered to be normal, like a doctor would, if you were measuring the metabolic health of an individual patient that would cover, say your waist circumference, your fasting, blood glucose, your blood pressure, your HDLs triglycerides we are doing the same thing with buildings studying what are the baseline conditions? And nobody did in fact today, very few do what we do or had done. So every department I had four divisions. One was a building science group. One was a lab and the lab differentiator was we had doctors on staff.
The other differentiator was we we had a chamber that we literally did efficacy studies on products.
[00:12:31] Jeffrey Feldberg: So wait a minute. You had doctors on staff.
[00:12:33] Alan Wozniak: Yes. Not initially. This Is you know, maybe 10 years into the business. In order to become, to have an accredited lab. I needed key people, PCL scientists that were in the microbiology, immunology arena that knew this stuff, and that could measure it.
And we grew it to become one of the best boutique labs in the country. We'd samples and leads, and water samples for Legionella analysis would come into our lab all the time, just for analysis. So we became a very niche business that analyzed sample. So pre COVID, it was very busy and post COVID obviously, become much, much busier as a business.
Our remediation division, basically, the differentiator there was, we would take old, large air handling systems and refurbished them for about half the cost of brand new and provide a warranty that was five times better than a new unit manufacture warranty. And we would basically abrade the rust.
We would remove insulation from the interior of it that was heavily molded. We would steam clean the coil. We had a 14 step process to do that. We would take out the blower assembly, which was a large squirrel cage system with a VFD motor, a shaft. We remove it and put in a thousand-pound fan ray or fan wall with ECM motors.
Zero maintenance on that system. Whereas it was a lot of maintenance and facility managers loved the fact that they would, it was quieter, more efficient redundant, meaning if one of the fans were to go, the others would continue to operate, themselves. These systems that became very fashionable pre-COVID and then post COVID.
When COVID hit, the world stopped for two or three months is, and we did too, but all of a sudden people realized, oh, COVID is an airborne virus. You know, CDC initially called it a surface virus.
Literally our first being mechanical engineers and scientists, our team got together and said, look, this is a microscopic organism.
We know that it's in the 0.03 micron level. What is, what happens to a .03 micron particle? It stays suspended. So we knew that the particulate was a suspended particle that we designed HVAC systems to change year four to 10 times an hour. So at a low level, can you imagine the air in your room moving every 15 minutes?
So the last, 30 minutes we've been here that your air has changed twice.
[00:15:04] Jeffrey Feldberg: And Alan let me just jump in here for a moment. And I know for listeners, Alan brings such a wealth of information that we're gonna have a multi-part series where we're talking shop today on the business side, and then it's gonna be health. And you're gonna hear some things you're never gonna look the same again when you walk inside your home building an office, but Alan I just wanna get this straight.
So when you first started out in business. It sounds like you were like everyone else. And your curiosity is really what had you start asking questions and you saw that, hey, here's an area I can differentiate myself and really do something that no one else is doing. And it's a problem that no one really understands or recognizes or sees what's there.
So on paper it looks so easy. It sounds so easy in reality. It never usually is. What were some of the challenges that you had out of the gates when you started going down that path and how did you eventually begin to scale? I mean, To start having in-house doctors and 19,000 tests that you've done, I mean, that is just monumental, but how did you get there?
You had to start somewhere and you certainly didn't start there when you first began.
[00:16:12] Alan Wozniak: Yeah, great question. When we started the business, it just didn't explode. Obviously we were pioneers in the indoor environmental arena. We grew at a favorable amount each year, five, 10%, sometimes not so much but it was a steady, somewhat a steady growth. Obviously you would hit recessions.
You know, we went through probably three recessions in that timeframe and obviously you have different situations, but it started to pick up momentum over the last, I would say 10 years became more in vogue. When COVID hit, obviously it became even more and I call it today it was, it's the wild west of indoor quality, cuz there's a lot of bad stuff out there that people are just, you know, buying and droves because of the federal funding, Esther funds and carers dollars.
[00:16:56] Jeffrey Feldberg: Sure.
[00:16:57] Alan Wozniak: It was a slow growth and probably our defining moment in our business. And ours is very typical most is we pay our people for what we can afford, not necessarily what they're worth.
And I realized that with larger companies, they were paying well for their people.
And I realized that's one of the things I need to to get into this next realm. I need to bring in people that are smarter than me. And I have been doing that for the last 20 years in addition, I need to, you know, these are A player type people. They're go-getters.
They're gonna make, they're making it happen. In addition, I needed to have my processes, my marketing and sales, and operation process work seamless. I didn't want redundancy, like our fan rays. We put in systems that are redundant. We want to add redundancy in a business. You wanna minimize that?
I don't wanna do things five times over the same process. So we built a system that was non-redundant. It moved from one location to another, from our marketing team to integrating clients, to our sales team and sales process, to the production, the operational side. And that's really that process that we developed.
It took years to develop getting in conjunction with getting key A players really moved the business and buying into what I had to sell. We're not consulting business. We're not a box-moving business. We're selling the why and not the what we do.
[00:18:29] Jeffrey Feldberg: Although you could have been that box moving business. Had you been like everyone else not asked any questions and just went along?
[00:18:34] Alan Wozniak: Exactly. And we decided, no, we're not gonna do that. We're gonna differentiate ourselves between all the other guys and quite frankly, 10, 20, 30 years later, they're like, oh my gosh, You were so smart in doing that?
Well, It wasn't really smart. It was just, I wanted to be different. I wanted, I don't wanna be like you guys. I don't wanna move boxes. And, in fact, one, it was ironic. One of the first large consulting projects on our building science team we got was from the manufacturer that was telling us to move boxes.
That we're now consulting to them because they had a poor installation as mechanical engineers and billing scientists. They saw us as, okay. We have a problem unit that we just installed and we have to find out what the problem is and we gotta fix it. And you guys are it. So here we are the first large client first client, one of the first clients was the company who we were literally buying equipment from paying large dollars, but getting a box and everybody else was comparing the same thing to, so that was an ironic part of the pause that really gave us the push to get into this business in a bigger way, because it was a year long project and it sustained our building science team, our lab team, and our remediation team, one large project.
[00:19:53] Jeffrey Feldberg: And so Alan, if we can pause here for a moment, because there's some really important takeaways for our listeners that are coming out of this. Look, if we check the Eagles at the door and we're open and honest about this, Alan, the HVAC industry, it's a competitive industry. There's many companies, and some would say they're more or less all generic in terms of what they do yet despite that you from your curiosity, you carved out a very unique position. And I know offline, we've had a number of conversations and we're talking about blue oceans, which is in a nine-step roadmap. Step number two, X-Factors that insanely increase the value of your business. One of them is a blue ocean where you move outta the red ocean, where all the fishing boats are.
You're all competing for the same fish and it's bloody, and there's not a lot of fish and there's scarcity. And here you are in the blue ocean. You're beginning to do your own thing. Even to the point where one of your suppliers or partner says, hey, sell what you're doing. Can we talk more about this?
This is interesting to me. And so that curiosity, is that something in business that you've always relied upon, or when did that start to come into focus for you?
[00:21:01] Alan Wozniak: Well, I think it's part of what my focus was from day one. I wanted to be a differentiator. I didn't know what that meant in terms of my particular business at the time, looking back, historically 30 years later it was heaven-sent. It was something that really defined the business, defined us as who we are.
We became the leader, in fact, In five, we were in 5,000 of, I think it was four years running in the last five years. Meaning that we're the fastest-growing private companies in the country. And if you break that down, cuz that's 5,000 companies and you break down the indoor environmental services companies.
We were the number one, so that's a big, and a big accolade that was bestowed on us. But because of what we did, if I was a typical HVAC contractor, like I did, years ago, and we stayed that same path that, hey, we're gonna stick to our guns. We're gonna sell air conditioning.
We're gonna be the best air conditioning company out there. We wouldn't be in the same boat we are today.
[00:22:02] Jeffrey Feldberg: And so let me ask you and our listeners heard it in the introduction? I mean, Ink 500 you're on the national list four years in a row, a 370% growth increase over the past five years, Tampa Bay Fast 50, and the list just goes on and on with what you've done. So when you've found your differentiator.
And by the way, Alan I would put your curiosity as an X-Factor on your leadership. We don't often see that we look at X-Factors more in the business, more as inanimate, kinds of things, but in your case, that curiosity, that's really an X-Factor that had you just see the world completely different.
So you're starting to grow. You're getting traction. How are you handling things in terms of cash flow and money? And did you have to get some financing from the bank? Did you get some outside financing? What was that looking like? And some of the challenges for you when you started to find your rhythm,
[00:22:56] Alan Wozniak: That's a great question. We never, actually from day one, we never had outside
funding. We never had any, not a rich uncle or aunt that said, hey, here's money, go knock yourself out. It was just nose to the grindstone business. Never say never attitude and having the, what I term stick tuitiveness.
We're gonna stick to it no matter what. And there are times quite frankly, that we could have in fact, I had other outside parties and alum why are you still in business? Why are you still doing this? You're not making money. You're losing money on occasion. And you know, this is just goes back in the early days when most businesses, 50% failed in the first, you know, five years, 60% or 70% the reason they fail was, is because they didn't have a strategic plan.
One of the things that we did do was we built a strategic plan way back. When now would it work today? No. But the differentiation, identification will work today
[00:23:51] Jeffrey Feldberg: mm-hmm
[00:23:52] Alan Wozniak: back then. But it was, not without struggle. Someone consider us a 30 year, overnight success story, it took 30 years to get to our point and we had enough Audacity and enough, stick to it in us to say, hey, we're gonna go through this.
And it requires knocking down walls. We're gonna go there. And it really, through all the recessions, we went through it, it made us very proud of what we did and also very frugal. Every penny we spent, we negotiate everything to the point where we'd get, multiple bids on things that we needed to get done and not to say, go in with the lowest bid, but we would go with the most competent service and so forth.
[00:24:29] Jeffrey Feldberg: And you know what? I absolutely love that. And this topic is near and dear, because you're bootstrapping it. I call that a cockroach startup and in a cockroach startup, like you say, you don't have a rich family member that you can go to. You're not going to the banks or outside investors. Resilience trumps resources.
And I know as an example, in my case, and many other business owners, back in the day with my e-learning company, you know what, Alan, if I would've had access to the cash, I don't know if the company ultimately would've been so successful, like it went on to be. And let me ask you that question. If you would've had access to oodles and noodles of cash, private equity, would've come back in the day and written the check for you.
How would that have changed your trajectory? What would that have looked like?
[00:25:13] Alan Wozniak: You know, that's a great question. Jeffrey, because I see today, businesses in the private equity industry and the merging acquisition industry, they just throw money at stuff and you know, I don't think we would ever, we wouldn't have been as successful as we were if we had been given a lot of money had the not necessarily earn it, but had to work in that capacity, I think because we had to bootstrap ourselves every day was a new day. We're gonna take dodge by sundown. That was the mentality every single day. And our business grew until we started doing some things that differentiate ourselves from a business and process point that we really started to take off in the last five years.
That's where our biggest growth was as an organization. But to answer your question, I, quite frankly don't think I see companies who are brand new business and they put in 10 million into it and three years later, they've lost 30 million.
And you know, we couldn't have operated that way.
I'm gonna make money every single month because I know that it's gonna affect the P&L every month, a balance sheet every month. And I need to show, I need to show a good progression in order to be marketable to some M & A or some PE that might eventually wanna if we wanna go that route.
I wasn't, that was the end goal. That was not the end goal for me, but it was okay. But if I go there. How do I become more valuable to the outside world? And that's sort of what we looked at.
[00:26:40] Jeffrey Feldberg: And what's interesting there. I mean, there's so many takeaways, Alan, for business owners, entrepreneurs, founders, you name it, that access to money isn't the end all and be all that we often think that it is. When we're pushed and we have that pressure. We are forced to just really find ways of, okay, how can we innovate?
How can we do this different? How can we become, more productive. How can we keep the cost down? And that's exactly what you did. So you're bootstrapping all the way through. You're starting to get some success. So, Alan, what was it? You mentioned that in the last five years in particular, that's when things really started to click for you, what was it?
Was there a single factor or what was it? A few things that came together that in the last five years, you just catapulted and you took off revenue-wise, profit wise.
[00:27:31] Alan Wozniak: Yes. There was a number of things. It wasn't any singular event. It was what I referred to earlier as getting not succumbing to the woe was my mentality and I'm gonna do things as cheap as I can. I went out and got players and paid them well. And had a game plan. Here's what we're gonna do.
Here's how we're gonna do it. And here's why we're gonna do it. We're doing, and we would define our goals and objectives, very meticulously. We met to exceed them each and every time in addition, I brought in a marketing director, so I got key sales reps. I had a very good operational Team, with good direction.
So that was working in our favor. Our lab was good. Very good at what we did. And our building science team was very good at what they do. They were very prolific in what their processes were what we didn't have a great, grasp on is the sales and the marketing aspect. So I changed that around by getting a players.
I change it around by get getting a marking director. We had a game plan, collective one. We would meet weekly on what's the marketing cause what happened in the past before that we would do trade shows and conferences and webinars and the marketing side of it, we would do.
And then we'd say we got a hundred leads out of a conference. We didn't have the time to work those hundred leads. We would take the low hanging fruit, the top five and work those. And we would forget the rest.
That's 95 other prospective clients that really want your business.
So what we did in our new process, we developed a system where the marketing and sales never communicated before. Five six years ago, we did a program where we incorporated the marketing to work with the sales and the sales management CRM that they correlated and they talked to each other.
So we would then know, and we would put 'em into our drip campaign. If we didn't talk to them, they would at least be communicated with, we would educate them and we would continue to, and then we brought in an inside sales that would call those individuals. So all those things coupled with it really helped.
And my goal to my team was I don't want to have one stone unturned. Everybody is important, every client's important, and we need to make them feel that way. So if they you know, arrived in our conference or their trade show or event. And they talked to us and they had an interest in what we do and how we do it.
Let's communicate back to them because I've been to conferences and trade shows and I've talked to vendors and it's typical. You never hear from them.
And why are you spending this tens of thousands of dollars and you're spending hundreds of dollars per lead. And then letting it go to waste.
It just doesn't make sense. And I did it for many years and just for the lack of time and energy and money, I was doing that, but I stopped it. And then that's really what made those, the tides turned in that regard.
[00:30:31] Jeffrey Feldberg: Interesting. And Alan, I wanna speculate on something, but I don't want it to be speculation because I've heard you say this during our discussion right now, and offline, we had a few conversations. You really didn't sell in the sense that I don't think you sold a day in your life. It sounds like you really educated the marketplace and prospects.
You weren't doing any hard selling or what in the movies, or you hear or read about, you took a much softer approach. I'm gonna say a more value add approach of education. Can you talk to us? How did that influence your sales process and turning prospects from suspects to prospects, ultimately into clients, inter rating fans, how did you do that?
And outside of yourself, did your team follow your lead with that?
[00:31:16] Alan Wozniak: Yes. A good, another great question. Our work that we did and that's one, another thing that I put together was a our sales process. A sales process for whoever brought was brought in, they would do the same thing now, not to become ritualistic in the process, but you know here's the game plan and we're gonna work this the way cuz nobody knew our business.
So I knew that I need to have a process for our level of service. I term it more prescriptive selling and consultative selling because we're not selling the what, we're selling, the why we do what we do, cuz quite frankly, people don't care. They don't care what you do. They care why you do and what can they can benefit and how they can benefit from that level of service.
So all of our staff became selling the why. And we became very efficient at it. I call it the three, you know, one of my processes was the three P's. You have to understand the procurement identification, the process of what you do and why you do what you do and get them to engage. And then the price is the price of what you're looking for.
Does it make sense? And getting that out of the way really, was a game changer. In addition to I researched what the big guys were doing. In fact, we had a lot of large clients, carriers and trains, and other large organizations, and I saw what they were doing, what they were doing was, hey, they'd have some good sales ramps, but they also had procurement vehicles that allowed them to purchase their service or level of service without going out to the competitive bid every time you go out and go through the exercise. And in the end, I saw the indoor quality, unlike, a piece of equipment, it's price A, price B, price C it's the same thing. And there's not a whole lot of differentiation in what we were doing was that we were looking at, our level of service to provide to the customer. And how do we do that in a way that resonates with them specifically, but that was really the focus on a consultative, selling on a prescriptive selling? And I look at.
I've got many doctor friends in the past and you would never go to, I've never been in a doctor's office that if I was ailing that they didn't say, the admin secretary calls me over and says, okay, go down the hallway, turn in the right, going room B. And doctor's gonna start operating you wouldn't you never do that.
I'd run outta that room as fast as I could. Why do we do that in business? We say, you need this, and this is my price versus what is the person's need? What is their concern? Where are they hurting? What is the issues that you face with? What's the short-term issues? What's the long-term issues.
Where do you wanna be? In five years, I asked that question to a facility manager at a large university and he was blown away that I asked him well, Bob, what's your five year plan. Where do you see yourself in five years? And how can I help you get there? Not selling what I did my product. I sold him on helping him get to his destination in a better way.
And that's how our, my sales plan was with our guys was this is how we wanna operate on every level of our team. It went from closing 20, 30% to 60, 70%. And because people saw that we cared and we saw that we knew what we were doing and we had a great product and level and service that resonated with them that they wanted.
And we paid, we became a very, a much sought after level of service, as we grew into the business.
[00:34:58] Jeffrey Feldberg: So at the risk of oversimplifying it, I'm not gonna do you any justice at all, big picture wise, the narrative that I'm picking up on is you have this very curious and ambitious business owner, otherwise known as Alan who's in, incredibly competitive industry, but ask the question. How do I create my own blue ocean?
How can I not only differentiate myself, but do so in an area that's meaningful to people that when I explain the why not the what, in your words, they're like, oh my goodness. I didn't realize that the air I was breathing is affecting my health or it's having this impact or that impact. And you bootstrapped it along the way.
And you just grew and you became competitive. You outworked, outmaneuvered, didn't outspend your competition, but you outthought them with what you're doing through your resilience. And in the last five years before you had your liquidity event, things really clicked in all those years of time and effort.
It sounds like it just all gel together and you took off. When did you start thinking Alan, about a liquidity event? What was that like? Because most business owners, when you say, hey, do you think you're ever gonna sell the business? The typical response is one of two things. I can't imagine myself not being in the business, not having life outside the business.
So I don't know, or yeah, one day I will, but I'm not gonna worry about it right now. I'll know when I'm gonna know, and then I'll start doing that. But I suspect for you is a very different narrative going on there. So what does that sound like? And look like.
[00:36:28] Alan Wozniak: Yeah I pretty much had my nose to the grindstone the entire time. And what resonated was I would, I literally, if I said 200, it's probably on the way on the low side of private equity firms.
[00:36:41] Jeffrey Feldberg: help.
[00:36:43] Alan Wozniak: Approaching us and hey, we'd like to talk to you and I had some minimal offers and I'm like, no, I just, I love what I do and I want to continue doing it.
And, we're gonna just grow it internally and not externally. I had some M&As that approached me as well, that I looked at. Okay. What makes the most sense? And I realized that we're going into a new administration with our federal government and not knowing, good, bad, or indifferent, what that would bring.
I thought yeah maybe this is a time to close this chapter, open up another one. And I decided at that point, yes, this makes sense. Yes it looks good for the organization as a whole. It benefited everybody. Everybody got value out of it, the team that I had produced.
And it, it just made sense. Since I've only been gone a month and a half, but my new venture is very similar to not similar, but it takes the same threshold of a doctor of a patient, the health of a building. I'm looking at the health of a business.
[00:37:41] Jeffrey Feldberg: And Alan, what you had was so monumental, so tremendous, let's just pause there for a moment on the new business and just talk a little bit about the liquidity event and the one question, I speak with so many business owners and they say, Jeffrey, you know, I go to bed at night, praying that someone's gonna knock at the door and offer to buy the business. And Alan you know, and I know in a Deep Wealth with a nine-step roadmap that an unsolicited offer is absolutely the worst way to go. You had the discipline when you had those knocks and you said you had over 200 private equity, or either groups approaching you.
How did you deal with, hey, thank you. But no, thank you at this point in time. And ultimately when it did come time for your liquidity event, how did you begin that process?
[00:38:25] Alan Wozniak: I was busy running a business, so obviously I don't have time to respond to 200 plus P and E and if you're gonna, my thing is I need to be referred. I need to know somebody knows somebody who knows somebody kind of thing. I just, you know, ABC coming outta the blue, hey, we're interested in buying it.
Okay. I'm, that's great. But no, thank you. It has to be referred. I gotta feel comfortable and confident that person is legitimate and they're the right person to be talking with, even from a discovery mode level, But I just felt that at the time it made sense to talk to the organization that we did.
We did have a relationship with them for seven years prior, that was relatively successful. And I thought they have boots on the ground. They have a infrastructure that I didn't have that I needed to grow. Cuz we were growing at a rapid pace and I felt that would they, they would be able to help take us to that next level that I really wouldn't be able to do.
I could do it maybe 10 years down the road, but I couldn't do it instantaneously. And that's where the funding would've helped, bring us to that next level that I wanted to get to, but get there faster.
[00:39:35] Jeffrey Feldberg: And so let's pause there for just a moment because tremendous insights here. And what's interesting is a couple of things, when we start off as a cockroach startup, we're bootstrapping it. That's terrific. And as we both know, it takes you to a certain point. It likely takes you further than you ever would've gone.
Otherwise. But nothing's ever perfect. It does have its limitations and the business got to the point where you needed more capital to accelerate that growth, have a wider reach, make more of a difference. But what I like is along the way, you said the past seven or plus years, or so you began building a business relationship with the entity that ultimately came in and acquired you.
Did you know that at the time was that something deliberate? hey, this looks like a good company. Maybe one day we can do something more together or did that just organically happen?
[00:40:22] Alan Wozniak: It happened. I wanna say organically, I think they had an interest initially, back six, seven years ago, but the offer. And if it's sort of like your story, the offer was low and it wasn't at the level that I felt comfortable with. So I said, thank you very much, let's talk in five, eight years. You know, I'm gonna grow the company.
And so that stayed with me and they were very good people, very good company, very, I wanna say family, or even this fortune 500 kinds of company that end up buying this. But, it was a relationship that I was able to build over those years that made me feel more comfortable. That was the right group versus someone coming in cold here, I've got gazillions of dollars.
I wanna throw in, in your desk and let's do business. I had a relationship that I had built and that's what I felt most comfortable with versus any other firm that may have been interested or that was interested in the organization.
[00:41:18] Jeffrey Feldberg: And so you took it slow and steady. You were curious, you had those conversations, you got to know the other party. And it sounds like when it was time for you to start expanding and they were already interested, they were at the table, but you said, hey, in not so many words, not right now, not quite ready.
And when you were, you circled back and I'd imagine by that point, you'd probably spoken to enough outside parties that you knew what you wanted, what you didn't want, and you were able to craft a terrific liquidity event.
[00:41:45] Alan Wozniak: Absolutely. Yep.
[00:41:48] Jeffrey Feldberg: And quick question for you on that Alan, as you look back, hindsight's always 2020.
I know as an example, in my liquidity event, Alan, I made so many mistakes as terrific as it was. There are still so many mistakes and after all, how do you master something you've never done before? And when you look at your liquidity event, I would love to hear both sides of the coin were there one or two things that worked really well that you can share with our community, and were one or two things, perhaps that, hey, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have done that.
[00:42:18] Alan Wozniak: Yeah. I made it as we all do. If you're not making mistakes, you're not learning. And I made, hundreds and hundreds of mistakes over the years of things that just didn't work. I try them. Thinking, okay, let's go this route and didn't work and tried this didn't work.
But I wouldn't rest on that very long. Okay. I made a mistake. I failed. I'm moving on, getting back up, moving on. And I think that was really what helped push us to that point of becoming more a valuable company in the industry was the fact that we constantly searched for innovative things.
I've been called a visionary, I guess that's true because 30 years ago, who was thinking indoor equality, you know, 30 years later, very very, very few. And then on top of it to do the things that we did, having a strong building science presence, a strong lab, and a strong, and I didn't know COVID was gonna hit.
I knew that the indoor quality industry as a whole was significant, there were a few key players, but nowhere near, like it is today. I mean, everybody claims now they claim they, they do what they do and they're the best at indoor quality. But we were the pioneers. We were the first to the gate and I think that's really what resonated with most that was interested in us and all store clients.
They saw that we want you, we wanna partner with you. We want what you have because we heard other success stories. And that resonated with them.
[00:43:42] Jeffrey Feldberg: It's interesting. It's always so hard doing something different, getting out there first, but when you do it and you do it world-class, which you did. You're really the Victor. You have the rewards that come along with that and you're in the league of your own. Well, Alan, I'm wondering, let's talk a little bit out loud here for everyone to listen in, but it's just you and I, that's talking, we're really at a point here where we can just go on and on.
I mean, We want to hear about this new business you've shared what really worked in your liquidity event. And we could perhaps talk about the post Exit life. My thinking is, why don't we talk a little bit about the post Exit life. We'll wrap things up. We'll take this as a rain check to have another conversation of what you're doing now and how that parlays into the health area and really builds off of the business that you had.
What do you think does that work for you?
[00:44:29] Alan Wozniak: Absolutely. Yep.
[00:44:30] Jeffrey Feldberg: Terrific. So as we begin to wrap things up here, Alan, one question for you on the post Exit life. So nose to the grindstone, you're just flat out, you're building the business. You're bootstrapping, you're educating along the way, doing all these things you're saying no to everyone who wants to say yes, in terms of doing something with them, business grows.
You get to the point now where you know who your acquire is going to be, and you craft a deal with them. What's it like the day of, and the next day? So the deal's closed, the money's been wired. You've got that. And now it's a different owner in the business. How was that for you and how, because it's so fresh for you as of this recording, how are you dealing with that what's life after the deal like?
[00:45:14] Alan Wozniak: Well, That's a great question. When I discussed the M&A with the new owners, the objective was initially and I, in my due diligence I checked with other firms was they pretty much leave you alone. You're running the business as you were, in fact, that's their, in their vision, they state that, we buy companies and leave the entrepreneurial spirit, the culture, the branding, the market in place and let it grow. I came in the next day a lot richer than I was the day before.
[00:45:44] Jeffrey Feldberg: Yeah, it's always nice.
[00:45:46] Alan Wozniak: And I could have taken a month off and just sort chill out. I was at work the next day.
I love what I did?
There wasn't any, there really wasn't any oh my gosh, you know where it was business as usual. And that was an interesting, you know, normally when you sell a business, you're out and new guys are in it wasn't a way. I had signed a two year agreement with him and we end up going into a year with it.
And, but I think it really didn't, I didn't see any major differences. It was business as usual. And we continued, you know, obviously, we had some was some financial modifications and some safety modifications that occurred, relatively soon, but it wasn't like all of a sudden you see 30 people from corporate coming down and all of a sudden there's all new faces. I didn't lose one person.
Everybody stayed on, afterwards and actually before enduring and afterwards I had the initiative of hiring 50 people in this difficult marketplace, was very challenging. And so we were doing things that were just, we hadn't done before, even having career fair days, every single week in our corporate, we had a training room that sat 50 people that we bring people in.
We would, wine and dine them if you will and educate them is why we do what we do and why we are the best application for them. I told our staff and our recruiting team, I said, I want it to look like when somebody comes aboard that they've been recruited like a student-athlete in a football team or a basketball team, they get heavily recruited. They get wind and dying. They get their name on a document. In fact, my son, he was a division one basketball player, and he got recruited by North Carolina State and Florida international and a bunch of other universities.
And every time he would do a visit, they'd have his name on a placard.
The agenda was all laid out for him. Here's where you're gonna be. Here's what you're gonna do. His name was on the placard. And so I told our guys, I want this to be like, they're being recruited as a student athlete coming into the team, but they're being recruited as a player for our team.
I always refer to everybody as a teammate. So our new teammate. We're recruiting new teammates. And here I want when we have an agenda, it's a two-hour agenda. I want their name on that placard.
I want, when they do a two week training the post-hire training. I want their name on that placard.
I want them to feel that they're valued and they're going to be super and create a career, not just a job in an industry that nobody knew about. And it's nobody knew this. This was an excellent industry. And we were creating career opportunities for people coming into the equation.
So those are the, again, I just wanna be different. I want do, I'm not gonna do put an a in indeed and expect 50 people to walk in the door and sign up and, let's do this differently. We had balloons and we had drinks and foods.
We did something with it. And that was important to me. And I think it important to those who were being recruited that they felt, oh gosh, we, even, we even did. We had a basketball, indoor basketball court, and indoor workout area. And I had our recruits go around. They do the walkthrough of our lab and our HVAC lab that we have.
We have a large quarter million dollar lab HVAC systems that we train our people on. I said to our recruiter said, look, here's what I want you to do. I want you to, when you're doing the walkthrough, let's do a gift card of 25 bucks.
And the ones who can make the most out of five free throws, wanna give them a card.
Can you imagine going back home and that your wife says, hey, how'd the interview go? You can't believe it. I made, I shot five baskets and I made two and I won a gift card.
Who does that? it's different. You can take some of it as mundane as that we had the court, we had it.
So let's do something different. They're gonna remember that versus the other companies that they may have interviewed with like, okay, who that company you did the basketball. That's pretty cool. That must be pretty neat people. Let's go with that.
[00:49:39] Jeffrey Feldberg: Love that just loves how you just all the way through it's a trend you're curious. And how can you be different? How do you stand out? How do you do the why? And just make that difference? Well, Alan, why don't we put a pause on the conversation? This is gonna be a multipart series here that we're gonna be going down this rabbit hole of success with you and what you've done.
And we've just heard the first installment of how really in an incredibly generic and competitive. You stood out, built a company that took all the awards became victorious, had a terrific liquidity event. We're gonna put a pause on that. Future episodes will continue, but let's wrap things up. I have the privilege and the honor for every interview, Alan, of asking this one question as a bit of a thought experiment.
So let me put that out there for you. Think of the movie, Back to the Future. And in the movie, you have that magical DeLorean car that can take you to any point in time. So, Alan imagine now is tomorrow morning, you look outside your window and there it is. The DeLorean car. Not only is it curbside, but the door's open waiting for you to hop on in.
So you go in and you can now go to any point in your life, Alan, as a young child, a teenager adult, whatever the point in time would be. What are you telling yourself, Alan? What are you telling your younger self in terms of, Hey, Alan, do this, but don't do that. Or here's some life wisdom or some life lessons.
What does that sound like for you?
[00:51:06] Alan Wozniak: Great question. I would say that I didn't emphasize going through I was so, interested in business and I'm not sure why that I really didn't pay attention to school. Oh, I went, I got through school and I went through it, but I didn't pay attention to it. And I think it's critical that one does that.
And I would've, I would to, if I went back, I would think, okay, I'm gonna do, I'm gonna be the best student I can become.
My focus wasn't on the student side of it. I was more on maybe sports I literally would finish school, I'd go play sports and I'd go, I'd do my side job.
I'd work. And at that time we didn't have a lot of money as a family. So, you know, My money went to the family that I made as a part-time person, employment. But I'd say, really focus on the academics more, I've learned a lot more on the nonacademic side, going into business and learning, because they don't teach this in school period. They don't teach this. In fact it's the opposite, it's theoretical and non business. The business classes I went to me were the most intriguing because they were stories.
And they resonated me with me and I could, okay. If I did that, I could do this. And that's really what I would go back in the future with.
[00:52:22] Jeffrey Feldberg: Some terrific insights there and thank you for being vulnerable and just putting yourself out there and being so transparent. And Alan, as we wrap up this first part, what will be a many part dialogue and conversation, a heartfelt, thank you for taking part of your time. And being with us on the Deep Wealth Podcast.
And before we wrap it up though, one last question for you, and we'll put this in the show notes for any listener who would like to find you online, what would be the best place?
[00:52:48] Alan Wozniak: Probably my LinkedIn. I'm in the process of developing a website, but my LinkedIn account, probably would be the best to search my name, Alan Wozniak not to be confused with Steve Wozniak and you'll find me and you'll find what I do and why do it, why do, and then, probably by the next podcast, I'll have a website that will show what I'm literally actively pursuing.
And my new mission is gonna be helping others do what I learned of 30 years of business, helping mentor them, and helping coach them to get to their destination as well.
[00:53:23] Jeffrey Feldberg: That's a terrific cliff hanger that we're gonna put a pause on and to be continued. And you're the master of suspense, Alan. And so once again, as we officially put this one in the books, a heartfelt thank you. And as always, please stay healthy and safe.
[00:53:38] Alan Wozniak: Jeffrey. Thanks for having me.
[00:53:40] Sharon S.: The Deep Wealth Experience was definitely a game-changer for me.
[00:53:43] Lyn M.: This course is one of the best investments you will ever make because you will get an ROI of a hundred times that. Anybody who doesn't go through it will lose millions.
[00:53:53] Kam H.: If you don't have time for this program, you'll never have time for a successful liquidity
[00:53:58] Sharon S.: It was the best value of any business course I've ever taken. The money was very well spent.
[00:54:04] Lyn M.: Compared to when we first began, today I feel better prepared, but in some respects, may be less prepared, not because of the course, but because the course brought to light so many things that I thought we were on top of that we need to fix.
[00:54:20] Kam H.: I 100% believe there's never a great time for a business owner to allocate extra hours into his or her week or day. So it's an investment that will yield results today. I thought I will reap the benefit of this program in three to five years down the road. But as soon as I stepped forward into the program, my mind changed immediately.
[00:54:42] Sharon S.: There was so much value in the experience that the time I invested paid back so much for the energy that was expended.
[00:54:52] Lyn M.: The Deep Wealth Experience compared to other programs is the top. What we learned is very practical. Sometimes you learn stuff that it's great to learn, but you never use it. The stuff we learned from Deep Wealth Experience, I believe it's going to benefit us a boatload.
[00:55:06] Kam H.: I've done an executive MBA. I've worked for billion-dollar companies before. I've worked for smaller companies before I started my business. I've been running my business successfully now for getting close to a decade. We're on a growth trajectory. Reflecting back on the Deep Wealth, I knew less than 10% what I know now, maybe close to 1% even.
[00:55:24] Sharon S.: Hands down the best program in which I've ever participated. And we've done a lot of different things over the years. We've been in other mastermind groups, gone to many seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, read books. This was so different. I haven't had an experience that's anything close to this in all the years that we've been at this.
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[00:55:51] Kam H.: I would highly recommend it to any super busy business owner out there.
Deep Wealth is an accurate name for it. This program leads to deeper wealth and happier wealth, not just deeper wealth. I don't think there's a dollar value that could be associated with such an experience and knowledge that could be applied today and forever.
[00:56:09] Jeffrey Feldberg: Are you leaving millions on the table?
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