Every month for the last 2 years we’ve featured a Flow Tech employee. We believe it’s important for our customers, vendors and business associates to get to know the people they work with on a regular basis. The only problem with producing employee features for a small business on a monthly frequency is you can only do so many before you run out of new employees to highlight. Lucky for you, we’ve saved the best for last. We hope you enjoy today’s featured employee – our fearless leader, Rich Harper!
Rich took ownership of the decade-old Flow Tech in 1998. At that point there were only 4 employees including himself, and the main, and really only, product line was ABB variable frequency drives. Luckily, Rich possessed the 2 vital elements needed when you own a business. He had a vision and the drive/persistence to achieve it. Built on the philosophy of serving the client first and never walking away from a project, Flow Tech has grown consistently under Rich’s direction.
Today Flow Tech has grown to 22 full-time employees and 1 consultant, and now represents 14 manufacturers. With help from our finance and HR personnel, Rich has provided Flow Tech employees with competitive benefits such as paid time off, 401k retirement saving options, Health insurance and Aflac insurance options.
All 23 of us thank our lucky stars to have Rich as our leader! Rich has the unusual, yet valuable personality trait combination of being an assertive/ambitious salesman and business owner all while having empathy for his employees’ personal lives and happiness. Rich has mastered the rare work-home life balance and encourages us to do the same. He expects the work to get done and be done well, but also expects you to make it to your kid’s recital at 3:oo PM.
Not only does he run the company, he also runs his own projects. That’s right, Rich still hits the pavement and is an active Sales Engineer within our team. He mainly represents our ABB, M.K. Plastics and Phoenix Controls product lines, however, he’s been known to sell others as well. But enough about what we have to say about Rich, let’s hear what he has to say about himself…
1. What made you decide to pursue a sales career?
I was always good at selling candy bars and light bulbs for whatever little league team I was playing on. My Dad was in sales and liked it, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
2. What made you decide to go into the construction/HVAC industry?
Working in the construction industry was my first job after graduating from college. It sort of “picked me” vs me picking the construction industry. This being said, I’ve enjoyed being a part of successful building projects where I can actually see the “fruits of my labor” when the project is complete.
3. How many years have you been in the industry?
I’ve been in the industry since 1981.
4. What do you like best about working in this industry?
You can see what you’ve accomplished after the project is complete.
5. What other industries have you worked in, if any?
No other industries.
6. What University did you attend?
I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, and my MBA from Southern Methodists University.
7. What made you decide to purchase Flow Tech and become a business owner?
I was sick and tired of the big company bureaucracy and wanted to be more in control of my own destiny. Plus, I didn’t want to move all over the country to advance up the corporate ladder. I was at a point in my life where I was ready to take a risk and give small business ownership a shot.
8. Did you have a mentor, foreman, or instructor that helped you, or made an impact on your devleping career? If so, who was it and how did they help you?
My high school coache who preached, “Never give up.” and my parents who preached, “Don’t be a jerk. Don’t hang out with jerks. Do the right thing.”
9. If you could give advice to people looking to pursue a career in sales/HVAC/construction what would it be?
- Have thick skin.
- Learn how to handle rejection.
- Do what you say you are going to do.
- Document what your say your are going to do and document what you did.
- Follow up, follow up, follow up.
- Believe in your products and services.
- Figure out how to live a balanced life.
- Be humble in your victories.
- Never ever quit.
10. What are your hobbies, or what do you like to do in your free time?
- Coaching my kids
- Going to my kids sporting events
- Hiking with my family and my dogs
- Hanging out with my wife
11. If you could be a super hero who would you be and why?
Superman – being able to fly around and use supernatural powers would help solve my constant struggle of not having enough time to do all the things I want to do. Plus, I like the outfit.
12. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
At this stage in my life, anywhere with decent weather, a beach, a great book, a comfy chair and an awesome IPA.
13. If you could have dinner with one person alive or deceased who would it be, where would you go and why would you choose them?
That’s tough to choose just one person, so I’ll choose a few:
- The love of my life, my wife Patti.
- My parents, the most influential people who shaped me into who I am.
- My brother Tom, who was the best athlete I have ever had the pleasure of playing with, or against, yet did not get to realize his true potential due to a bout with cancer.
- Willie Mays, my childhood sports idol.
14. Any additional comments or unique things you’d like us to know?
I thank my lucky stars every day that I am fortunate enough to work with great people who are as passionate about what they do as I have been. I was brought up in a large family and am now enjoying the pleasure of shaping my own kids’ lives.
15. This wasn’t a question for Rich, but we thought you’d get a kick out of what we like to refer to as Rich-isms (classic phrases/ words of advice from Rich).
- We do A to Z and everything in between.
- Go get an order!
- Go sell something!
- Work your magic.
- Let’s meet!
- Opportunity Knocks
- I’ll be quite honest with you (insert name).
- Who’s phone is ringing?
- Howdy, howdy!
- The devil is in the details.
- I don’t know what I don’t know.
It takes an organized person with an excellent memory to handle all the things Rich does on a weekly basis. We may like to poke fun at him, but we’re all very grateful to have a dedicated, intelligent and kind president to lead our company. Thank you Rich for all that you do!
In the intro we mentioned that this is the last “new” employee feature of the month, not to worry though, our marketing director has something up her sleeve to fill the void on future employee features. We’ll also feature our 2 new hires once they’re more acclimated to the company. In the mean time feel free to catch up on our past employee features. Contact us, or visit our website to learn more about us and the products we represent. You can always stay informed by connecting with us social media too: Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.