Lowe’s Installer to CEO
I started everyday like all other Lowe’s installers. I woke up early to shower and grab one of the many blue Lowe’s installer shirts. I prefer to keep the clean shirts for FSM meetings or details. After getting dressed I dread the first phone call of the day because I know my phone won’t stop ringing until later in the evening. As I prepare to tackle the heat will a full schedule of 3 installs and 4 details, I have to remind myself how hard I have worked to provide a great life for my family. I usually hook up my trailer around 7:00 a.m. and then make my daughter breakfast as I am on the phone with stores constantly wanting updates. I remind the install office that my office staff arrive at 8:00 a.m. and will have that information, as I have reminded them everyday for the past 12 years. After making my daughter breakfast we hop in the truck at 7:20 a.m. on the dot every morning. I drop her off at her private school as all the other moms are watching me circle the front of the school with a large 16ft trailer in tow. I try to find a spot somewhere between the BMW’s and the Mercedes to park as I give her a big kiss and hug as she walks into school. I then proceed slowly back to my truck and trailer proud to wear my Lowe’s installer shirt as I start my day. What most of these parents don’t realize is that I ran a large installation company with 28 stores under my belt and 25-30 installers at any given time. Lowe’s in 2016 paid vendor number 65709 1.8 million dollars to wake up everyday and install a great product. As time went on I saw the need to help fellow installers in the field and produce something that would automate their office to give them their family time back. Thus Surge1 was born.
Sitting around a table at a local Steak house we started discussions on a solution to help my growing Lowe’s Business. We bounced some ideas back and forth and after a few hundred flow charts we had a basic idea. Lets start with reading a scanned PO because the auto fax rarely gets us all the documents. We got our parsing routine to 95% then started on the digital COC documents. From there we created the installer portal with all digital forms. We made the installer portal easy to navigate for every installer on every device. Then we created the vendor dashboard where one simple screen will show you the status of every job that is currently assigned to you. After we completed these simple tasks we rolled it out to my installers to beta test and man we were stunned. My installers gave me amazing feedback and we implemented every change within a few months and they loved it. We were so excited that we started selling it to other categories. My friends with Pro-Plumbing in Nashville were one of the first and they had a lot of ideas that made Surge1 even better. We created custom detail sheets and added route optimization and 1 click invoicing. Since then we have branched out to every category that Lowe’s installs. Our latest accomplishment was the flooring category. That was an animal to tackle and we had a great time working with a large flooring vendor to help make their lives easier. While tackling the flooring solution we partnered with other companies such as FloorSoft, Rollmaster, and Freshbooks. We designed our own quickbooks integration as well as an easy upload of your Loweslink payments. We connected all the dots to the point that selling it was the easiest thing I have ever done. People are blown away with the simplicity and ease of use.
This is our signature dashboard that is easy to read and navigate. Our Projects tab in the install bucket groups all your PSI PO’s into their own project automatically. We have enjoyed working with PSI vendors around the country to make a simple solution. We can easily schedule each PO in a project and our system automatically communicates schedule dates to CPO or store.
As I have traveled the country with my trusted Mac Book by my side. I have met some awesome people that lived just like I did as an installer. I had a plumbing company in Pensacola call me the other day to thank me for solution as it has saved them countless hours of office admin. I have found that plumbing companies have the lowest average ticket on installations and thus have to schedule to most installs 6-8 per day to make a decent check. A million dollar plumbing company handles 800-1000 PO’s a month. That is a lot of PO’s for the money. Our drag and drop scheduling is the perfect fit for plumbing and appliance companies nation wide. Drag and drop scheduling is exactly what it sounds like. Once you drag the PO to the installer and drop it on a time slot then CPO or store is automatically notified via email. The paperwork is also transferred on the installers app automatically every time something is scheduled. This also acts as a digital pay sheet for the installer. We can do percentage of the PO to calculate pay or a menu of prices that we load in by item number.
You will have to sit down for this paragraph. Surge1 can text a link for customers to come online and schedule themselves. Yeah, I know its hard to comprehend. This is something I can show you on our Webinars every Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. CST. Here is the link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/2630622634728183819
As I start this new chapter of my life as CEO, I am reminded how I got here. I think about all the details I have done. I remember wrecking my truck in Kentucky and taking an uber to the customers house so I would not be late. I then got back in the uber after my measure and booked the second leg of my trip back to my truck to wait on the police for a report. Or the one time that my trailer tire passed me on the interstate going down I-65 in Nashville. I retrieved the tire and made a temporary nut out of an old door threshold to hold my trailer tire on and limped it back home to replace the hub. I have a lot of crazy stories after 13 years as an installer and vendor. The houses I wanted to remember being in and the houses I don’t want to remember. All the days it started out sunny and the second I took the french door out the rain started falling. The late nights replacing rotten subfloor with floor joist repair in the middle of winter to get the job done. I will never forget how hot it is in the middle of summer installing the bottom closer bracket of a Pella select storm door and the intense heat as it comes through the glass on the back of a deck facing southwest. All the days I woke up and it was snowing just to go back inside and layer up for a cold day of installations. We all have our stories and we all continue to make more daily. I just wanted to give some fresh air in an industry that had nothing. We managed our business the best we could and it has cost us dearly in family time. I can change that with Surge1 software. Since our inception we are not had a single cancellation and our product just keeps getting better with all the ideas that people from around the country bring to us.
My life as CEO has been on heck of a ride. I live in hotels and travel the country. I have met some awesome people along the way to help get me where I am. I wouldn’t change the opportunity for the world. I never thought my life would take so many paths and turns. My degree is Aerospace seems like a distant memory these days. Installing doors and windows is a skill that I am good at and Lowe’s gave me the opportunity to grow to the largest millwork provider in Tennessee. As I laid down the hammer and prybar for a laptop and iPad, I still miss the the challenge of installing daily. I miss trying to squeeze caulk out of tube in the middle of winter and how bad my hand hurt afterwards. I didn’t create a product that I thought would work, I created a product that I know works. I have been my own beta tester and provided everyday solutions for the guys in the field. So CEO life has many roles as research and development, sales, HR, accountant, negotiator, attorney, pilot, driver, and logistics coordinator.
I look forward to making more memories with installers around the country. I have a busy few months getting the pipeline cleared out with onboarding clients. I hope this article has given your some insight and background into our solution for Lowe’s installers. I am always a phone call away if you want to talk about industry solutions in the future, its one of my favorite topics to discuss. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the pictures of our initial startup.