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An Entrepreneur’s Story

Dec 2, 2020

Listen to our interview with client, Bill Shaid, CEO of Paintech, as he shares his journey from bustling entrepreneur to a thoughtful, strategic business professional.


Lisë Stewart: Hello, my name is Lisë Stewart, and I'm the principal-in-charge of the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance. Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter. Since you're reading it, you know that our subject this time is all about the entrepreneurial stage of business. We know it's really an exciting time, and there's lots of great things happening, but we also know we need to prepare for that next stage of business. So today, I'm absolutely delighted to have invited one of my favorite clients, Bill Shaid, to join us and talk about his business, because he's very much in that entrepreneurial phase and yet, is still working toward that. Long-term sustainability. So Bill, welcome. Tell us a little bit about yourself, and a little bit about your business.
Bill Shaid: Hi Lisë. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me on this call today. So, a little bit about me and my family business. It started about a 100 years ago, was the original family union commercial painting business. I went out on my own about 25 years ago, started an open shop commercial painting contracting firm, based in Philadelphia. And, we've grown that business. Now we have multiple offices, we have multiple product and service offerings. So, we're in about six, or seven states right now. And, it's really been a lot of fun, or maybe I should say it was a lot of fun before the pandemic, and certainly the pandemic has made business interesting for all of us.

LS: Right. I can imagine. So, cast your mind back to about 25 years ago, I'm curious, what happened, what got you out on your own, and how did you form that vision for the business that you wanted to do, that strategic vision?
BS:Yeah. So, it's an interesting story. I would love to tell you, it's an amazing story, but it's more of an interesting story. So real quick, my wife and I get married, I come back from my honeymoon, in the family business, I wind up being fired, and have no job when I come back from my honeymoon. Ultimately, I went out on my own, and started my own business. I would love to say there was a great vision there, but I wound up starting my own business at that point. And, it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Now, looking back 25 years ago, I always wanted to be an open shop contractor. I was able to do that. And now obviously, as I said, grow the business into multiple states. So, it's a crazy story to say the least.

LS: Right. Well, sometimes adversity is kind of like the mother of invention. It seemed to work out for you. I'm just curious, how have you been able to develop that vision, and then also really focused on working on the business? A lot of business owners, particularly those in the entrepreneurial phase, find that they get stuck in that operational aspect of the business, always working in it. Instead of really stepping back, and working on it. How have you done that? How have you managed to get beyond those barriers to strategic planning?
BS:Great question Lisë. It's alluded me probably for the first 10, or 15 years of my business career. And, I joined two organizations. I joined Vestige, which is a great organization to help grow business leaders. And, I'm also in an industry specific peer group, this really allowed me to focus on working on my business, instead of in my business. Once I was able to see the benefits of that, our business really started to take off about five or six years ago, and we've grown probably about 70 percent over the last five years. It's so critically important, I think for all business leaders to make sure that they're working, spending enough time working on their business, instead of in their business.
LS: Oh, Bill. I think it's wonderful that you've been able to work with an organization like Vestige. In fact, I think a lot of times these peer group organizations can be great for helping you to think about the business in a different way, have a longer term focus. So tell me, how have you been able to involve your senior leadership team in strategic planning, strategy development, and so on? What does that like?
BS:Yeah, so great question. So about five, I'm going to say, years ago, after being in Vestige for a couple of years, we created a leadership team that helped us continue to build, and grow the business. Then subsequently to that, in the last, probably six, eight months, we've not only done quarterly leadership meetings, but now we're doing biweekly leadership meetings, in an attempt to break down the divisions and groups within my company to have us all work together. As they say, growing all in the same direction, and creating a common goal, and helping those leaders grow to hopefully one day, one of them may be can step in, and become the president.
LS: Ah, that is wonderful and in fact, that leads me really to kind of my last question, which is around succession planning. So tell me, we always encourage our business owners to think about integrating the succession planning in a business into that strategy development. So, I know you've done some of this. You want to tell us a little bit, about what you've done.
BS: Yeah, for sure. Because, this is how I come to you Lisë. The last year, you and I have been working together, and as well as some other people on your team, that it is a major focus of mine being the current president of the company, that I'm constantly working on succession planning. What I have found with your help is the most important thing, is that I need to continue to build and grow people.

We are in a huge people oriented business, and that I need to not only build my leadership team, and their abilities and capabilities, but the people that are underneath of them. If there is an opportunity for a family member to join the business, making sure that the family member enters the organization with the right expectations. So, with your help Lisë, it's been absolutely wonderful working on, thinking about succession planning. It's made it super easy to create that plan, and have multiple options within the plan, because you never know what's going to happen.
LS: I think it's wonderful that you've been so receptive to the whole idea of the succession planning. And, I also think that one of the things that's really nice about working together is you've also integrated, what we call the desk plan, into this. So, you've done some pretty significant risk management too, in order to be able to prepare for the future. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?
BS:Sure. You like to call it the desk plan. I like to call it the hit by the bus plan. And, I feel a hundred times better having created that, and going through the exercise with you, Lisë, doing the work to document everything, have everything in a place where God forbid I do get hit by the bus. We are prepared as an organization, and as a family to be able to put all the right pieces into place, whether it's insurance, whether it's who the next leader is. There are just so many different phases that the hit by the bus plan, or the desk plan as you professionals like to call it, that we've put into place to make sure that we're prepared for that next stage.
LS: Right. Yeah, you've done so much. It's interesting. One of our hurdles really, in working with family businesses is to make sure that they're doing the appropriate planning, that they really are thinking about the future, and they are managing risks; so that they can move from the world of just pure entrepreneurialism to having a strong and solid business that's going to sustain them, and they're going to sustain their family for the future. You've done a fantastic job. It's been such a joy to work with you. Thank you so much for joining us today.
BS: I have to say, thank you. You and your team have been absolutely wonderful, and have helped me get to where I am. So it's really, the thanks is to you.
LS: All right. Well, you just keep them coming. But, I really enjoyed the conversation. And, to all of you that are taking the time to read the newsletter, thank you. We are always here to help, and we certainly look forward to hearing from you. Take care.

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