How far can networking, numbers, and a focus on people take you? We welcome Ben Robles to To The Point! Ben is Co-Owner of John Henry’s Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning based in Lincoln, NE. While he took over ownership in 2019, Ben didn’t come up in the trades or have a history of turning a wrench. Instead, his path into the world of HVAC and plumbing came through networking, chance, and a pursuit of knowledge.
Ben’s journey started in numbers and accounting, something he was passionate about all the way back in high school. He got his degree in accounting from the University of Omaha, and started his career working for UPS through a management training program at the age of 21. Unfortunately, UPS started consolidating, forcing Ben to leave the accounting department and enter some different departments within the company. He had the full intention of circling back to get into corporate financing and accounting, but 7 years later with a new wife and child on the way, he realized his career wasn’t going in the direction he wanted.
Ben started applying for jobs, and a position opened up at a local plumbing and HVAC shop. After talking to the owner, he took a leap of faith and started his journey in the trades. 18 months later, Ben was loving his experience but still was thinking of more for his career. Coincidentally, his college roommate sent him a message on Facebook telling him that his company had just let their Controller go, and that Ben would be a great fit. Ben took the interview, and accepted the position 10 days later with John Henry’s in 2014. At this time, the company was just under 10MM. After his time growing the company and taking over as Co-Owner, Ben has helped John Henry’s reach over 30MM in the relatively small market of Lincoln!
Hitting 30MM in a smaller market is no easy feat, but Ben has proven it can be done. While his background in finance and accounting certainly helped on the operational side, he had plenty more to learn. Not everything is a number! Ben used his network and the network of great people in the trades to elevate his understanding of more than just the balance sheet. He credits organizations such as Nexstar and people like Wyatt Hepworth for helping him immensely in this endeavor. Wyatt specifically imparted the wisdom of focusing on people onto Ben. Developing relationships and aligning yourself with people that will push you to be better each day is a surefire path to success.
Ben doesn’t have the natural mechanical talent of a technician, as a numbers guy. He points out that while numbers are not that much fun, they certainly are still critical. Perhaps more importantly, however, is learning things from others and surrounding himself with people who will help him and the business grow.
Of course, the numbers are still fundamental to understanding if you’re going to successfully grow your operation. Ben uses Service Titan as one of his key tools, and looks at more than simply revenue. The top line doesn’t tell the whole story! He’s consistently and frequently assessing metrics like call volume, call booking percentages, and marketing spend. In addition, Ben and his team get granular with their data – looking at numbers broken down into categories such as trade or residential vs. commercial and measuring it all against their daily, monthly, and annual revenue goals. As echoed by many of our previous guests on the podcasts, you simply must have a high fidelity of the numbers in your business.
Ben may be passionate about the numbers, but even more so his people. When visiting Wyatt Hepworth’s shop (Any Hour Services) over a decade ago, something Wyatt was speaking about resonated with Ben. It’s the idea that when you pour into people, the possibilities are limitless. You may have other competitors in business, but you’re always going to be your own biggest competitor. When you’re genuine and pour into your people, big things happen. Make that investment, hold them accountable, and give them a path forward. That’s how Ben and John Henry’s has been able to make that huge leap to over 30MM!