Anyone who has started their own company will tell you that there are many important decisions that dictate how successful your business will be. And today’s guest is no different.
Matt Glynn was the proud owner of Glynn Electric for over 30 years, serving residents in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. At its peak, Glynn Electric employed over 250 people and had a reputation for delivering quality and reliable service for decades.
In today’s episode, Matt Glynn shares the factors that led to decades of success and the legacy he left behind after exiting his business. You’ll hear how his success may not have been possible without the help and support of his wife, how being a great judge of character when hiring staff was tremendously important, and his advice for new business owners who are on their own entrepreneurial journey.
In this podcast discussion, you’ll learn:
- The importance of being risk averse as a business owner.
- How having a supportive spouse/partner was instrumental in growing the business.
- How micromanagement can be a deterrent to growth in your business.
- Why it’s critical to be a good judge of character when it comes to hiring staff with integrity.
- How Glynn Electric’s education and training program was monumental in their growth and success.
- When a business owner should start thinking about an exit plan.
- The great work Matt is doing with the Joshua Glynn Memorial Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club in Plymouth.
- “If you’re a leader, you have to be willing, able to make a decision quickly. And sometimes, it’s the wrong decision, but a leader will take the risk, and given all the information, make that decision.” – Matt Glynn
- “When you start your own company, you have to have faith in yourself. If you don’t have faith that you can do this, don’t do it.” – Matt Glynn
- “My suggestion to anyone who starts their own business, when you hit the 10-year point, start planning because there are so many ways to exit a business.” – Matt Glynn
- Glynn Electric
- Joshua Glynn Memorial Foundation
- SHP’s Business Succession Planning Resources
- National Honor Society
- Cape Cod Hospital
- Justin Amico
- Map Academy
- Boys & Girls Club of Plymouth
- Cape Cod Healthcare
Matthew Peck: Welcome everyone to another edition of SHP Financial’s Retirement Road Map podcast. I’ll be your host today, Matthew Peck. And thank you, I should say, for joining us. Today, we have sort of a very special guest because have you ever wondered what it was like to start your own business? Have you ever toiled at a big business and feeling like you were just a number in some big company and always thought about what would it be like to start my own? Oh, the difficulties and the challenges be about being my own boss and growing my company in my own vision and seeing it actually come into effect.
Well, if that type of information, that type of idea and experience interests you, well, then you will enjoy the next 30 to 45 minutes because I am joined or we are joined by Matt Glynn. Now, here are the stats, my friends, Matt Glynn started the business himself. He went from zero, or I should say one employee, and we’ll sort of get into who are the original.
Matt Glynn: Don’t forget my wife.
Matthew Peck: We’ll talk about the original boots on the ground from basically 0 to 300 employees. We are talking about a gross revenue annually of over $50 million in gross revenue, covering all of the six New England states. I mean, impressive is an understatement. And we are all honored and humbled to have Matt Glynn of Glynn Electric joining the podcast. And again, thank you so much for joining us, Matt.
Matt Glynn: Well, thank you for that warm welcome.
Matthew Peck: I practiced.
Matt Glynn: I like to meet that guy. Sounds like a great guy.
Matthew Peck: Right, absolutely. So, what we’ll do, I mean, Evan’s here. We have a mirror that we pull out to say, “Hey, I’m that guy,” which is sort of like, I will start there. I mean, because I sort of want to begin, obviously, at the beginning, too. But even when I say those statistics, even when I say those facts, do you still believe it? Do you still say, “Wow, I did that”? Or I was curious if there’s disbelief or if there’s more like, “Nope, you have all the battle scars to show that you did it.” So, I guess, kind of how is your mindset being all those things you did accomplish?
Matt Glynn: I think it’s probably a little unbelievable when you think about it. I was not qualified to do that. Many times, I find myself in a situation where I was trying to figure things out and was fortunate I had good guidance, I had good help, I had people I could count on to help me get through it. And I made a lot of not-so-great decisions going through it, and some I wish I had known about the outcome in the other side and some turned out okay in the other side. But sometimes when I look back at it, I think, “Wow, right, that company performed way beyond my expectations or my abilities.”
Matthew Peck: So, let’s go back to that then. Let’s go back to sort of day one. And was it more, “Okay, hey, I can’t wait to start a business and build a successful business”? Or was it more, “Okay, hey, I just need a job and let me start working for myself”? I mean, kind of how did we initially, the wheels get rolling?
Matt Glynn: Well, even at a young age, I’ve been someone that was gifted in leadership. I could motivate people. And honestly, when I look back at it, I think it’s because I care about people. And I didn’t know it at the time, even as a teenager growing up. And my dad was in the Navy when my mom had me and he was deployed a lot. And my mom, I became her right-hand man so I learned early. And then I had four brothers and sisters and I was kind of in control in stuff.
So, I knew even early that I was not– and this is kind of the key if you’re a leader, you have to be willing, able to make a decision quickly. And sometimes, it’s the wrong decision, but a leader will make the risk, and given all the information, make that decision. And I knew even early that I could do that well.
So, growing up, I went to Cardinal Spellman High School in Brockton. I grew up in a very small town called Hanson, which we used to go to the big city called Whitman. So, that’s how bad, that’s how small Hanson was. And at Spellman, I had some great teachers, great coaches. I had a lot of nuns that were really instrumental in giving me training for life. And that became further and further into the walk.
And then, after high school, I went to the Naval Academy Prep School. My brother, Michael, who was a year behind me, he was the smart one in the family. He was on the National Honor Society, captain of the basketball team, captain of the baseball team, all-star football. And I was just Matt.
Matthew Peck: Nothing wrong with being just Matt, I’m also another fellow, Matt. So, I just want to make sure that we do have solidarity there.
Matt Glynn: Thank you. I’ll take that moniker. So, we both ended up at the Naval Academy at the same time, and after two years, I decided that I just didn’t like it. There was too much structure. They didn’t value independence. They wanted everyone to be the same. And so, I left. And my father was extremely angry with me. And I had to move to Hawaii because I couldn’t come home.
Matthew Peck: I guess it’s not a bad place to– so, my goodness. So, how long did you live in Hawaii for?
Matt Glynn: Almost a year. I lived on the beach and then I met someone who let me live on their porch, lanai, as they call it. And I would drive jitneys, which is the three-wheel bicycles with the seat in the back. And I would make the money that I needed to pay my bills.
Matthew Peck: Pay your bills, right, absolutely.
Matt Glynn: And then I would try to find some tourists that I could hang out with for the rest of the day. And then after being there almost a year, I remember, I said, “I can’t do this for the rest of my life.” So, I started looking around and I was offered two jobs. One was a carnival hacker. “Hurry, hurry, hurry, step right up.”
Matthew Peck: Okay. So, you’re going to be a barker, I believe. I always loved the term, like barker.
Matt Glynn: Yeah, carnival barker, not a hacker. Right. That’s a computer hacker. And the other job I was offered was, I think it was called the pakalolo, which is a Hawaiian cowboy because the second largest branch in the United States was in Hawaii, and I had met the people, so they offered me a job working as a cowboy.
Matthew Peck: Okay, so literally, either a carnival barker or a Hawaiian cowboy?
Matt Glynn: Correct.
Matthew Peck: Okay. All right. But apparently, you chose option C, which was to grow an electrician business or both commercial and residential from 0 to 300.
Matt Glynn: Oh, yeah.
Matthew Peck: Okay, all right.
Matt Glynn: I know this is way too long of a story that you don’t really care about. However, I flew to California. I was playing football on the beach and I blew my knee out. So, I had to take a bus, a Greyhound bus from L.A. to Boston with a cast on my leg. And you think that you go four days driving, you stop in every little, teeny, tiny town along the way, and people get on with goats and chickens and pigs and move two stops and then they get off. So, it was really interesting.
Matthew Peck: An amazing journey right there. I mean, heck, that’s a podcast alone, probably about two or three months on a Greyhound bus going from L.A. to Boston.
Matt Glynn: That was awful. Awful. And I had to get help to go to the bathroom because they had that little tiny bathroom. And you have to stick your leg outside. You can’t close the door. So, somebody had to hold up a towel. Yeah, it was kind of interesting. But came back here, got a job as a computer programmer, and I hated it. I started selling swimming pools in Brockton and was doing pretty well. I actually set the record for the most aboveground pools that year.
Matthew Peck: Okay. So, certainly, we’re seeing early signs of, and you said, interestingly enough, about the leadership, which I’m certainly going to get back to, which is the idea of making quick decisions. But back to the idea of selling pools, obviously, we’re finding early success there and it’s also just connecting with people. I mean, so I’m not sure if that was also something that you felt or thought that you had in you was the ability to just obviously reach different levels with different people. And I think that has to go with whether it’s success or sales or at least convincing, right?
Matt Glynn: Anyway, I got a job as a computer programmer. I hated it. I like to work in the field. I like working with my hands. And I met my wife, my future wife at the time, and I realized I couldn’t support a family selling swimming pools. And my dad was an electrician and he got me into the trades and I went to four years and got my license and decided that I wanted to start my own company.
Matthew Peck: Okay. So, I’ll pause there. So, when you said that you want to start your own company, was it because you saw this amazing opportunity in the sense of saying, “Oh my goodness, here is an industry that could be disrupted”? Or was it more simple in the sense of, “Hey, I just need to pay my bills and I like my independence”?
Matt Glynn: I’d have to say it was probably a little bit of hubris, maybe. I just thought I could do better at it than most people. I saw the flaws that they did. I saw the lack of leadership, the lack of integrity, the lack of caring about customers and employees. And my son was born on October 7, 1985, and he was three months old. And I came home and I told my wife, “I quit my job. I’m starting my own company.” And she was like, “Ah.” She was not happy. But she backed me from the minute I did that.
Matthew Peck: Really, yeah.
Matt Glynn: That’s important. I mean, I’ve said that to a number of people who’ve come to me to ask for advice about starting their own business. And one of the things that’s real important is you have to be risk averse because when you have your own company, everything you own is on the line every single day. And the more people you have, the riskier it is because you can’t– especially in a service business because your people are out on the road all the time and a mistake could really hurt. And you literally have to be able to sleep at night knowing that that risk is there, as does your wife.
Matthew Peck: She is certainly a partner spouse, right? That’s a partner in it. And let me kind of pick up on two things which I find fascinating mainly because of the similarities. One is I always joke around with– same idea, with people, with clients that sometimes ask me or Derek or Keith the same question about how we started SHP. And I always tell people that we’re just a little bit crazy. I feel like sometimes, business owners need to be just a little bit crazy, a bit too crazy because if you’re too crazy, then nothing happens. But you’re crazy enough to think that I can do this better. And so, you’re a little bit demented about I can start a financial planning business that’s better than any other ones. And if any type of reason sort of gets in there, it becomes, oh, gosh, that’s too hard. But if you’re, again, just a little crazy enough, then you’re able to do it.
And then the other thing, I’ll jump outside of the road map, but the other thing I’ll jump back to, too, is the importance of, again, a great partner. My wife at the time was working at Children’s Hospital. And I was probably, again, when I first started SHP, almost like paycheck to paycheck or client decline or sale to sale. And because she was there and because she was still working at that time, that sort of helped us get by, at least personally speaking at the very early stage of SHP. So, I said, having that spouse there, having that companion is also critical, I mean, at least in our experiences.
Matt Glynn: Absolutely.
Matthew Peck: I know. Okay, so…
Matt Glynn: I remember, I’d say, “How much money do you need this week to pay the bills?” And she’d say, “$139.13.” And that’s what I would take out of the account that week, so yeah.
Matthew Peck: So, now, we start doing it ourselves. Was it a gradual growth? Or did you find that you were able to go from 0 to 10 to 20 to 30? Did it happen faster than you anticipated? Or was it just slowly but surely, like stacking bricks?
Matt Glynn: So, that brings you to one of the questions that you sent me is what do I wish somebody had told me about when I started this company? And every industry and they’re all different and it takes a while to figure it out, has what I call glass ceilings. So, to grow to a certain level, you have to be able to break through that ceiling and you have to be prepared for that before you break through or you’ll fail. And if you fail at that, it’s a lot harder to get through, number one.
And number two is, like I said, you have to identify that for each business, like in the electrical business, $100,000 is a glass ceiling, and then actually 50 is the first one and then 100,000, and then it becomes 250,000, then it’s a million, and then it’s 5 million, then it’s 10 million, then it’s 25 million and 50 million. Every single time you do that, it’s a whole ‘nother level of something – management, people, skills, whatever it is. And if you identify that before you do it, you’re going to do it successfully. And when you get there and you crash through that, another one with single jobs, we couldn’t get a million-dollar electrical job until we did a million-dollar electrical job.
Matthew Peck: It’s almost like to a certain extent, the chicken and the egg. It’s like, I was going to kick people out of college. They say, “I’m sorry, sir, we can’t hire you. You have no experience.” It’s like, “Well, how do I have experience until I work?”
Matt Glynn: Yeah, you’re right.
Matthew Peck: So, that’s interesting. So, these million-dollar jobs, you’d have to get there in order to get there.
Matt Glynn: Correct. And you have to be able to talk somebody into giving you a shot at it. And you can’t fail, no matter what, because if you try to do– the electrical is a million-dollar electrical job, and the first one we ever did was, at Cape Cod Hospital, we did the front edition and revised the service in the back. And I talked somebody into doing it and we did it and we did it well.
And after that, it was nothing. To get another million-dollar one, multi-million was another glass ceiling. If you could do a million, we think you could do a $2 million job, but we’re not sure. So, once you pass that, like we did a $10 million electrical job.
Matthew Peck: But now, then to sort of tie two things together, would that be sort of– and you learned it, right? So, we will love that question for all of our listeners who always love to ask people, okay, what do they wish they knew back then that they know now? And so, if it’s the idea of preparing yourselves for these glass ceilings, was that something that, again, you had to learn and you got better at where, okay, having the management or having the employees or the teammates in place? And so, did you almost feel like with each, whether it’s 50 and then the 250 and then the 1 million and the 10 million, those ceilings, did you just progressively get better as you went through each and every ceiling?
Matt Glynn: You almost have to reinvent, I’m not going to say the company, but you have to reinvent yourself every time you get to that. To do more than $50,000 a year, I had to be able to hire someone and trust somebody. And if I was wiring this room for you and I put five electricians in here, five of us are going to do it differently. But it’s all right, it all works. And that’s what you have to learn. I had to know that maybe my way wasn’t always the best way. But if their way worked, maybe that was the best way. So, I had to learn to give people the ability to make decisions and not criticize them.
Matthew Peck: Okay. So, which is actually sort of one of those questions, too, is the fact of the– was that difficult to delegate more? So, as most business owners or self-employed guys and gals, sometimes relinquishing control, like you’re talking about, is very difficult because it does require trust and it does require, you go from this– I love how you put it, like sort of reinventing yourself, where you go from a micromanager, I would say, to now a manager, right? We’re now, okay, looking over every, like, what about this? What about that? And you have to sort of step back and just say, “Okay, hey, they know what they’re doing.”
And so, was that a difficult transition for you or a difficult reinvention? And similarly, did it get easier, though, through time? Or do you feel like almost with each ceiling, there was a new moment that you had to have this almost aha moment to say, “Okay, oh, okay, this is what I need to do now”?
Matt Glynn: Yes, both. I remember, I was for a while– actually, I still do this, I would get, I’m going to say, hired but really wasn’t because a lot of the times when I was doing this, it was for friends. And Glynn Electric had steady growth. That’s not true. Sometimes, it has to be quicker because to break that barrier, you have to be prepared for it. But I would come in and I would assess friends of mine that were owning their own company and they would say, “Why can’t I grow? What’s wrong?” And what I found out, 95% of the time, it was the person in charge was a micromanager, couldn’t let it go. And their company will only grow to the capacity that they have.
Matthew Peck: Right. Because they’re unwilling to expand boundaries or let other people do the work so that they can do other work themselves or more business development work or whatever that may be.
Matt Glynn: And humility is a hard part of that. I mean, one of the things that I learned early is I’m not the smartest person in the room. Typically, the smartest person in the room is somebody I hired for that role. And I would learn, like my brother came on as my vice president. He started off as just– actually, even before that, my mom was my bookkeeper, and I was 50 years old and I’d have to say, “Hey, mom, can I have some money?” And if she wasn’t in a good mood, I didn’t get it. So, I learned that.
Matthew Peck: Yeah. So, there really was a family affair to start.
Matt Glynn: My wife and I started it. And we quickly found out that neither one of us was very good at accounting and that it didn’t bode well. We paid fines to the IRS, we paid finance fees for materials we purchased, and we never missed a payroll in 35 years. So, that was a good thing, but we just learned what we didn’t know.
Matthew Peck: Well, actually, let me pick that up because another question I was going to ask was, were there mentors? Do you feel that there were people that helped you during this transition besides obviously, support and your wife and whatnot, and others that you could talk to? But were there any mentors that you can think of in the industry that really did sort of show you the way or at least encourage you, at least?
Matt Glynn: Yes, many of them. And fortunately, my wife is an extremely good judge of character. And she would help me discern who was helping me out of sheer willingness to help and be a good person or those that were trying to do it for their own benefit. And when I was in charge of deciding that, I made too many mistakes. I hired the wrong people or I would. So, a lot of times, I would ask her just to sit in on the interview just to help me judge if– get her vibe, if you will. She was really good at reading people’s hearts and knowing who they were.
And one of the things I learned early is faith, integrity, and trust. They’re all the same, but they’re all different. And you have to change it as you go. When you start your own company, you have to have faith in yourself. If you don’t have the faith that you can do this, don’t do it. And then later on, what happened as you know, we’ve talked about this before, I’m a born-again Christian, so I ended up with faith in Jesus and I would go to him and get business plans. So, he became kind of a mentor. And he would actually give you plans that I wrote down and people would be like, “That’s amazing.” So, that faith has to change, too.
And it also means having faith in the people you’ve hired. And integrity is internal, of course. But if I hire you, you guys have an incredible amount of integrity and it’s something that I look at that I consider more important than anything else. And then you have to trust the people. And I’m talking about employees, I’m talking about customers, I’m talking about lenders, all that stuff together.
And when you get to that point, then you can start to trust each other and I know that you’re in there. Maybe there’s something in it for you, but you’re also looking out for my goodwill as well as an employee, or you know he’s going to do this much better because he wants his job to be secure to make more money once they advance. However, he’s doing it because he’s helping the company.
Matthew Peck: Well, as I say, I always love that line about integrity, about how integrity is what you do when no one’s watching, right? Well, actually, then it will kind of riff off each and then I always love that, as I said, they all kind of really interrelate because then you have trust and it’s like, okay, well, in order for me to entrust that this guy or gal has integrity, I have to be able to trust them and then to show it, then I have to be aware of it and have faith that the person I’m going to hire is going to be that individual.
I mean, during our hiring process, it boils down to that being a good judge of character, being able to sort of see through, as you mentioned, Karen sees in her heart in the sense of like, is that person a good person? Because everyone will sort of puff themselves up during an interview and say, “Oh, I’ll do this and I’ll do that.” And then, three, six, nine months into it, wait, that guy is not saying what he said he was going to do, or just he was not the person I thought he was, or he or she. So, I mean…
Matt Glynn: Like I said, they’re related, but they’re different. If you have integrity, that doesn’t mean I’m going to trust you because maybe, you don’t have the experience yet or the knowledge, which is you can almost train anyone to do anything with the proper training if they have the aptitude. I’m not.
Matthew Peck: You’re right, yeah.
Matt Glynn: So, I can train. I mean, our education program was the best in New England, and it was something that was copied in other states around the country with our ELIP program and our apprentice program, our form and training program, and then our PM training program. We would train people our way up. However, I would learn that you have integrity, so I’m going to give you some trust, but maybe that’s not your bailiwick yet. So, I’m not going to trust you for that, but I’m going to help you get to that level. And then if you’re honest, then I know you’re going to try hard at it. But they kind of work together, but they tie together.
Matthew Peck: Right. No, absolutely. And then, actually, go back to the education part of it, do you feel that that was sort of your cutting edge or what made you the most competitive and you’re able to grow? Was it an emphasis on education? Was it an emphasis on customer service? Was there one particular area? Was it the hiring of the people that you did have faith in and then eventually trust and did have integrity? I mean, if you could put your finger on one or two sort of campaigns or one or two things that made Glynn Electric as successful as it was.
Matt Glynn: I would say probably our education program was key. It’s something that has been important to me in my whole life, which is funny because I didn’t finish college, but I realized I had to. But I would…
Matthew Peck: We talked about what you know now, what you learned now, what you didn’t know then. So, we’ll put that.
Matt Glynn: Well, with the mistakes I made, I could have paid for Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and probably Emerson.
Matthew Peck: Life’s a good teacher.
Matt Glynn: It is, it is.
Matthew Peck: Absolutely. Sometimes lessons do have price tags.
Matt Glynn: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Matthew Peck: Okay, so back to the education, though, do you feel that the system that you implemented for Glynn Electric really was what drove the business?
Matt Glynn: So, we started this thing called the ELIP program. I’m not going to go into it too deep, but it was something where people would come to us who wanted to learn what it meant to be an electrician. So, they would come on a Saturday. We would give them an aptitude test. We would give them a common sense test, a ruler test, color blind because that’s important for being an electrician because you got to identify green and red.
And we would do skills out in the warehouse and they would do two interviews where they would ask questions. One, they asked questions about what it meant to be an electrician. And one, we would ask them what they did and we would select. We never advertised this program. And every time we ran it, which was twice a year, 50 people would show up on a Saturday. We didn’t pay them, but they didn’t pay.
And then we would select the top 15 to 18 and we would give them a week to make a decision if they liked or wanted to try it. And then we would give them a week, two weeks to give notice, and then they would start the following week after that and they would come and go through electrical boot camp. And the guy who ran the boot camp was actually a marine sergeant, so he ran it like a boot camp and they would go through safety, then they go through learning what the materials were, and then they would go on field trips after three weeks. And you would go to a job site like this and you would be the foreman and you would say, “I want your guys to wire the room.”
And they would come in here and the boot camp guy would lead them. And then when they left, you would say, “Hey, you know that young lady that was wiring that wall there, I liked her. Leave her.” So, then that would be your person.
Matthew Peck: That would be their job, yeah.
Matt Glynn: And then we’d assign them to a mentor to watch for them. And then they would go into– this is an interesting thing. We redesigned the apprentice training program, went to the state to get it approved, and they wouldn’t approve it because they’d never seen anything like this before. So, we came back. They called us back after three months and said, “Would you be willing? We’ll accept your program and we’ll give you a grant of $85,000 to help us develop this program for us to use in the vocational schools.”
Matthew Peck: Wow. So, that one almost became the curriculum at vocational schools.
Matt Glynn: Because it didn’t just do code, it did theory, and it built upon like, say, class one, you had to do class three, you had to do class one. But to do class two, you didn’t have to do class one. So, it kind of built different modules.
Matthew Peck: Yeah, in different avenues to get where you need it to get.
Matt Glynn: And then in the third year, there was a leadership module as part of it, too, for the people that we thought were going to be foreman. And then when they became licensed, they would enter into a foreman class. But the key to this was every six months, we were getting 10 new electricians into our company that were trained our way to do things. And customer service was part of the training. I mean, we tied life skills into our training.
Matthew Peck: Excellent.
Matt Glynn: How to balance checkbooks, how to treat other people, all kinds of things that we built into the system. And that was our growth. We didn’t have to go out and hire or steal people. And a lot of the other electrical contractors in the industry, we were probably the one that everyone trusted. But if we let somebody go, if we let a D player go because we were ready to go to the next level, they would hire them like that.
Matthew Peck: Wow, yeah.
Matt Glynn: Because they were well trained.
Matthew Peck: Because they had that background. I mean, yeah, I could see where that type of pipeline is a great section of one of the many keys to success.
Matt Glynn: During one of the downturns, we didn’t do it because there wasn’t very much work. I think it was in the early 2000s, maybe. I don’t remember for sure. But anyway, what we found is four years later, it affected us deeply. We couldn’t grow.
Matthew Peck: Yeah, you didn’t have that…
Matt Glynn: So, for two years, we were flat because we couldn’t get people and we started it after two years and we went back up again and then we started our growth again.
Matthew Peck: Interesting. So, it’s almost like a direct correlation to the pipeline of well-trained, motivated people that made it through your school, for lack of a better word. And just quick sidebar, we have this great internship program here at SHP with the same idea. I mean, college juniors or seniors or sometimes even high school, local high school kids will come here and learn a little bit about the business. And we’ve already hired at least two or three of them, if memory serves.
So, same idea, just because, as you said, it’s education, but it’s also real-world education, right? It’s not just, okay, how to wire this, it’s also how to present yourself, how to be professional, how to deal with customers, I mean, that’s skills to learn. You’re not born with customer service.
Matt Glynn: Every one of your employees is a salesperson.
Matthew Peck: It’s a great point. Everyone is walking around with your brand, of the business’ brand, I should say, and their air about them, I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t agree more.
Matt Glynn: I’ll give a little bump to someone here when I walk in. Gisele is just so personable and nice. She remembers your name, and like she says, “You want a cup of coffee?” She remembers how I like it. She’s an amazing salesperson for this company.
Matthew Peck: Right. Men’s spokeswoman. Ambassador is another way, we’ll sometimes put it.
Matt Glynn: Yeah, okay. You call them what you want.
Matthew Peck: Okay. So, I’ll ask a couple of questions, a lot of stuff to get into, of course. But first off is, so when was it time? When was it time? Or let me ask two questions. When was it time for Matt Glynn to say, “Hey, I want to do a succession plan or I want to leave”? And then, in general, what did you learn? Or for other business owners out there, when should people start thinking about that, five years out, ten years out, one year out?
Matt Glynn: So, interesting fact is that all the businesses that start this year, only 10% of them are going to survive. And the next year, only 10% of those who survive are going to survive. And that goes all the way to five years. So, the percentage of survival in business is very low. Also, a lot of people go into business for the wrong reason. They want to go. I asked people who left Glynn Electric. Here’s an interesting fact. Since we have been acquired, and before that, we have spun off 30 electrical contractors that have gone off on their own.
Matthew Peck: Wow.
Matt Glynn: And I encouraged it. If someone really wanted to do it, I would help them. But I’d always ask them the question, “Why do you want to do it?” And the first thing everyone would answer was, “I want to be my own boss.” And I would say, “Well, you’re wrong because your customers are your boss, your employees are your boss, and your suppliers are your boss. They’re going to dictate how you run your life.” And they would be like, “Oh, interesting.”
“I want to make more money.” And I’d say, “Okay, well, you’re not going to make more money now.” I say, “You will someday, but if you figure out how much you’re going to make per hour, you wouldn’t work for me for that. So, get that in your head.”
Matthew Peck: Yeah, right. Let’s be clear about this before you go.
Matt Glynn: And the third thing was, “I want more free time.” And I’m like, “That ain’t happening.” I mean, if you want a successful business, you got to pour yourself into it, and…
Matthew Peck: There might be eventually free time, sorry to interrupt, five years, ten years into it.
Matt Glynn: Well, that’s what I was going to get to next. If you survive five years, it gets easier. People now pay attention to you. If you survive 10 years, you’re in. You’re in the club and banks lend to you more readily. Supply stores give you more credit. Customers aren’t worried about you not being able to finish a job. So, that 10-year point is huge.
So, my suggestion to anyone who starts their own business, when you hit the 10-year point, start planning because there are so many ways to exit a business. I mean, I ended up selling my business to a competitor in our market and I’m not sure it was 100% the right choice, but at the time, it was the only choice. But there was an ESOP and I was going down two paths at the same time.
Matthew Peck: And just for all of our listeners, ESOP stands for employee stock option purchase. So, as Matt was saying, there’s a number of different ways that you can structure the sale of a business, but one of them, the ESOP path is you literally are selling to the employees themselves. Now, there’s some pros and cons, pretty much anything, but there’s pros and cons of the ESOP path, but that’s what Matt’s referring to, just so everyone knows. Continue.
Matt Glynn: So, you have to identify certain things. Number one, children, if you have children, are they interested in this? And you can’t force your child to take over your business. That was my initial plan. But as you know and some of the people that are listening know, we lost our son when he was 32 years old and he was our only child in a car accident. At that point, he was back involved with the business and doing phenomenal. And I brought someone on as a president. And the five-year plan was he was going to be president. And then Josh was going to take back over and I was going to stay involved and train both of them. And of course, when my son died, I lost that impetus to continue in that direction.
So, that’s the first thing you do is decide, are there heirs that are willing to step in, and are they capable? They could be great people, but are they capable of doing it? Do they have vision? Do they have the ability to manage people? Do they have the ability to inspire people? So, that’s part of it. And if not, then you have to look other ways. I mean, there is VC firm. If you want to get out earlier and have a back-end to it, you get to do a five-year plan.
But my point is, fortunately, for me, I had some great advisors. But I also think that– I don’t know if there’s anybody out there that does this, but they should be, somebody that can help a business owner on the multiple paths to choose because they’re all a little different and they all have different pain points and grace points. However, it’s typically two that people decide, that they’re going to do one of two, and you should go down both path at the same time until you hit a point that you can’t, that you have to decide.
But I think that, I mean, I had planned originally, it was 10 years beforehand and I started doing some planning, how to do this, talking to my– I had a really good business advisor who you met, Justin Amico, and he was more than an accountant, but he helped a lot. And it’s also how you structure your taxes. I mean, I was a Subchapter S, ready to go to a C, and he said, “No, if you’re going in that direction when you retire, it’s going to be harder to do that.” Okay, well, I didn’t make that mistake.
Matthew Peck: And I love that idea, too, of the two paths and kind of take them both. And then one will sort of you’ll realize over time, and almost like mentally, whether you’re mentally taking those paths or almost in real life in dealing with different advisors or the different attorneys and CPAs are necessary. But that’s an interesting idea as to how to make the ultimate decision because it is a tough decision, one that has– there’s so many different ways to do it, ways to structure it. And so, now, this is your path, right? And you did exit and you mentioned Josh. So, tell us about the Joshua Glynn Foundation and tell us about what you’re up to nowadays.
Matt Glynn: So, our son, what we found out we knew about him and what we found out after kind of made us decide on a way to honor his legacy. And what we did is– Josh used to travel around the world working in orphanages and helping people. He was in Mexico, Haiti, South Africa, Kenya, which is how we met the people that we’re working within some of these places. And he used to lament that these kids will never learn how to play music. So, that was one of it.
And when he was younger, he had to do some community time and went to the Boys & Girls Club and started the music program at the Plymouth Boys & Girls Club, was extremely successful. And they tell stories about what he used to do there. And the other thing, he was really involved with the homeless people in this area, and we didn’t find that out until after his death. And so, we started this foundation. We did some golf tournaments, of which SHP always sponsored too. Thank you very much.
Matthew Peck: Absolutely.
Matt Glynn: And we would have a music festival because you’re such a musician. That has kind of died down because it’s the logistics.
Matthew Peck: A lot of work.
Matt Glynn: Oh, yeah.
Matthew Peck: I mean, even a golf tournament is a lot of work. I mean, it might sound arrogant or whatnot, but it is. For anyone that’s done charity golf tournaments, they’re logistics stuff, much as a concert.
Matt Glynn: We were able to raise $85,000 in one tournament. And one year, we actually raised $240,000 in one concert. It was crazy because what people would do is see what we’re doing and they’d want to be part of it. And we built phase one of the Boys & Girls Club music studio. And they’re using it every day and they do an acapella down there and a drum corps, and kids are learning it. And we’re doing phase two now, which is going to be a studio, recording studio, a music instrument depository.
And what that is, is if, let’s say, when I was a kid, I wanted to play saxophone, but we couldn’t afford a saxophone, so I ended up playing trumpet. And I really didn’t like it. So, what we’ve decided is, if any kids at the Boys & Girls Club want to learn an instrument, they can borrow it through the library. I don’t care what the instrument is. If your instructor says, “Hey, Matt is really good at the saxophone, but he needs his own so he can practice at home,” well, then we’re going to gift one to you because you’ve committed to it and off you go. So, we have a depository of instruments, and there’s a lot of people out there that, like me, they have a trumpet that doesn’t go bad but hasn’t been used in 20 or 30 years.
Matthew Peck: Oh, great play, right? That’s metal. That’s some brass, right? I mean, that’s not going anywhere.
Matt Glynn: Right. And drum sets, there’s so many drum sets out there that people bought for their kids that said, “Yeah, we’re not doing anymore.” But anyway, and we’re putting a dance studio in there and we’re working with Map Academy as well, so that not only Boys & Girls Club of Plymouth using it, but Map Academy is using it for some of their kids. And it’s an amazing, amazing program.
Matthew Peck: So, we’re talking obviously practical, already in action type of activities and efforts. So, that’s the other part too, man. Unfortunately, I have Evan who sort of tell me it’s time to wrap up sooner rather than later. But no, I have one more question, though, for you. I’m going to go back to the very, very beginning because you mentioned about one of the key elements of leadership was decision making. You had mentioned that at the very beginning. So, I wanted to end on that before wrapping it up.
And so, how did you approach decision making? And actually, I’ll kind of use the example you just made, which was the two paths. Was it, you generally take a look at both angles and continue on until one would sort of become clear? Or was it more, because one thing, as a quick sidebar, I try to do is sort of think about the future and be, okay, well, if this happens, then I do that, and if this happens, I do this, and sort of make the decision now? And then depending on the circumstances, then you go left or right because you’ve already thought that, okay, if these circumstances come together, this is what I’m going to do. So, it’s almost like the decision was made in preparation for it as compared in that moment. But yeah, are there any keys or any leadership decision-making things that you always hang your hat on?
Matt Glynn: Well, the other important thing to note is when you hire people, they’re going to make decisions for you. And that goes back to the integrity, trust, and honesty thing. And I used to use this example with my project managers and estimators, and I’d say, “Listen, this year, you’re going to make 100 decisions for me, my company.” I said, “Ninety of them, you’re going to be dead on accurate. Five of whom, you’re going to mess up. However, you’re going to catch it and you’re going to fix it before it becomes a problem. Three of them, you’re going to bring to me, and together, we’re going to fix it. And two of them, you just messed up.” And what does that mean? It didn’t kill anybody. However, it cost us money. Okay, we can recover from that.
So, when I would tell that to people, that would change their decision thinking because they wouldn’t be paralyzed by 98 out of 100 decisions they make are good decisions. And that’s what I used to try and tell my leaders in my company, trying to get them to be bigger leaders. But the first Glynn Electric messed up a bit, probably more than I can admit. We blew up the main service to Cape Cod Hospital. We blew out a generator, but none of them were our fault. But this is something that we became known for.
I would step in. First of all, you’d calm it down. Don’t cast blame or try and blame anyone. Figure out what happened. Figure out the solution. Fix it, then talk about whose problem it was. And that’s what made me good at it, is I would look at how it affected others, especially those most affected by it before how it affected me. And sometimes, it costs us a lot of money. Other times, it costs us some money, yet we got them.
Like, up until we sold Glynn Electric, we were the only electrician allowed at Cape Cod Healthcare, which is the entire Cape for the last 25 years because of the integrity and honesty. And when I made that decision to fix something, I didn’t blame anyone. I just fixed it. And it ended up that it was an insurance claim of the manufacturers. So, we ended up getting paid to fix it anyway, but I didn’t know that at the time.
Matthew Peck: Right. Well, I do want to go back to what I love about that is when you talk about whether it’s your own, almost like forgiving yourself a little bit, meaning that, hey, everyone, no one’s perfect, right? We’re all human. And okay, you will be making 100 decisions, but 98 of them are going to be the right decision and will be able to be manageable. And yes, you will make the wrong decision, but that’s okay. That’s life and that is how…
Matt Glynn: Heck, if I could make 90 out of 100 decisions right, I’d be…
Matthew Peck: That’s an A-plus. That’s an A-plus, right?
Matt Glynn: Yeah. You guys did it here. You made a decision to take this entire space and you did a class A job on it. It costs you money.
Matthew Peck: Yes.
Matt Glynn: And it came out of the three partners’ project’s profits. But you made a place where people are happy to come to work.
Matthew Peck: Right.
Matt Glynn: They like this space. They like where it is. That’s the decision you made and you didn’t make it. If you made it completely thinking about yourself, you wouldn’t have done it because it’s coming out of your pocket.
Matthew Peck: Well, and I think, too, I mean, just obviously, that’s why I really enjoyed the podcast in general and having you come on as a guest is because, obviously, you’re more than a guest, you’re a friend, and you’re also sort of a fellow traveler in that regard. I mean, that’s why when Evan suggested the idea of putting together a business owner podcast, I was like, “Heck yeah,” because we both– well, it’s just that idea of it all kind of end on that is the fact of maybe key to both of our successes, if you will, or SHPs and Glynn Electrics, and obviously, your endeavors which you didn’t even have time. There’s a pod program, a charitable program helping out the third-world employees. Maybe we can have a little addendum at some point just to talk about that.
Matt Glynn: We could do that.
Matthew Peck: But that’s it, I think, as I mentioned, is going into business for the right reasons. Yes, it can be profitable. Yes, it can create a good life for you and your wife and your spouse and family and whatnot. But it’s more than that, right? It’s the people that come in and your ambassadors or all of your teammates and the people that you work with because it’s making sure that they are in their happy place and want to come to work, right? And because I think that type of success or that type of positive energy begets more positive energy and the ripple effect obviously casts out from there.
So, obviously, you certainly did it yourself, Matt. And I want to say congratulations for all of the pre-retirement accomplishments. And as I said, we only scratched the surface on the post-retirement accomplishments that we will absolutely get back to in a future podcast. So, Matthew Glynn, thanks so much, my friend.
Matt Glynn: Thank you, Matt. Pleasure being here.Charlie podpostmedia2023-10-19T12:07:44-04:00