Scott Larson, COO of Gustave A. Larson Company
Originally published: 11.01.18 by HVACR Business Staff
1. What’s your management philosophy?
Lead by example. Don’t expect your people to do something you wouldn’t do yourself, but at the same time, don’t do it for them. Integrity is truly a core philosophy that extends from doing the right thing to also if you see something, say something.
2. What do you view as the most important aspect of your job?
Leadership. No matter how good the individuals are on a team, it needs a good leader. A good leader can make the team great.
3. How do you communicate effectively to such a large organiztion?
We have one operating, management and execution system that everyone in the organization has bought into. We hold weekly team meetings throughout the organization that cascades goals and quarterly priorities. We also hold an all company meeting every 90 days.
4. What trends do you see moving forward?
Asian variable refrigerant flow (VRF) and ductless manufacturers will continue to integrate their products with traditional split systems to a point where they will become a much larger part of U.S. residential housing. Also, Internet selling will continue to grow, especially as public companies such as Watsco and Ferguson use their e-tailing platforms to grow beyond the normal two-step distribution channel.
5. What challenges will contractors face in the next few years?
They’ll have to figure out how to deal with the next recession, as well as how to transition their business to the next generation of ownership, even if not to direct family.
6. How are you positioned to help contractors with these challenges?
We truly partner with our customers and become their closest advisor. That’s why we call our salespeople consultants, as we want them to help their contractors be better business people and help anticipate any issue their business may be facing.
7. What do you see successful contractors doing that others are not?
Those that truly partner with their supplier to add value to their business and their customers are successful. Somebody in our organization put it best, what is the “sustainable strategic advantage” they have to be successful? We will help.
8. What management practices will Gustave A. Larson help contractors improve?
We help them put better business systems in place and sell more product at higher margins.
9. What types of training do you offer contractors?
Technical and business training, as well as value-added services/solutions that are like training, only better.
10. Would you explain your philosophy on training?
We like to offer formal training two ways, both in-person as well as online through our Larson Learning Center. Our philosophy is simple: we don’t succeed unless our customers succeed, so we provide training and other solutions to help them be more successful.
11. Could you tell us about Gustave A. Larson’s training programs?
Most of what you’ll see on our website is formal contractor product training, but in addition, we also offer our Larson Business Solutions that help our customers in a multitude of areas of their business all with the intent of helping them sell more, operate more efficiently and, therefore, make more money.
12. How do you promote the training in the industry?
We have links to everything available at galarson.com on our home page as well as in our Training & Events and Services section. We also do specific email and text marketing campaigns, as well as installing flat screens in all our branches.
13. Are you working on any specific tools to help contractors?
Larson Business Solutions helps the contractor with such things as efficient online ordering, selling more parts and accessories (higher margins), lead generation and how to optimize SEO, ad and media campaigns, flat rate pricing, technical support including access to our team of service advisors, recruiting employees, extended warranties and more. We also offer crane service in selected markets to help the contractor save the hassle and time of coordinating equipment delivery and the lift.
14. Where do you see the most significant growth in your business?
Definitely in three areas: ductless and VRF, new dealers and residential and commercial new construction.
15. What are the challenges facing wholesaler/distributors today?
The challenge continues to be remaining a value-added part of the two-step distribution channel and not getting squeezed out. I truly believe we provide that value for our suppliers and contractors, otherwise independent distributors like us wouldn’t survive.
16. What does the future hold for HVACR distributors in general?
Distribution is always stuck in the middle with demands from customers and suppliers. We have to look at our partners like we look at ourselves internally: whom do we align with from a values perspective? If we can do this, we’ll have long-term success.
17. How did you get your start in HVACR?
In the warehouse working for dad back in the day. No job was too small from dusting shelves to sweeping floors, receiving, stocking, pulling parts, shipping, warranty, etc.
18. What’s your proudest achievement so far?
Building a team of leaders that has taken the business to another level.
19. How do you measure success?
Simple. Did we accomplish what we said we were going to do?
20. Who has been your biggest role model?
My father Karl by far. He was second generation, taking over from my grandpa Gus Larson. Dad was a visionary who took over the business, actually shrunk it to make it more successful and then started growing again from there. He’s still an inspiration to me and all in our company today.