Managing Editor, Heather Langone interviewed Amanda Triolo, CEO of Grasshopper Heating & Cooling. Triolo spoke about branding, rapid growth, and a passion for leading others to be their best.
1. What would people be surprised to know about you?
I’m an introvert. If you know Myers-Briggs at all, I'm the rare INTJ personality type.
2. Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving tradition?
My entire family goes to my aunt's house to bake apple pies. It's one of my favorite days. The smell of everything is just awesome. We have coffee, tea, champagne … all the things.
3. Do you make the turkey for Thanksgiving?
No, the turkey intimidates me. But I am responsible for making the pasta for Pasta Sundays.
4. Do you belong to any contractor groups?
No, we're in Service Round Table. Other than that, I am content to create my wheel rather than reinvent existing ones. Right now, I am working on perfecting – making the Grasshopper template, the Grasshopper template.
5. If you were to describe the Grasshopper template in one sentence, what would it be?
We create opportunities that change lives and lead people to make great decisions.
6. What does your typical work week look like?
We’re at a point where we have a fully developed and trained leadership team. My sole job is to develop, coach, train, and empower my leadership team, so they do the same with their teams. My week usually starts with a team meeting every Monday. On Tuesdays, we have what's called Tuesdays with Grasshopper, where the whole company comes together to have breakfast. I talk to the entire company and typically do some motivational training. Leading people to become the best that they can be – that's my passion.
7. What is your business mix percentage?
We're 90% residential, 10% new construction.
8. The name Grasshopper seems to represent an overarching philosophy for you. Is that true?
It’s true. When Covid hit, we were a commercial install company. Gov. Cuomo shut down construction job sites. I had no business. Everything came to a halt. I pivoted quickly, researching companies that did residential HVAC, learning as I went. It was then that I discovered the power of branding. I messaged anyone I could, asking questions like, What are you doing now to keep your people moving? Have you come to a stop? And almost 95% of them had experienced no stop in business. The common theme – they had excellent branding. So, I hired Kickcharge Creative, changed our name, and rebranded as Grasshopper. When I was deciding on the name, I Googled Grasshopper. What came up was that grasshoppers are responsible for decomposition and regrowth within the ecosystem and that grasshoppers only move in a forward direction. That was it. This had been my entire philosophy even before renaming the company. It felt aligned.
9. What was the biggest business lesson you learned during the pandemic?
Take the reins of your company. Don’t rely on your phone to ring or become complacent. Always stay a step ahead.
10. Is there a difference between men and women in executive roles? And if so, what is it?
I hired my first executive hire in June, also a woman. She is our chief growth officer. While it's a man's trade, our goal is to attract more women into the industry. The office here is all women. I think women bring a different level of relational leadership to the business. Other than that, I don't think there's much difference.
11. What is the most important aspect of your job?
Exclusive of heating and cooling, my purpose here is to lead people to be the best that they can be. My biggest investment is in my team. That’s a priority before any kind of profit.
12. How are you addressing the challenge of recruiting top talent?
We hired a videographer to shadow us to get some content out there to attract the right people. It makes people look and say, “Oh, what's this company about? This is something that looks like a place I might fit in.” I'd say 95% of the people with us now, found us that way. While we are in an aggressive growth phase now and have a recruiter, we’re also not above hiring and training people who are “green”.
13. What motivates you to stay competitive?
While I have a competitive nature, it’s more about competing with myself. I cannot fill my head space with what competitors are doing. I look at competitors’ not-so-great Google reviews to make sure we avoid those pitfalls.
14. Has technology been a factor in the company's success?
It was a huge factor. Before I pivoted into residential, I signed up with Service Titan in 2017. It took time to understand Service Titan, how to schedule a call, how to sell an estimate, invoices, accounting, the price book, and dispatching, I still couldn't figure out a way to get there without bringing the business down to nothing. As soon as I felt ready, technology became the most integral part of streamlining payment collections and keeping consistent cash flow. We are a 98% paperless company. Everything is dialed into our CRM, which is service-tight, and estimates are sent and signed electronically. All our financing and marketing are also done electronically.
15. What are your goals for the company in 2023?
I have been conservative in setting goals because it was humble beginnings. We grew so much in a short period that last year's revenue blew me away. We grew 3300% last year alone. In 2023, I’d say $20 million is my goal, but we may surpass that.
16. How will Grasshopper be impacted by upcoming refrigerant changes?
We are hyper-vigilant and continue to educate our clients as well. Our distributor stays in constant communication with us on this.
17. What is your management philosophy?
Our servant leaders lead from the front, and we are in the trenches with them. If I walk into the call center and somebody's struggling on a phone or battling an objection, I am listening to the call with them and writing notes out to help them through it.
18. What business relationships have been important to the success of your company?
Our distributor partnership is vital. And Chris Yao, CEO of Rhino Strategic Solutions, an online marketing company. Before I believed in myself, he believed in me and saw my potential, and has consistently guided me. Also, Ken Goodrich, whom I met at Rhino X, a private exclusive home service event. When I have questions or when I'm about to make a big change, I run them by him. He's always willing to help.
19. What aspect of managing the company is most gratifying to you?
Leading people, changing people's lives, and leading them to become the best that they can be. That's it.
20. How are you mentoring other women in HVACR?
I still feel humble about my success. I haven't stepped into that role yet because I'm still very much on my way and have so much more to achieve.
Heather Langone is Managing Editor at HVACR Business Magazine. To send comments and inquiries please email firstname.lastname@example.org