Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Bill Roth, President, and CEO of Roth IAMS Ltd., located in Oakville, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Most asset and facility managers dread the annual budgeting and planning process. At Roth IAMS, we provide strategies, data, tools, and processes to improve both the process and the outcomes. We collaborate with owners, managers, and stewards of large portfolios of facility and infrastructure assets across North America to support them in developing integrated asset management strategies. Our vision is to solve the world's deferred capital renewal and maintenance backlog crisis.
Tell us about yourself
Way back in 2002, I was working on a project, and I walked into an elementary school to oversee our team that was doing a condition assessment of the building. I saw an orange pylon outside an open door next to a classroom. I looked inside the door and saw that it was the electrical room servicing that area of the school. There were two inches of water on the floor in a room with high-voltage electrical equipment, and the only thing that was preventing an elementary school student from entering the room was an orange pylon.
This really impacted me and made me realize the urgency of repairing our existing institutional buildings that were housing students, workers, patients, and residents. After decades of underfunding, the condition of many of the buildings had deteriorated to the point of being unsafe. This was when I was first exposed to the idea of Deferred Capital Renewal and Maintenance (DCRM) Backlog, which represents all of the items within a building that should have been repaired or replaced but have not been, despite it being aged and deteriorated.
From that point on, my career became focused on helping public sector clients address their DCRM Backlog. In 2014, when I left my previous employer, a large multinational engineering firm, I decided that there was no existing firm that shared my vision for creating a firm that focused on integrated facility and infrastructure asset management. Rather than joining another firm where I, and my team, were a square peg in a round hole, I would create the firm that I felt the market needed.
More recently, in 2019, my passion for our work was renewed. My paternal grandmother was admitted to a hospital, the same one that my maternal grandmother passed away in back in 1992. When I walked into the entranceway of the hospital, it was like I had traveled back in time. The building looked almost exactly the same over 37 years later! When compared to being admitted into a newly constructed hospital, the patients in this building were trying to heal in a building that I was literally born in (although I don't remember what it looked like then, I assume it was pretty similar to today).
My goal was and is to create the best firm in the world for professionals who are passionate about our vision and share our core values, and love to do the work of helping clients understand and address their DCRM.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
There are many points of pride throughout the last almost nine years of Roth IAMS's existence. However, the thing that I am most proud of is that we have grown to a size where we are able to build an internal Leadership Development Program. The initial roll-out is occurring later this month (January 2023), so we are in the very early days of the program.
Growing the company to 100 people has been amazing. However, the only way we are going to be able to continue to scale is if we have an overabundance of leaders within the organization, which is our goal for the Leadership Development Program.
By building a program that will be available to every staff member, as opposed to just a select few "high potential" staff, our Leadership Team is hoping to create leaders at all levels of the company.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Getting started and closing your first sale is the hardest part of a company's earliest days. Before you convince someone to give you money for the first time, it is impossible to know if your idea is a good one or not. It is important that you believe in your product or service and don't give up because it almost always takes longer than you will originally estimate to start building momentum.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't do it if you are not prepared to sell your products or services.
- Don't fall in love with your own ideas. You need to respond to the market and adjust your plans and strategies accordingly.
- Explore and experiment until you find your hedgehog concept, and then focus relentlessly on it from there on out.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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