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PAYTON SNELL

MERRIAM KANSAS

ARMED WITH A MASTER'S DEGREE & READY TO TAKE ON THE WORLD

Have no fear, the next generation is here. Meet Payton Snell, a young man with a bold plan to revitalize the image and culture of the HVAC industry. If you have doubts about the future of America’s workforce, Payton’s success story at Polestar will put those doubts to rest. Read on and get ready to be impressed.

Q: How did you get into HVAC?

I have a bachelor’s degree in finance with a master’s degree in business administration, but my shelf life as a financial accountant was exactly one year after grad school; the corporate environment just wasn’t for me. I started talking to my dad about coming to work for the family business right away, because I saw a need that I could fill. We spent the better part of my one and only year as a financial accountant creating the action plan for my transition to Polestar. With a strong plan in place, I moved from being an accountant in the corporate world to business development in our family business.

Q: What did your action plan entail?

The plan centered on creating and implementing a reporting system with metrics to revitalize work culture and motivate growth in our business. The bulk of our staff at that time had been with Polestar for a quite a while, so I was up against a sense of complacency that was stunting growth and perpetuating resistance to change. My dad was on an island in terms of management; his niche is to be in the trenches doing the technical work, so he couldn’t execute the plan alone. I was brought-in as an outside manager who could observe and identify places where greater efficiency would bring growth and improve culture. I worked with my strategic mentors at PRAXIS S-10 to not only help me identify the company’s deficiencies, but to help me build a plan to overcome them.

Q: How did you overcome complacency?

In some cases, it became necessary to part ways with staff who resisted change. That’s the most difficult example, because cuts included a Service Manager who had been with the company for many years. But by standing strong in the face of difficult decisions, I was able to identify and promote a core group of employees who are crucial to the foundation of our future. With that core in place, I began recruiting the next generation of young, hungry, winners to bring an infusion of progressive energy to Polestar.

Q: Did those cuts create any resentment?

I don’t think I was well-liked even before the cuts. As the owner’s son, I was subject to a stereotype that I had it easy, a free pass to do what I wanted, but I didn’t let that become a barrier. I was in the office from 5am to 8pm, including Saturdays and Sundays, so that shattered the idea that I had it easy. As far as cuts, I let the results of my action speak louder than words. With metrics in place and a new staff to support the core, growth followed. That led to more process improvements and created more opportunities for the staff to succeed. They came to respect change as new opportunities for success.

Q: How long did it take to start seeing the results of your action plan?

This is my third year with Polestar and I can tell you that I’m still working hard on a daily basis to get to the point where I can start to see some of the big picture results, but the daily steps forward became visible almost immediately. I had an incredible mentor at PRAXIS S-10 who encouraged me to apply macro-patience and micro-speed to achieve results. I remind my team daily not to get wrapped-up in the macro, because it doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient. Focus on the micro, master your daily tasks for speed, accuracy, and efficiency. I’m motivated by the daily grind and trust macro results to follow. Easier said than done.

Q: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

The number one motivating factor that gets me out of bed is a sense of pride in my family name and a sense of responsibility to pay back my parents for the way I was raised. My success is the direct result of the advantages they provided. In the corporate world, any success was only mine, but I found more motivation in the fact that I could make my parents lives better by succeeding at Polestar. 

Q: Looking back, would you do anything differently?

I’ve spent quite a few late nights in the office banging my head against the table, because not everything has gone according to the action plan. But I’m in the office right now looking at today’s dashboard, and I see that we’re up 42% from last year and it’s only February. In 2020 we grew 40%, so I’m not sure that I would do anything differently in light of that success. I do regret being unable to reach and motivate some of the staff that we lost. I wish I had been able to find a way to handle that differently. The biggest thing I wonder about is where Polestar would be today if I had gone to work straight out of high school. Maybe I could’ve given more back to my parents by now if I had started contributing to success sooner.

Q: What does Contractor Strong mean to you?

It means springing out of bed in the morning to lift 35 years of weight off my father’s shoulders. It’s a commitment to maintaining a culture of professionalism and success, built on experience, powered by the next generation of intelligent, hungry individuals. It means proudly hanging a vision statement and customer commitment on the wall. It’s having the confidence to put your head down and get to work.

 

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