Ep 008 – Mastering Operations and Finance with Olin Unruh

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Olin Unruh

Looking to take your landscape & irrigation company to the next level? Step into the world of Olin Unruh, the owner of Wetlands Irrigation and Turf, in this captivating episode of Roots of Success. In a profession that often requires specialized knowledge, Olin defied expectations and turned a lack of experience into an advantage. In this deep dive, we explore how Olin's customer-centric approach, coupled with a rapidly growing demand for his services, propelled him from struggling newcomer to one of the industry's biggest success stories. Join us for valuable insights from Olin's journey, plus expert advice and practical strategies to excel in the competitive landscape business realm.


Adaptability and Problem-Solving Fuel Success

Key Moments:

[07:32] How Olin transitioned from car detailing to owning Wetlands Irrigation and Turf.

[12:46] The origins of Wetlands Irrigation and Turf as a spinoff of a local nursery.

[24:13] How a lack of experience with sprinkler systems helped Olin overcome challenges.

[29:45] The challenges Olin faced in learning on the job and handling service calls and contracts.

[36:20] The rapid growth of Wetlands during a drought in 2010 to 2013.

[41:15] Olin's customer-centric philosophy and focus on problem-solving.


    1. How do I improve profitability of my business?
    2. What are some effective strategies for landscape financial management?
    3. What are the benefits of joining a landscape peer group?
    4. How can I optimize my business operations and increase efficiency?
    5. What are some best practices for hiring and managing employees?
    6. How can I grow my landscaping business successfully?
    7. What are the key factors in running a successful irrigation and turf company?
    8. What challenges do landscape professionals face and how to overcome them?
    9. How to excel in customer service in the landscaping industry?
Episode Transcript
John: Roots of Success podcast is for the landscape professional who's looking to up their game. We're not talking lawns or grass here. We're talking about people, process, and profits. The things deep within the business that need focus to scale a successful company from hiring the right people and managing your team to improving your operations and mastering your finances.

We've got a brain trust of experts to help you nurture the roots of a successful business and grow to the next level. This is The Roots of Success.

Tommy Cole: Welcome to another episode of Roots of Success podcast. I'm your host, Tommy Cole, and today we have Olin Unruh, owner of wetlands, irrigation, and Turf in Kansas. Olin talks about his journey from buying a small five figure business in 2010 to becoming a successful seven figure business owner with multiple revenue streams.

We talk about every lesson he has learned along the way, his experience working with coaches and peer groups, and the growing pains of becoming a [00:01:00] leader and manager of a thriving business. It's going to be a great episode. Let's get into it.

Wetlands Business Introductionv Olin Unruh: Yeah, good to be here, Tommy. Thanks for the introduction. Excited to do this with you.

Tommy Cole: Absolutely. Absolutely. All right, so first and foremost, like what's up with wetlands? How did it get started and where did it, where did that come from?

Olin Unruh: Well, it got started in the early nineties, here locally in McPherson, together with a, or as kind of a spinoff of a nursery that was here locally. They had clients asking them for irrigation. So the nursery owners started the crew and. After some time, it really had enough work that it kinda spun off to its own company.

in the early two thousands it kinda separated out and became wetlands irrigation.

Tommy Cole: Good. Good. So what, what, what's the meaning? Baton wetlands. Is that

Olin Unruh: So just west of McPherson is the mc McPherson wetlands. It's actually a wildlife preserve.[00:02:00] and that's where the name comes from. It's, it causes some confusion from time to time. We get affiliated with that a lot, but, it just was named for kind of a landmark, here in the area.

Tommy Cole: Cool. Good. So you bought the company, is that correct? When did you buy it and, and how did that go about?

Olin Unruh: Yeah. So, like I said, the company kind of spun off in 2000 and then, I, you know, about 10 years later, 2010 is where I kind of entered the picture. And at the time I was working with a cousin of mine doing auto car detailing and, you know, I enjoyed it, but it was kind of a pretty limited career, obviously. And, I had actually just been, yeah, spending a lot of time thinking and, and praying about. Starting my own business or finding a new opportunity. And it just, you know, shortly thereafter, a great uncle of mine comes up to me in, in church one Sunday morning after [00:03:00] church and he's like, Hey, I've got a friend, in McPherson that has this company that he's wanting to sell.

He wants to sell it to somebody that, you know, works hard and will take care of it. He said, and, and you just came to my mind, so. Pretty, you know, I had a pretty strong, feeling at that point already that this was meant for me. I mean, it was an answer to prayer. And, and so really pretty short negotiations and kind of, meeting with the owner, meeting with the local, rep for materials and things, I kind of said, yeah, let's, let's give it a shot.

I, at that point, I don't think I had ever seen a sprinkler system run. I

Tommy Cole: I was about to say.

Olin Unruh: know. So,

Tommy Cole: Did you even know what like sprinklers were, right? I mean,

Olin Unruh: yeah, I mean, I

Tommy Cole: have to sort of,

Olin Unruh: like driven down Main Street, McPherson maybe once, and saw water shooting outta the ground. And I'm like, ah, cool. What's that? You know? And, and I had no idea the amounts of business and, and work and, and kind of opportunity that [00:04:00] was in this, in this business.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. It's pretty amazing. So what year were you? Like 19, 20 ish or something?

Olin Unruh: I was 19 in 2010, so I was, yeah, really, I didn't do college. I, so, had kind of been working. I grew up on a dairy farm. My, my dad, we milk cows till I was 15. And, so I, I credit that I, for a lot of things. I mean, I, I learned to love early mornings and, you know, because I had to get out at five and go milk the cows and.

you just learn that perseverance of like, Hey, I don't care what the weather's doing, we have to go get this done. and yeah, that's kinda so 19 and, and didn't really know what I was doing. I had a, the business came with one employee and he worked or kind of slash trained me for like two weeks and then he went off and started something different and I kinda, pretty, pretty quickly I hired.

Another cousin of mine, to help out with the, with [00:05:00] the workload. But yeah, they, it was, it was tough, tough times. I mean, the, you know, I basically took ownership of the company's cell phone at the time and, it was ringing like the next day, with service calls and, and he had built up kind of a decent little maintenance contract business with it as well.

So, you know, I had like a, you know, probably a hundred. Maintenance clients are ready. Plus just the tra, you know, normal service calls and spring startups. It was March, and it, yeah, it really just kicked off with a bang.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, I mean, totally starting fresh and clean from working hard and you know, the dairy farm to irrigation. Like, what was your first step? Like, okay, here's a cell phone, Olin, give some money. Thank you. And then the next day, like you have to just do the business. Like I I, I assume that you just basically just did what you [00:06:00] can to sort of survive and bring in some food for the table.


Just anything and everything you could do.

Start of the Business

Olin Unruh: obviously I was, I was still living at home, so I, I didn't have the financial responsibilities that I do now, of course, and so that obviously helped, but it was from, from day one, it was just like, Hey, I have no option. These people are calling. They're expecting wetlands to show up and service them. And it was like a crash course of here's how you glue a pipe and here's, you know, what a sprinkler head looks like and how you'd replace one. And I don't remember, like, I know it was all just paper, little paper invoices, you know, like, like your, like your waitress about would use it. Did a carbon copy. And I was sitting out there writing my start time down and writing down my parts and then I. You know, I'd tear a copy off and, and go home in the evenings and do QuickBooks, you know, and, And it

Tommy Cole: at night.

Olin Unruh: oh, it [00:07:00] was, it was crazy. And, and then, you know, just, the phone was ringing a lot. I mean, I, I started this business hating talking on the phone and, You know, it was like for me to pick up the phone and call somebody was like an act of willpower.

Tommy Cole: Like, it, it was not something I enjoyed. And you know, I can tell you after the first couple of years, you know, you, you pretty much beat that outta the system. Yeah.

Olin Unruh: a lot of times, you know, I just, I'd miss a lot of calls during the day and so I'd get home and, you know, I remember coming in at, you know, We, we worked six in the morning to, I mean, eight at night, and then it was time to like pick up the phone, get the voicemails, you know, work on some invoicing, figure out the next day's schedule.

Tommy Cole: and yeah, just, just the stress of it plus learning the, learning the business. And then we hit, you know, 2010 to 2013 we're just record hot, dry years. And so [00:08:00] it was like, the demand was incredible. I mean, there was a, there was a drought up there, right? I mean it, so intense heat working conditions. Basically, the state of Kansas is on fire and you're the only one that can provide wa that can provide water. Like

Olin Unruh: you know,

Tommy Cole: mean, all I remember, my son was born in 2011,

the summer of 11 August. Wife being pregnant. Right. And that was the worst summer I remember. And I didn't have to carry a baby. I know it was the summer of hell for me because I worked on a project in Dallas and it was like 110 straight days of a hundred degree weather. And it was a project that was surrounded by three sides of tall building.

High Demand

Tommy Cole: And that was, the project was on, it was multimillion dollar project. And I'm like, I hate summer and I hate heat, and to this day I have ptsd D because of that. So you're the same boat. Like you can remember 20 10, 20 [00:09:00] 13 of this severe drought and how much you were in such demand all of a sudden.

Olin Unruh: Yeah. I mean, it probably was, it was good and bad. I mean, it, it really, you know, the demand, the need was there and it probably caused people to call wetlands that. You know, maybe wouldn't have otherwise, and maybe they gave me a second chance because their yard had to have it, you know?

And, and I feel like too, I just kind of, you know, my, my philosophy from early on was, you know, think like a customer, do everything I can.

I, I can't leave this customer in a position where their sprinkle system doesn't work and their lawn's burning up. And I, I really think that, That's kinda why people kept calling is, is just, you know, the willingness to put in the time, figure it out. Cuz there was a lot of that where I'm like, you know, it probably took me twice as long as it should have just because I didn't have a clue what I was doing.

But we, we figured it out and, you know, I'm, [00:10:00] I'm very proud to say that, you know, 13 years later we've got a lot of the same clients that were there for their, you know, to start with and, yeah, a hundred, I mean, it was a hundred days over a hundred and. It's like a sprinkler system is always designed to be supplemental.

It really can't replace rainfall. And yet those first few years it was like, Hey, you know my water, my lawn gets no water when your system isn't running for me.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, and you had to learn that, just that tagline alone, that the water, this irrigation is just supplemental.

It took years for you to really learn that.

Olin Unruh: Oh, absolutely. I mean, of course the first few years I was like, you know, if I'm not watering this, it's, it doesn't work. And I've really struggled with that feeling of, you know, I'm letting 'em down if, if this system isn't, you know, keeping their lawn lush and green like it does if it gets rain. And now I've learned that, you know, it's, it's supplemental.

It's not designed to [00:11:00] replace rainfall. And that helps in the, in the stressful drought times.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. So fast forward 14 to 17, 14, 15, 16, 17. You're hammering down. There's a great picture of you that you, you, when you hosted of, you and your team members of one guy, literally

Olin Unruh: That was me. Those were, those are my feet sticking out of

Tommy Cole: Those are your feet. Oh my gosh. So

Olin Unruh: And I got two guys hanging on because it was so deep. It was like you had to hang vertically. In there to, to get to that point where we were gonna connect the sprinkler system.

Tommy Cole: yeah, next, next to that picture is a picture of Red Bull. So between Red Bull and just working on a dairy farm and putting out, you're, you become the, the water guru to put out the drought. You had a business and that's all you. That's all you really needed.

Short Story : Away from the Business

Olin Unruh: Yeah, I mean, those were, those were the good old boy years. It's kinda the way I look at 'em. I mean, there was a bunch of, you know, all of us in that picture were farm kids and they were, you know, buddies, [00:12:00] cousins, you know, from the community. but I, I've got a real short story that I think is, is so part of who we are too.

That happened in 2013 and that was, that was a year I got engaged to my wife and. We got engaged in March, and she was a school teacher. And so she's like, well, the wedding has to be in the summer, right? It has, you know, August. And, you know, at that point I'm not saying no to anything. So I'm like, yeah, August. And in my head I'm like, there's no way I'm, you know, I've got, I had a couple employees by that time, but it was, you know, nothing happened when I wasn't there. Right. And I'm like, how in the, you know, how in the world am I gonna leave for. Three weeks in the middle of August. And you know, just back to back to my old plan of like, I prayed, I prayed hard that hey, you know, I don't know how this is gonna work out, but somehow we have to, you know, I'm gonna be gone for [00:13:00] three, two to three weeks in August.

And, and you know, I've got a team and I've got clients and I don't know how this is gonna work. And. You know, never really kind of figured anything up. I had a, I had a cousin that was, was like, I'll take the phone while you're gone, you know, and, try to kind of keep track of things. And so I, I leave, head to Mississippi, early August and, and what do you know, we have 25 inches of rain that month.

Like if you go back and look at the news articles during that period, August, 2013. Look up the Hutch News and it's just headline after headline of record flooding and, and, like, I don't think the phone hardly rang while I was gone. I mean, we, wetlands was not in need that month. And just a, you know, very clear, answered prayer in my part.

I, I kind of apologized since then for like, praying so hard, but,

Tommy Cole: Yeah. Pray for Rain actually worked.

Olin Unruh: Yeah, that was, that was crazy. [00:14:00] But, but then, yeah, you know, kind of moving on from there, 2014 through 2017 were just crazy busy. I, you know, I had a job, I know you said a business, but I mean, it was definitely where I was out there every day working with the team, you know, doing the estimates after hours, doing the billing, after hours, all that kind of thing.

and. So it was, it was stressful. It was, it was tough. I mean, it was good times. Just good. Good. There's a lot of good memories and a lot of hard work happened, and I feel like it's probably the years where a lot of that reputation got built, of who we are. But I, I wouldn't necessarily wanna go through that again.

Tommy Cole: No, no, no, no, no. We, we don't. I think you, you could, you, it, it's, it's close in the back of your head, but it will never be left. Right.

Olin Unruh: That's

Tommy Cole: might, you might have a few battle wounds, still currently from that. I get it. I, I have a battle wound for 2011 too. I don't like the heat anymore, so,

Olin Unruh: [00:15:00] Yeah.

Tommy Cole: Anyways.

Company Growth & Alternative Revenue Sources

Tommy Cole: so yeah, so fast forward, you know, 20, you start to grow. I mean, revenue's increasing. Then you've got a few more people on board and you're like, oh man, now, like, now what I gotta do. Right? I'm, I think at some point you get, start getting into hol you got, you're, Lawn care, you know, application going, which is the whole turf side.

So you know, now you've got a, a technician or two, and now you've got, then you, by 2020 you start getting into holiday, the Christmas decor line. I'm like, woo. A whole different dynamic. Tell me about that.

Olin Unruh: So 2018 is when we added the turf care and it just, it was kind of a natural fit. A lot of people were asking us, especially with the new irrigation systems, to put in lawns and those kind of things, and. I had a brother-in-law that was wanting to join the business and, and we just felt like, well, hey, he could kind of start the turf division.

So we started that in 2018. Just cold quoted every client in [00:16:00] wetlands and, and I think that first year, I mean we, we were basically had a full schedule for the turf, for the applications. and that was 2018. we were probably. Six, eight team members by that point. and then 2020 is when we got into the holiday lighting.

That was, that was a year, I think, September, 2020. We signed the, signed the papers on the holiday lighting and, you know, advertising hit the week that I went to training. And, you know, we did like 50 grand in holiday lighting. A month later. So that was, that was kind of another dive in, learn on the fly situation, that, that worked out.

we had, you know, we had a great partner in that and they helped a lot with that. So, and that was also, I think 2019 was the year that I kind of hit a wall and I kind of burned out and I said, this, this sucks. I'm working [00:17:00] so hard and I. There's just not enough of me to go around and I started, you know, thinking that, you know this, there's gotta be more to it.

and I think somewhere right in there I read the E-Myth, kind of the, I feel like that's the number one place to start with a business book. It's just foundational. You know, his story is you need to look at your business as a product, not the work you do. And I pretty much right there, I started looking for a coach.

I was like, I gotta find somebody that knows. I don't have a clue. I'm a farm boy. You know, I, I didn't go to college. I, I'd really don't know how to run a business. and so I, I found a coach and, and really 2019, 2020 was just, Huge years of growth for me, I mean, in being a business [00:18:00] owner. So I lot of times tell people that, you know, I didn't become a business owner until probably 2019 or 2020 up till then I was an operator.

I was a technician, I just came to work, you know, did the work, did everything. but there was, you know, without me, nothing really happened.

and so that was kind of a big shift. I kind of started, pulled back from the field. So, I had a, I had an employee that had been with me eight or nine years and, and he could kinda run the installation side of things and, and, we had some service technicians that kinda knew enough to go do service work and I really actually pulled back and spent probably about a year really in the office and just working on, you know, the office side, the systems and, and in 2020 we hired the first, our first administrative person to answer the phones and.

And, help in the office with billing and, and that kind of thing. And then I kind of moved, more into, [00:19:00] I'm trying to remember 2021. I mean, I, I would've still been pretty hands-on, more of just like an operations manager, kind of, still doing all the estimating, kinda reviewing, invoicing, and any. Any invoicing that wasn't just cookie cutter, I was doing, you know, on, on the top of that. So, and that was kinda, yeah, kind of brought us to 2020. And, and at that point we were still operating everything out of a little 40 by 60 shop, at my house. And I had rented an office space, here in a small town of Galva. And that was working, but it was just really. Cumbersome, you know, just having the two separate locations where there was just a lot of miscommunication, a lot of efficiency being lost. and so we started kinda looking and, and some ground opened up here. I'd got four acres here, just locally in the town of Galva and bought that in 2020 and then started looking, getting [00:20:00] quotes on a, on a new building.

So that happened. In 2020, we got quotes in 2021, the construction happened, and you know, those years, obviously the quotes were much lower than what construction costs were.

Tommy Cole: earlier, huh? Yeah.

Olin Unruh: Yeah. And even now it looks like a good deal. So

Tommy Cole: yeah. Even now

Olin Unruh: just crazy. You Yeah. I mean, your, your facility, you know, you, yeah. You, you hosted, last month, your peer group members and listen, you know, it's a new facility, right? Yeah.


Tommy Cole: At the end of the day, what I like about, it's the simplicity of it that, Olin, it's just a square building.

It's a rectangle. It's got four walls and a roof. But what it does is it's got a, it's got an office space, it's got shop space, and it's, it's inviting for a team to, to work out of. Right. I like the simplicity of it. It, it's usable, it's got big doors. tell me how that facility's worked out for you guys so far.[00:21:00]

Olin Unruh: It's worked out really good. I mean, of course we, we love it. I feel like it has given us a lot more credibility even, I feel like it's attracting better people and I, you know, these are intangibles in a way. I think there's more to attracting better people than having a great building, obviously, but people want to come to work at some place that looks successful.

And, you know, I think that's, I think that's important as well. and then just the efficiency of having everything in one location. it, you know, receipts and things can get directly brought to the office. you know, the office manager is in the huddle in the morning, so, You know, gets the latest fresh intel from the technicians. there's just been a lot of, a lot of upsides to it.

Peer Groups

Tommy Cole: Yeah, I agree with you. It's been, it's been great. So tell me about this peer group you're in. Olin, you, it, it was something that came across you, you, I, I'm not sure how you're feeling [00:22:00] about it, but I think you had a previous coach before. And listen, you're a fan of reading books and, and and learning as much information you can from books.

And, and mentors and coaches. why the, why join a peer group and then tell me why, and then tell me what's, what's been the latest for you to be around, you know, 10 other business owners and kind of share, share the, ups and downs of a landscape owner.

Olin Unruh: Yeah, so I mean, kind of the reason for joining, like you said, I, I did have a coach and, and she was just a general business coach, right? She had clients in every type of industry and you know, she could really coach me on business fundamentals, which was what I needed probably the most right then, but, Then as, as I grew a little bit and, and we got some of those fundamentals, under our belts a little bit, then I started [00:23:00] wanting, you know, more industry specific coaching.

I wanted to, affiliate with other companies that were in my, you know, in the green industry that I could kinda see what they were doing and learn from. And, and that's kinda where the peer group. I felt like had the most to offer, is the other business owners that, that had to make payroll, they had to, you know, they had the same struggles that I did.

and some of them, you know, I, I really am in a sweet group. I mean, I've got those peers in the group that are, you know, bigger than I am, and I learn a lot from the challenges that they've faced and overcame. and. You know, there's a couple smaller that I hope to be able to help and, and coach along as well.

So yeah, I think just, just that part of, of the observation, I mean, coaching is one thing of, of being told [00:24:00] and, you know, helped through a lot of different things. But when you can go see these things in practice with a site visit, that's just kind of a, a totally different experience. And I. Probably real, really was a kicker is I, I went to grow in New Orleans and, you know, I had these dreams, kind of, of what I wanted this business to be and it was nowhere close. And a lot of times I felt like that probably wasn't realistic.

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Olin Unruh: And I went to grow and I went to Mullen and I saw the rollout and I saw, you know, how clean, how happy everybody was. I'm like,

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Olin Unruh: It totally, you


Tommy Cole: changed your mind, huh?

Olin Unruh: on like, this is very possible, this kind of, this feeling that you've had, that you're not, you know, you're not at your potential here.

And that there's more to it than, you know, just going out there and sweating and, and working and you can actually build a [00:25:00] company like this. I mean, that to me was a huge thing. And, and just until you see that and witness it, you know, it's, it is just kind of a dream. And now it's like, hey, this is real. We can do it.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, it, it's, it's amazing to go around the country at your peers or the grow events every year and just see what else is out there. It, I feel like it's a motivational boost. It's a, I can't do this because someone else has done it.

Although they're not perfect. but, you come back from your trip and go, oh my gosh, you're ready to run through a brick wall.

And, you got so much on your mind. You sort of, you might even overload the team when you come back and go, oh boy, Olin went on a trip again. Here we go.

We've got a, a list of things, new things to do, but. You know, that's what it's all about at the end of the day. Right? That, that's, that's, everyone's sharing the, the same ulcer.

And [00:26:00] that's what, that's what's great about it. Olin, so next steps for you. I mean, here we go. Like, you know, digging trenches, literally trenches, from dairy farm to trenches, to owner operator, to now hiring the first few people to turf care, to Christmas decor. You got a team, you got a facility. Now, I would even argue this is the hard part, just as much as what it was before, but it's a totally different dynamic.

Being a Mentor, Coach, & Manager

Tommy Cole: The hard part, what you were doing now is owner operator. Now you gotta be a coach and a mentor, and a teacher, and a cheerleader. Tell me the dynamics that you've probably had to learn the hard way of like, okay, now I have to manage a team.

Olin Unruh: Well, I wish I could say I had learned it already. I, I'm still very much learning that because I'm a, I'm kind of a [00:27:00] impatient, like, let's get this thing done. Let's fix it. What are you waiting on? And you just, you have to lay a lot of that down when it comes to, Managing others and, and coaching and leading and, and getting them to buy into the company and the mission and, and the vision and get them to want to do the things that you need them to do. And it's, it's been a real challenge because that, you know, that temptation of like, I'll just go do it myself. I, I have given into that one far too many

Tommy Cole: Yeah. Yep.

Olin Unruh: it's not, you know, that undermines the team. It, it does not help. and so just really slowing down a little bit and learning to communicate, that's probably been a, a tough one for me.

I, I'm, I'm probably a chronic [00:28:00] overthinker and there's a lot going on in my head, but I'm really not saying a lot. and. Just like explaining like now when I go out with the team, it's like I explain everything I do. Here's why I'm doing this. Here's, you know, here's why I do it this specific way. just coaching them and, and training them to, you know, do things the wetlands way.

is, is probably the biggest focus. I mean this, this spring, this year alone is, I would say my number one priority has been training. it's just we're, we're growing. We, we've got a lot of opportunity to expand, to some other markets. And it's just now to have the technicians that can carry our name out there and, and do good work and, and that's probably the real, that's the biggest challenge I would say right now.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, it's, it's common for business owners, right?

I think we're we. You know, as, [00:29:00] as business owners and entrepreneurs, we just want to get in and get it done right? And, so you're having to find that sweet spot of, motivating your staff and also knowing that what their strengths are. You know, not everyone is, up and at 'em like Olin is, right?

Not everyone's, some, some are more strategic, some are more, you know, the doers. some wanna learn more. and understanding the real meaning behind it, and you have, you have to find out how that is with your entire team and, and navigate that. That's great.

Core Values

Tommy Cole: Olin, one of the things that, that stood out to me is, you're a very humble guy and when you're, when you post your core values, in your shop, they're, they're just in your face.

And, I think it shows a lot. You know, let me read some of these off to you. passion is one of 'em, and, and I think, I think it comes a lot from you. gracious respect, think like a customer honesty and, and, personal responsibility that that explains you and your team. What does it mean to have those specific core [00:30:00] values in your business?

Olin Unruh: Well, it's just gives you a foundation, you know, something that you can talk about and that you can use in, in hiring and interviewing. You can, you know, you can give examples and you can ask for, you know, what does this mean to you? I mean, you find out what. What kind of resonates? I mean, obviously I've never interviewed someone yet that said, well, I don't believe in those core values.

But you can typically find, you know, have some questions, have them give some examples of what that core value means to 'em. And, and it just gives you a lot of, of foundation, I feel like, in order to, you know, hire the people that fit the culture. And that's, you know, yeah, that's a whole other subject.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, I, I love you. You mentioned it earlier, think like a customer. Oftentimes we just sort of complain about a customer, [00:31:00] right?

But if we put ourselves in their shoes, I think it's a game changer at the end of the day. And I, I love that core value by you guys.

Olin Unruh: Yeah. It's, it's huge. I, I mean, we, We have another. Every morning we, we have this code, it's called the trust code. And you know, one of the, one of the parts of it is, you know, we seek to understand our clients' needs and provide solutions. And, and one of the things that's so frustrating to me or fascinating is, is better say, is when.

When a technician goes to a client or, or my sales guy goes there and they misunderstand the client, the client wants a simple sprinkler head moved and they, they come up with this big elaborate design of, oh, we gotta do all this. And I'm like, did you really think like that customer? Did you really put yourself in their shoes and try to understand what they wanted?

you know, we just, we just had a, [00:32:00] I was training a new. Technician a week or two ago, and, and you know, he has this work order. It says, you know, move all these heads, you know, check through the system. And he goes out there and they're like, puts out 50 flags of all these little things that need done. I'm like, you know, hold on a second, let's talk to the homeowner and see what she's really after.

And she's just like, oh, I'm not really that particular. I just got these couple of heads that are kind of doubled up over here, and if, if you could just take a couple of those out, that's all I really need. And I get turned what looked like a five hour job into about 30 minutes, you know, and she's happy, and we're happy.

And I'm like, that's where that comes from is you have to seek to understand what does this client really want. If you have questions, Ask them. I mean, you know, nothing more frustrating than taking a simple job and just because you weren't willing to, you know, talk to 'em or put yourself in their shoes, you cover, you complicate it.

And [00:33:00] now you know, you spent way more time and you could have been doing other things and they're not really even, they're no happier. They may be less happy cuz now they probably paid two or three times as much.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. Yeah. that's a, that's a great understanding. I think we overcomplicate things as, as most businesses do, you know, understanding what the client needs. Like, listen, just come do what I asked to do and get it done, and we're on your way and that level of service. She's gonna call you back for the next thing, but could you provide something else to the client after the, the, the, the problem was resolved?

Yeah, absolutely. But get that resolved first and then maybe go, all right, you know, we could also do this and this and this at some point. But I love, I love that approach.

Olin Unruh: it just frees up your time. I mean, like that one in particular we did, we, we had the opportunity then to, you know, We checked through the whole system, we upsold a couple of little things and, yeah, it was, it's just important to, [00:34:00] yeah, to have that inquisitive. I, I wanna add that probably a new core value coming is, you know,

Tommy Cole: here we go.

Olin Unruh: be curious, like,

Tommy Cole: Let's go.

Olin Unruh: you know,

Tommy Cole: Yeah. I.

Olin Unruh: anyway.

Book Recomendations

Tommy Cole: That's great, Olin. So you recommended a book, Emith. What's another, i, I, I know you're sitting in front of your bookcase cuz I know where it's located. What's, what's another one you recommend for our audience?

Olin Unruh: Well, the, you know, I have a lot of favorite books and it, a lot of them just kind of depend on what, what stage you are in business, because as you know, you, you change and you grow a lot. emith again, that's like the entry level, like,

Tommy Cole: Yep. I love it.

Olin Unruh: if you wanna, if you wanna learn anything about business, start with the E-Myth. another one of, of my favorites is called, the Road Less Stupid. And the author [00:35:00] slips my mind right now, but just a super common sense book on some little things you can do that help you take the road less stupid. because we get going along and, and we think our ideas are great, and he just really, you know, teaches you how to take time and, and really look at the opposite sides of your choices and decisions.

And, and, you know, I wish I could say that I'd done better at that, but it's, it's still something I'm, something I'm learning. And the, and the book that I'm reading currently, aside from my peer group reading is called Thou Shalt Prosper.

And it's, it's by a, it's by a Rabbi, rabbi Daniel Lapin. And it has, it's a very insightful book on overcoming some of the guilt that I think some business owners might feel, even from, you know, being prosperous and, and making money, to just, yeah, just [00:36:00] a lot of bus, good business philosophy and. That's, that's my current read. I'm actually on my second time through it. I, I do audible, so a lot of times I'll, I'll hit 'em twice just because I, you know, you miss stuff.

Tommy Cole: you could, you get a lot of information out on the second time, the stuff that you

Olin Unruh: yeah, I mean, there's just a ton of stuff that like, oh, I don't remember hearing that. You know, and, and, yeah. Pretty, pretty good stuff.

Wrap Up

Tommy Cole: Yeah. So, Olin, as, as we wrap up here, I always take a lot of, a lot of good notes and, and I want, to leave. I always like to leave a few nuggets for people listening. This is, this is the best part of it. and a as I'm, as I'm reading these off, man, you know, if there's anything else, one more to add then, then jump in.

But, You know, one of the things that resonates me the most, several of 'em are, is think like a customer. And, and oftentimes I, like I said earlier, we complain about a customer at, at all the day. And if, if you have a policy in your office to never complain about a customer, cuz if you [00:37:00] complain 'em, then we have no work.

I, I love the, I, I think you've built a great foundation being in the irrigation business because time is of the essence, right? Nothing's more critically masked than no water on a lawn or no water on the landscape. So you have to be very, on your game, so to speak, to perform a product under a given amount of pressure, because, listen, they're not calling you because everything's groovy.

They're calling you because they can't get water going. Right. and, and so that's be able to, with that mindset as being able to build your business to what you are today. which is, which is great. You know, one of, one of the other things is, is is understanding the client provide a solution that, that, that hits me.

Pretty hard. It gets a little confusing with most people, but understanding what their needs are, provide a solution and go on their merry way. Nine times outta 10, they're gonna call Owen back for more business. Right.[00:38:00]

what, what else do you have to add for audience? Anything else?

Olin Unruh: Well, I'm, I'm happy to put a plug in for you guys. You know, I, I would not be where I'm at without, you know, my first business coach without the, you know, peer group, the site visits. if you're, if you're feeling burned out, you're feeling like. You know, you're, you're not at your potential and you're not doing what you could be.

Nothing will open your eyes more than, you know, go to the Grow conference, go do a site visit of, of a company that you're probably not there. It's gonna take you many years to get there. It took them a lot of years to get there, but it's just a great way to really flesh out a dream. And probably the last thing I would say is just that, and this is for me a hundred percent, is that.

Your business cannot grow any faster than you do, and you have to constantly be learning and [00:39:00] expanding your mindset and you know, your way of thinking because the business requires different things of you at every different stage. And, and as you, as we've talked, you know, I'm in a stage now where, yeah, you know, the easy thing is for me to go out and change a sprinkler head, you know,

if. It's the hard part is saying, no, I've got team members that can do that. And even if, even if it's only 75%, 70% as good as you would do it, I mean, that's, that's still better than you going and doing it. And that's a, that's a hard lesson to learn.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, totally. Yeah. I think owners are always sort of gonna jump in and save the day at the end of the day. And that's what we can't do. gotta coach our team, mentor our team in, in order to handle those, in order to handle those circumstances.

Awesome stuff. You're always a, good student in the peer [00:40:00] groups.

you're always wanting to learn, always see at the conferences, especially grow every year. Even our, our, our team loves talking to you just because you're just, down to earth guy and wants to, wants to get better. And so it's great to have you on our show and, and enjoy. I definitely enjoyed the, the state of Kansas, to the extreme it was.

I, I took some beautiful sunset pictures and, I haven't seen anything like that in a really long time, so I got a little bit of, got a bit of little love for you in Kansas.

Olin Unruh: Yeah, I, I really, it was fun. The weather cooperated. We had beautiful weather and I, I felt like a lot of people in my peer group came away with a little different, maybe a little more respect for Kansas than I got before. So, I mean, it is what it is, but it's, it's, you know, it's home for me and, and, it's a good, it's a good place to be for sure.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, I love it. Everybody was super friendly. The food was amazing. Meeting your wife was, was awesome. She probably gets to understand why you're, you're out of town a few [00:41:00] times a year and, she probably is totally okay with that. Now that we've, we've all met

Olin Unruh: Yeah. It's, it's, it's getting better so,

Tommy Cole: Thank you Olin. It's been a pleasure buddy. We'll see you soon.

Olin Unruh: Yeah. Thank you Tommy. Thanks for everything you guys do.

See ya.

John: Ready to take the next step? Download our free Profitability Scorecard to quickly create your own baseline financial assessment and uncover the fastest ways to improve your business. Just go to McFarlinStanford.com/scorecard to get yours today To learn more about McFarlin Stanford our best in class peer groups and other services go to our website at McFarlinStanford.com And don't forget to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. See you next time on the Roots of Success.