When Pete Smith started working for Current Mechanical he had no idea that one day he would become vice president of service. Smith, who started as an entry-level technician, now holds complete responsibility of the company’s service group.
“My overall duties range from building the operating plan including sales, operations, cost variance, and corporate allocations to the redemption of these goals including sales, gross profit, net profit, business development, and overall growth,” he explained. “Maintaining appropriate staff levels and any specific personnel-related issues that might come up involve me as well.”
According to Smith, the easiest way to describe his job is building and utilizing relationships while spending 50 percent of his time on the sales front.
Working to Potential
Current Mechanical, located in Fort Wayne, Ind., is a mechanical and construction contractor that focuses on commercial, industrial, manufacturing, healthcare, and higher-education facilities. The company also has residential and fire-protection segments.
Smith gained employment with the company 20 years ago, as a temperature control fitter, installer, programmer. He also serviced control systems.
After six years in the field, Smith was promoted to service manager; a position he described as a, “great learning experience.” During his time as service manager, Smith learned how to run all aspects of a service business, including scheduling, dispatching, collecting on outstanding receivables, working with subcontractors, and many other responsibilities.
As he moved on through the company, Smith was promoted again, this time he went to work as an operations manager on Current Mechanical’s construction side. While in this position, he began writing a standard-operating procedure and implemented new changes to help the business run more efficiently while improving bottom-line growth.
For the last eight years, Smith returned to the service side of the business as general manager and, most recently, vice president of service. Smith knows what it takes to be successful in the field and in the office — hard work.
“I can’t really say what led me to where I am today, other than the Current family saw something in me that I probably didn’t see myself,” he said. “They put me in a position to be successful and then I worked my butt off not to let anyone down. Twenty years later, here I am.”
Smith not only invests hard work into his career, but he also invests it into his employee and customer relationships. The company is family-owned and, as the second generation of family leadership has taken the helm, has increased its focus on relational-business policies.
“The mission is to treat our employees as well as possible and to provide an atmosphere where having fun is acceptable,” said Smith. “By creating a working environment that does not require micromanagement, putting trust in key managers to do their jobs, and endeavoring to have some fun, the company boasts a low employee-turnover rate.”
According to Smith, there is a trust of employees at Current Mechanical that creates a place where growth and new ideas can be fostered and expressed safely.
“We work in a tough business,” he said, “and the owners want our employees to enjoy coming to work.”
A relational-business model translates to Current Mechanical’s customers too. Smith, especially, enjoys face-to-face interaction with customers as he searches for solutions to the problems they bring to him.
“Whether dealing with an employee issue or closing a big project with a client, the human interaction is what I enjoy about this career the most.”
Finding success takes many paths for each individual, but for Smith, success has been found through a few basic principles. These principles center on staff choices, trust, and effective communication.
“My advice is to surround yourself with bright, intelligent people who you trust and let them do their thing,” he explained. “You have to believe in your company, your people, and your product.”
Smith shies away from micromanagement, but as a manager, he maintains the ability to step in and help his team when necessary, so as to ensure success for everyone involved. Effective communication is something that Smith stresses both to his employees and to other contractors in the industry. This includes communication not only about company vision and positive things, but also about problems or concerns that may arise.
“Don’t put your head in the sand thinking everything will work itself out without your input or direction,” he said. “Over communicate your vision and direction so everyone in your firm knows what your expectations are.”
Hard work and strong relationships are two concepts that Smith and Current Mechanical focus on as they reach toward new successes. Current Mechanical is a solution-based business that is looking to do more than change parts or deliver the same solution another competitor may be proposing.
“We try and promote ourselves in a light that conveys a certain amount of confidence along with the technological advantages our firm possesses,” explained Smith. “We always want our clients to know that Current Mechanical is looking for the very best solution to whatever particular problem they may be having.”
Part of providing individualized and proper solutions is training. Current Mechanical works closely with Local 166, as well as the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) programs to provide ongoing training for its apprentices and journeymen. The company also takes advantage of manufacturer-supplied training and supplies in-house training at times.
With hard work, training, and a commitment to success, Current Mechanical is continuing to thrive despite different economic challenges. The company has continued to grow its service business, and it partially credits that success to employee dedication.
“Staying committed to our goals helps provide the stability we need to reach the next new client,” said Smith. “And the next new client is out there somewhere.”
Publication date: 1/28/2013