Nearly 300 Nexstar Network members recently gathered in Houston to refine their leadership skills and pay tribute to the great industry leaders that came before them during the organization’s annual spring meeting.

Nexstar’s Leadership Spotlight 2017: On the Shoulders of Giants featured keynote speakers who focused on personal and professional executive management topics.

Becoming a giant of a leader requires vision, financial stability, good health, exceptional reach and influence, and knowledge of what your services are worth. The Leadership Spotlight, formerly known as the Owners Spotlight, was themed around these concepts.

“The most important ingredient in a company is inspired leadership,” said Jack Tester, president and CEO of Nexstar. “It doesn’t matter what your marketing is like, how many tools you have, or the equipment you sell, none of that matters if you don’t have really effective leaders at the top of the business. So our primary charge at Nexstar is to grow amazing leaders. Our theme this year — On the Shoulders of Giants — really pays respect to the people who came before us and gave us a vision for this industry and our businesses that we couldn’t have alone. It’s a reminder to us that it’s now our job to help those people who come behind us to have the same opportunity we did or an even greater opportunity.

“This program is really about leading our members on a journey of how to be great, effective leaders,” he continued. “We’re focused on vision casting and their stability, so they have the mental and physical capacity to be extraordinary leaders. We also focus on how to give them reach and influence, so they’re not creating a band of followers but a group of leaders.”

Keith Mercurio, director of training for Nexstar, facilitated the event, leading members into several engaging exercises after each keynote presentation. Each exercise ultimately led members into making a commitment and then identifying how that commitment would change the person’s life or business. Several members would then share their commitments with the audience.

Mercurio also focused on what it took to be an extraordinary leader.

“This event centers on everything it takes to be an extraordinary leader as it relates to being able to build yourself into somebody who is capable of taking on the responsibilities of leadership,” Mercurio said. “One of the great misconceptions is this idea that leadership is inherent or innate, whether it has to do with your communication skills or your charisma. Those are nice traits. If you have them, they can help; however, they can also be a disadvantage. What we really talked about today specifically as it relates to being an extraordinary leader is however inspired you may be, and however much vision you may have, it’s how you go about your business every day that actually really speaks to the people around you. And, we really focus on not how to build a band of followers but instead to build a band of leaders because that’s how you create a multiplying effect in the way you can propel a business. So, being extraordinary is more about how you show up to work every day than it is your capacity to communicate or to inspire for an hour here or an hour there. And we talk about extraordinary because it’s hard work to do that and to show up every day at your fullest potential.”


Matt Garrett, founder of San-Diego-based TGG Accounting, brought members through key elements of financial planning that would help them achieve financial stability. He discussed his investment model, living trusts, and life insurance and encouraged members to find a financial planner who will work for an hourly rate versus commission, disclose commissions, show how much they make for each product they offer, and will start the initial meeting by asking, “What are your goals?”

Jami Rassmussen, founder of Health Path Chiropractic in Lino Lakes, Minnesota, followed Garrett to discuss stability in health. Rassmussen introduced Nexstar members to his five pillars of health: eat well, move well, think well, sleep well, and adapt well. He shared key strategies for improving each of these.

Business growth expert John Milos kicked off day two of Leadership Spotlight by telling his story of business success through three key concepts: vision and mission, process, and culture. Using these concepts, he grew his former truck accessories company, Stylin’ Concepts, 933 percent from the time he bought it to when he sold it. He drew parallels between the auto parts industry and the trades, saying that one of the main similarities is the fact that customers don’t really want you — they’re calling because you can potentially solve their problems. He asked members to truly know what it is they do.

“Every single member of your team should know what your vision is and be able to describe it to anyone who may ask,” Milos said. “Your vision statement should be simple and clear. Structure allows vision to unfold. Procedure allows average people to deliver consistent, excellent results. It’s like driving a car: First, you have two hands on the wheel, and you’re doing everything very carefully. Eventually, when you’ve been doing it awhile, you’ve got one hand on the wheel and your other arm draped out the window.”

Philip Daus, a partner at global pricing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, built the idea of pricing power for members. Pricing power is calculated by taking the difference between your goal for the last price increase at your company and the realized price increase. Companies that have pricing power have 33 percent higher profits, Daus said.


Roger Grochmal, CEO, AtlasCare Heating & Cooling, Oakville, Ontario, Canada, joined Nexstar last year because his company is looking to expand into plumbing services.

“Nexstar is a multi-trade organization,” Grochmal said. It has developed all the processes, pricing systems, and training we needed to enter the business. Nexstar’s business coaches help you through that process. After attending our first meeting last fall and visiting a contractor in San Diego, we saw how well they were running the HVAC business and determined there were a lot of good processes we needed to implement before we get into plumbing. So, we said, let’s strengthen our core business first. As a result, we’re doing things like completely rebuilding our call center. After this event, we’re going to be including good documentation of processes and procedures.”

Grochmal enjoyed the Leadership Spotlight.

“I loved the way Keith handles what I call the soft issues – like digging down into why we do what we do, why are we here, and what’s really holding us back? Those aren’t questions we ask ourselves every day. And, those are important. That’s what leadership is all about. It’s about understanding who you are as a person, so you can provide the kind of leadership your people need. One of the big a-ha moments, and there were two for me, was that we keep trying to impose our own sense of purpose onto everyone else and expect customers to buy into who we are, but in reality, they can only buy into who they are. The second a-ha moment was to be careful not to be arrogant in our knowledge and how we should be curious in our ignorance. I wrote that one down in three different places. As an organization, I think we were probably arrogant in our knowledge. We thought we had all the answers and knew how to do everything. It turns out, we don’t. Rather than keep trying to reinvent the wheel, Nexstar has all of that through its collection of best practices. And not only do they have it; they keep updating those best practices on a regular basis. One of the hardest things to do today is to stay up to date on all of the change. As a single contractor, it’s almost impossible to do that on your own.”

Matt Bergstrom, president, Thornton & Grooms, Farmington Hills, Michigan, said Nexstar’s events keep getting better each year.

“This event focused on improving,” said Bergstrom. “Many times, we realize we aren’t where we want to be in life or business because there are ‘limiting beliefs’ that are holding us back, such as the trades are a second-rate job opportunity and most people really don’t want to work in the trades, or I’m not good at holding people accountable, so I’m never going to be a good manager or business owner,” Bergstrom said. “These are things that may hold us back as individuals; they may keep us from approaching great people who don’t work in the trades and offering them jobs or limit our abilities to work through accountability issues that keep us from being great managers or owners.

“This event was a little different than the more typical focus on operational excellence you’d expect from a home services best practice group, but not off the mark by any means,” Bergstrom continued. “It all starts and ends with our beliefs as owners. These beliefs are either going to grow our businesses or limit future growth.”  

For more information about Nexstar Network events, visit

Publication date: 4/26/2017