“It’s a family business” — a phrase you often hear in the HVACR industry. But, for Michelle Shearer-Rodriguez, president and CEO of Shearer Supply Inc., Carrollton, Texas, that phrase extends far beyond the “family” name.
“They say small businesses are the fabric of America,” said Shearer-Rodriguez. And, the fabric used to design Shearer Supply is weaved with the fibers of family threaded carefully together.
Shearer-Rodriguez joined the company in 1984. After her father Wayne Shearer retired in 2005, Shearer-Rodriguez was named president. She says she feels it is a privilege to lead the company.
“I always say I received a degree from A&M, but I received my education from my dad,” she said. And the biggest lesson she learned from him “was how he treated others.”
“It is my responsibility to make sure that each employee enjoys his work day, that he or she is safe, and the environment is friendly and family oriented,” Shearer-Rodriguez said.
And, from the sounds of it, she has been living up to that responsibility since taking over the company 12 years ago. Shearer Supply has 140 employees. Of those, nearly 50 have been employed for over 10 years and 18 have over 20 years invested in the company.
“As a leader, Michelle is one-of-a-kind,” said Jose Hauxwell, who has been with the company for 19 years, currently serving as vice president of operations. “The open door policy she has is a way to let her company know that we have her attention when needed,” he said.
“I work very hard to establish and maintain a company culture that when people wake up, they look forward to coming to work,” said Shearer-Rodriguez. “I know the whole relationship thing seems to be overused, but it cannot be overstated or undervalued,” she said. “If you do the right thing, good things will happen — and we are here to be kind to each other.”
EXCEED TO SUCEED
It’s easy to open a business — anyone can do it. But, what’s not easy is opening a business and running it in such a way that it becomes a successful business. To take it one step further, it seems safe to say that it’s definitely not easy to maintain that success while traveling across the bridges of time and change.
According to Shearer-Rodriguez, the company has a word they tend to use a lot. That word is, “exceed.” What’s interesting is, she uses it in such a way that it almost becomes synonymous with change. “To exceed means not to stay in the same spot,” she said.
“If we’re not constantly changing, we’re not moving forward,” said Rick Wedow, vice president of sales, Texas. Wedow has been employed with Shearer Supply for 33 years.
“Michelle’s involvement and knowledge about every department of the business helps us understand the decisions we make as a company, and it helps us to always look for ways to improve efficiency and the customer experience,” said Hauxwell. “Continuous education and training is the key,” he added.
The company recognizes that and invests in industry meetings and conferences to provide the training needed.
“I think our company is a great example of how HARDI has made a difference,” Shearer-Rodriguez said. “I will admit, I was a dues-paying member of HARDI for many years without being involved. But, when we finally started utilizing the training, attending Focus Conferences, and sending our younger professionals to Emerging Leaders, we became a better, more informed distributor with employees that understood we were willing to make an investment in them through this organization.”
“To say that I am not concerned about the future of HVACR distribution would be untrue. I am concerned and I believe that as distributors we have our work cut out for us to be strategic and forward thinking about the industry and our place in the supply chain. It all boils down to one word, ecommerce,” said Shearer-Rodriguez.
Hauxwell agreed. “Equipment technology and ecommerce are the two biggest ongoing changes I’ve seen in the industry,” he said. “Ecommerce is an ongoing area were other industries are having great success — I believe our industry will follow.”
“As a distributor, we are bound by a territory, so ecommerce for us is a dealer tool for quicker, easier, and more efficient ordering,” said Shearer-Rodriguez. “We have some real obstacles to overcome in this industry but we also have some real opportunities that we need to exploit.”
As a woman in the trades, Shearer-Rodriguez finds herself in the minority. It’s no question, the HVACR industry is a predominately male industry. However, she said that is simply a fact, not to be mistaken as a deterrent or setback.
“Women have their place in this industry, and I will guarantee that a woman will not find a friendlier, more professional and welcoming group of people to work with. Throughout my 34 years in this industry, I have been mentored to, I have been instructed and taught, I have been allowed to listen and watch, and it has all aided me in my growth as a professional and helped me evolve into the position I hold now,” said Shearer-Rodriguez. “I was not held back.”
Shearer-Rodriguez encourages, not only women, but all millennials in general to consider work in the industry. “Let’s face it,” she said. “Not many men or women grow up saying they dream of being in HVAC.”
Publication date: 6/13/2017