Meet the Wholesaler: Scott Weaver
Name and Title: Scott Weaver, President/CEOCompany: APR Supply Co.
Location: Lebanon, PA
No. of Branches: 37
No. of Employees: 315
Year Founded: 1922
Major Product Lines: Nortek, Heil, Fujitsu, Bradford White, American Standard, Delta, Nibco, Viega
There have been a few changes since you became involved with APR Supply Co. You are now its president and CEO. Please give us some background on the company, how you first became involved and where the company is today.
Scott Weaver: I joined APR Supply in 1990 as part of the third generation of a family-run business. At the time, APR was a regional wholesaler with four locations I was the co-owner of the fifth location. I learned firsthand about the business as an entrepreneur. Of course, my father-in-law would have asked for my resignation if I had not been successful!
In 1998, along with my brother-in-law John Tice, we purchased majority ownership from his father, Randy Tice.
In 2007, we joined a Joint Venture partnership with Schaedler-Yesco, IPS and Rumsay Electric that allowed us to co-locate to better serve our joint customers. This venture (which could be an article all to itself) has allowed us to grow significantly faster than our competition.
Today, APR is in the top 50 wholesalers of HVAC and plumbing and is the 29th largest privately held company in the region. Our customers have given us a net promoter score of 88 (for reference, Apple scored 78), which is due to our core values.
In our area, APR has been recognized for leadership and growth, winning Company of the Year, CFO of the Year and most recently Executive Team of the Year.
Our company goal is to double our size every five years.
I have followed your company for many years and have seen steady and sustained growth. If you had to narrow it down to one or two business practices or philosophies, what would they be?
Weaver: Culture eats strategy for breakfast. When we changed our corporate culture from managers to leaders and when people became our primary importance, the company grew faster.
As a company, we started using the books written by Patrick Lencioni to build a sustainable culture where coming to work on a Monday feels as good as coming to work on a Friday … the majority of the time.
In 1999, we started practicing “open book” management, where all employees could access information about every financial aspect of the company, save for confidential salary information, and participate in the profits of the company. This approach allows every employee to truly feel ownership in the company.
Where did you attend college and in what subject did you earn an undergraduate degree? I know you also have an MBA.
Weaver: I attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, receiving my undergraduate degree in business administration, with a minor in art history. I received my MBA in Finance with a concentration on entrepreneurship from Cornell.
Every wholesaler has a personal approach to managing people. What is the Scott Weaver approach?
Weaver: Always start with why, work on the what together and let everyone figure out the how.
If someone could look at your reading list (this can include websites), what would they find on the shelf or on your browser?
Weaver: Anything by Patrick Lencioni. "The Go-Giver" by Bob Burg and John David Mann. "Good to Great" by Jim Collins.
A smattering of websites I use to check the pulse of the industry by gathering data regarding industry innovation, the stock market, economy and other influencers to make the best decisions for APR.
Your wife worked in the business at some point in your career. Are there any special dynamics that people should be aware of if they work with a spouse?
Weaver: As with all relationships, I try not to make the same mistake twice.
It’s Sunday afternoon, 4 p.m., and there’s no football (yet) on TV. What does Scott do to relax?
Weaver: Relax? HA-HA-HA. If there isn’t a football game on, then it’s time for a bike ride or a workout at the gym.
Please tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know. It can be a hobby, interest or a goal that you achieved.
Weaver: My personal goal is to always make a difference in all aspects of others’ lives. Might you ask when enough is enough? My penultimate professional goal is to usher APR into a billion-dollar sales-per-year company.
When I was in high school, I played lacrosse. My coach, who was a former Division I lacrosse coach, told me that I wasn’t good enough to play Division I college lacrosse. It was a wonderful insult that only made me work harder. I proved him wrong and was the only attackman position to make it to a Division I college lacrosse team my freshman year, beating out eight others.
It is becoming a cliché to say that the internet and Amazon pose the greatest threat to wholesalers. With that in mind, what force(s) do you see as the most threatening to our industry in the next 10 years?
Weaver: The most prominent threat that has existed for the past 20 years and will most likely continue to be a threat for the foreseeable future is in attracting the best and the brightest to our industry, which is often overlooked and misunderstood. In the case of APR, we attracted over 30 young leaders to the industry and to grow with us.
If you hadn’t gone into the HVACR wholesale business, what do you think your occupation would be?
Weaver: Wall Street hedge fund manager.
What is the one piece of advice or conventional wisdom that you believed in when you started in this business and now reject or no longer accept?
Weaver: My formal education taught me that being the smartest guy in the room was what is needed for success. Over the years, I’ve discovered that having the healthiest team is actually the key to a successful organization. The indicators to determine health are: minimal intra-company politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity and low turnover.