A True Warrior Knows To Get Out of the Way
When Ted Puzio opened his electrical service business in 1995, his office was a 1990 Dodge Dakota pick-up truck with a cap, until the president of Advanced Auto Parts gave him a big black van. Ted said, “How much do I owe you?” “Nothing,” he replied. “You work hard, and you need the van.” Ted has not forgotten this client whose act of kindness is now in the history book of his business. “I painted it white, put TP Electric on it, and I was good to go,” said Ted, who 27 years later owns a fleet of 50 service trucks, cars, and trailers, wrapped in the Southern Trust Home Services brand.
Acts of kindness are important to Ted who built a company culture that stems from his desire to improve the lives of his employees. On a recent Tuesday morning during the interview for this article, he read aloud a note he had just received from a technician who stated:
Today was my son’s first day of school, and I just wanted to share that it was a very emotional day for me. I love this boy, and I’m excited for him and very thankful I got to take him for his first bus ride
on this very special day. Thank you, Southern Trust Home Services family, for providing me
with a great place to work. and a great place to provide for my family.
Choking back the tears as he finished the message, Ted said, “I sacrificed so much because I worked from dawn to dusk to build my business. I don’t want my employees to have to do that and miss out on their kids’ ball games and other activities. I want their lives to improve while working here, and I believe they are. People are buying cars and houses, something one employee said he would never have been able to do until he got his job at Southern Trust.”
Getting to the heart of business
One of the original CEO Warrior clients, and a dedicated father himself, Ted is a hard-working visionary with a big heart. With the guidance of CEO Warrior, he took his business from his Dodge Dakota pick-up truck and $27,000 in revenues to a plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical powerhouse that serves Roanoke, Virginia. Ted grew his company from 6 employees to 65 with the help of CEO Warrior, who gave him the systems and processes he needed. “I got my butt kicked in the “backyard days” of CEO Warrior. They helped me be a better leader.”
Getting out of the way
After 40 years in the trades, Ted admits that with the support of CEO Warrior, he’s made the best decision of his business life. “They helped me understand that if I hire the right person to help run my company, I won’t have to manage them. As a result, I listened to Leslie Nolan, an employee in bath sales who came to us from the banking industry. Leslie had the confidence to step up and tell me she would like a shot at management.”
When Ted witnessed Leslie’s impressive management skills that were perfected outside of the home service industry, he let long-time ineffective managers go, made Leslie managing director, and let her run the business. “I knew I had to give up control because Leslie brings what is needed for my business to be truly successful. She knows how to talk to people, and she does a better job at leading than I do. Leslie has built a great team, and for the first time in my career, I have someone I can put faith in, so I can transition to being a consultant to Leslie and the team. I’m not retiring; I’m just getting out of the way.”
Getting out of the way has been a good thing for Ted, as well as the business. It allows him to spend the months between Labor Day and Memorial Day in Florida with his wife Lynette and do some fishing. And it’s been good for Leslie too. She now has the full attention of her staff, instead of employees looking at Ted, when she asks them a tough question.
Lessons learned from being a Warrior
Ted says he’s learned a lot in almost three decades of business ownership, especially from
CEO Warrior. “I’ve had business coaches over the years, but when I found CEO Warrior, it was life changing. I came looking for nuggets, and they propelled me forward. My Warrior mentor said, ‘Ted, would you like me to tell you the hurtful truth or comforting lies?’ I chose the hurtful truth, and it helped me grow by doing things that make me uncomfortable, leading me to hiring Leslie.”
Ted says he’s seen people come and go from Warrior because they didn’t want to hear the truth, but it’s clear to see the truth set Ted free. “Being a CEO Warrior is a life-changing experience. I had a dream, and the reality is, I had to make hard decisions to live it. And Leslie’s making hard decisions too. I got kicked out of my office this week because she needed the space, so I guess when I get back from Florida, I’ll be back to working from my truck!”