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Beating the Odds in Business and Life

Beating the Odds in Business and Life

DJ Folkes says he’s never satisfied with the success of his company. “I hold myself to high standards, with a constant challenge to do better and grow as a person and as a business.

I do everything at 100%, or I don’t do it.”

DJ owns Folkes Home Services in Fishkill, New York, a plumbing and HVAC company founded by his father, Dustin Folkes, in 1998, with one service truck. Now, with 40 employees and 25 trucks, DJ is using the business and life skills his father taught him prior to his passing in April of 2021 to “build an empire” that he’s taken from $5.6 million to $9 million in just one year, and on track to reach $14 million by the end of 2022.

Beating the Odds

With gratitude and admiration for the love and care Dustin Folkes, Sr. provided, DJ credits his father for teaching him that he had to earn people’s respect. He also credits his dad with helping to save his life. “I was a heroin addict, and I should be dead. I knew a lot of people who died and are still dying. Thank God I got sober when I did. Had I not, I wouldn’t have been able to learn how to run the business from my dad, and the company would have died.”

DJ says the success of Folkes Home Services is a re-write of the script of his life. “I’m blessed to be in this position and be present to run this company. The fact that I’m alive is a blessing in and of itself. I had a father who cared about me and never gave up on me. It was a dark time for everyone in my family.”

With five years of sobriety behind him, DJ believes he’s already met the greatest challenge of his life. He says, “There are no business challenges I will face that will be harder than my addiction, or any business achievement that will mean as much to me as my sobriety. That’s why I’m never satisfied.” Whatever business challenges DJ faces, he won’t do it alone. His brother, sister, and stepmother work at the company, along with a team of dedicated employees who respect him. “They know I worked my way up from cleaning the bathrooms, and I learned the business from my dad. We set expectations and everyone is responsible for meeting them, including me. It’s awesome to work together, but we also have our struggles because we have no problem voicing our opinions to each other. We argue sometimes, but at the end, we usually come up with better solutions.”

DJ’s relentless determination has driven him to set a personal goal of reaching $30 million in revenue by 2030. “My dad and CEO Warrior have gotten me this far, and CEO Warrior will help me reach this goal,” he says. “They have the most impact on my mindset in business and in life. They believe I can do it, and they’re showing me how to do it, so there’s nothing that can stop me and my team, other than my limiting our expectations. CEO Warrior has given us a roadmap and the blueprints to build a home service empire, and all we have to do is implement it.”

Hire for commitment and train your way

DJ believes he could interview the most experienced technicians who are good at selling and can put out the numbers, but if they don’t have the customer service mentality his company is known for, it doesn’t matter how much money they bring in. Therefore, he prefers to hire apprentices and train them in his customer service-based culture. He feels, “If they’ve worked for a company that isn’t as focused on customer service, it’s harder to break their old habits, and people don’t always like to change.”

Company culture

A “can do” attitude is critical to the company culture that both generations of Folkes’

hold dear, and the key to its family atmosphere is leading by example, with no ego, and no drama. DJ says, “We have an ‘all for one’ mentality. If a technician gets caught on a job and other techs are finished, they head over to lend a hand. Three techs recently volunteered to work, without being asked, because of extreme heat and anticipation of a high volume of AC calls.”

Taking good care of employees and their families is important to DJ, as it was for his father. Summer barbecues at DJ’s house, monthly breakfast meetings, birthdays, and anniversary celebrations show employees they’re valued, but Milk Shake Monday’s take it over the top.

“My dad started Milk Shake Monday’s, giving technicians the opportunity to stop by our local dairy bar to pick up a shake on us during summer months,” says DJ. “Door Dash delivers shakes to our installers and office staff, giving everyone a positive mindset at the start of the week. With Milk Shake Monday’s I feel like I’m honoring my dad and protecting our culture.

This culture led CEO Warrior to create the DJ Folkes Legacy Award, and DJ is happy his father is being honored with the award. “Dad was one of their first members, and the award honors the team culture he created. A customer first mindset was everything to my dad. He took care of his employees and made the company an enjoyable place to work. Without that, we wouldn’t be growing as we are. There’s nothing more important than protecting your culture.”

DJ’s next goal

DJ wants to add an electrical division because given the strength of his brand, he feels it’s low hanging fruit. “We’re already in customer homes and they love us, so all we have to do is offer the service. We’ll need a good and efficient process, but I don’t think we’ll have trouble finding techs.” And DJ is used to taking risks. “I hired a plumbing director after just a year and a half of ownership. It was a big move with a big salary. At that point, our plumbing division had three plumbing vans and two plumbers. I believed we would grow the division, if he managed it, and just one year later, we have seven plumbing vans and seven plumbers.”

DJ also believes he can reach his personal goalof $30 million by 2030. “It’s never cut and dry, so CEO Warrior’s support and guidance will be crucial,” says DJ. “I’m an emperor level member, and everything I know, I learned from my dad and CEO Warrior. It’s all I know. CEO Warrior is the real deal. If you’re willing to implement and work hard, they’ll give you what you need to build YOUR empire.”