University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Episode 165: Making Business a Team Sport with Charley Boyce

March 09, 2022  |  By Matt Waller

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This week Matt sat down with Charley Boyce, president of Paschal Air, Plumbing & Electric, to discuss the challenges in expanding his company, lessons learned in baseball that apply to the business world and how business is a team sport. Learn more about Charley, along with Paschal Air, Plumbing & Electric.

Episode Transcript

Charley Boyce  0:00  
What made us successful in baseball, that kind of team mentality makes us very successful over here is just, let's put together a world class team with a bunch of like minded individuals and let's go have some fun and be successful.

Matt Waller  0:15  
Excellence, professionalism, innovation and collegiality. These are the values the Sam M. Walton College of Business explores in education, business and the lives of people we meet every day. I'm Matt Waller Dean of the Walton College. Welcome to the be epic podcast. I have with me today, Charley Boyce, president at Paschal, air plumbing and electric. He has been with them since 2010. But he actually bought the company in 2012. We're going to be talking about that. He graduated from the Walton College in 2005. So Charlie, thanks for taking time to visit with me today about your background.

Charley Boyce  0:57  
Thanks for having me. Super excited to be here. Really appreciate it.

Matt Waller  1:00  
So Charlie, where did you grow up?

Charley Boyce  1:02  
So I was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, went school there raised there, and then, you know, found my way over to the University of Arkansas graduated in  01. And then came to school here at the University of Arkansas and played baseball here. So that's what brought me over here.

Matt Waller  1:16  
You were Razorback baseball pitcher, three time captain. And you led the hogs to the 2004 College World Series that is quite an accomplishment.

Charley Boyce 1:27  
We were very fortunate had a lot a lot of success. I think we were kind of part of the group that put baseball back on the map. But the people they got in there today are a little bit more talented than in our group that was there. 

Matt Waller  1:38  
You are a young person. I'm 57. And so you seem young  to me, but you really have accomplished a lot. I mean, majoring in business and playing baseball. That's that's a lot to juggle.

Charley Boyce  1:50  
It had its set of challenges. But I was first kind of generation going to college. I think like I was going to be successful at that. But I enjoyed going to class every day. And I enjoyed playing baseball every day. So those were the two things I really kind of sunk my teeth into, you know, just keeping a schedule to with baseball, they were going to make sure you were going to school too there's no way to kind of nail that in you had to be eligible, but I really did enjoy it. It worked really well for me.

Matt Waller  2:15  
When you graduated, you move back to Tulsa for a while. Is that correct?

Charley Boyce  2:20  
No, I actually stayed here. So yeah, whenever I graduated, and I was done playing, I didn't really know what I was going to do was I going to go back to school and get my MBA or enter the workforce or my family has an HVAC company that my grandfather started. So I'm third generation in the trades. I went to work for a supply house. So I was in HVAC distribution, got to know all the contractors so Paschal was actually once a customer of mine, I came to work for Paschal in 2010. And then I worked under our old owner for two years, and then I acquired the company in 2012.

Matt Waller  2:55  
When you started with the company, did you think you would eventually buy it?

Charley Boyce  2:59  
That was my goal, Yeah, absolutely. When I came in, we were obviously a lot smaller back then than we are today. But it was a good company that had been around since the 60s. You know, if you were from Northwest Arkansas, like Springdale, specifically, you knew Paschal, but a lot of people didn't know Paschal was kind of the best kept secret little company and our old owner, he didn't really have an exit strategy. He was in his maybe early 60s At the time when I hired on I mean, I told him with that intent, like, hey, my goal is to work for you for a couple years, and then eventually buy you out. I can't say that he took me super serious at the time, but you know, eventually kind of came to pass.

Matt Waller  3:36  
Well, you had only been out of the U of A, for a few years, seven years, when you bought the company,

Charley Boyce  3:44  
I acquired a company, I believe I was maybe 28 or 29.

Matt Waller  3:48  
Then again that's pretty young for your first acquisition. And now you've been owning it for nine years. How did you think through plan and orchestrate the acquisition? Have you witnessed such an acquisition before?

Charley Boyce  4:04  
No, I was just figuring it out on the fly. I've worked in a great company, right? So I was a part of Paschal for two years. I mean, the good news is I was a part of the fabric of the company. I knew everybody I knew our old owner, you know, he was ready to exit and retire. So I mean, we were all on board, and we were all kind of working in the same direction. So that that was positive. I wasn't an outsider just buying a company. You know, we have a CFO here who's really good, and he kind of helped me, him and I have kind of functioned as partners for the last 10 years. Obviously a great learning experience at a young age. You know, we've done a couple of since then, but looking back, you don't think about it, you know, you're just kind of going through and doing it. You know, I've made plenty of mistakes along the way. But yeah, it just kind of works itself out.

Matt Waller  4:48  
How many employees did you have when you acquired it?

Charley Boyce  4:51  
When I got here in 2010, I think we were maybe 15 plus or minus a couple and then took over in 12. We were probably 20 to 25. Today, we're right at 200. So it's been a lot of growth over the last 10 years for sure. 

Matt Waller  5:05  
200 

Charley Boyce  5:06  
Yeah, it is a lot of growth, we averaged 20% growth year over a year for the last number of years. And then the last couple years specifically has really been a lot of growth. We're getting now to where we're, we're doubling every 24-36 months. It's a challenge. And we just got to keep a handle on it and make sure we're, you know, we got good processes in place and people in place to keep up with the growth.

Matt Waller  5:31  
The two things you mentioned, are challenging the people, processes and systems to support the processes. And then also the funding, you know, even if you're making a profit, it's no simple matter to fund that kind of growth.

Charley Boyce  5:47  
You're 100% right. So to date, we have funded our own growth, right, like we've just done it through traditional finance and the banking institutions. And for me, it's just about growing the business and watching our people be successful. What is your territory? We started in Northwest Arkansas in March of 20, we acquired a company in southwest Missouri in the Joplin market, February, March of this year 21, we put up a facility in Fort Smith, Arkansas. So we now have three locations.

Matt Waller  6:14  
You've gone from having a handful of people to a couple 100. That's a big challenge. It's hard to find good people, and then you got to train them, help them to understand and become a part of the culture that you've created. How do you do that?

Charley Boyce  6:30  
It was a lot harder early. And it's still something that is not necessarily easy, but it's almost kind of this virtuous cycle. It's a lot of time, energy and effort early. And it's just the culture, it's what you do every day. And it's how we conduct ourselves how we talk to each other, how we talk to customers, it's just what we do. We're very intentional on what it is to be Paschal. At the end of the day, our culture's our most important thing are people in a service based business like ours, not a whole lot of what we do is proprietary. Everyone can go buy trucks, everyone can hire people, everyone can do what we do, I mean, but we just offer a service, and making sure we have happy customers and happy employees, I mean that that is what is differentiating in our market. If we're delivering on both of those fronts, you know, the company is going to be on good footing, and we're going to we're going to keep growing.

Matt Waller  7:22  
Well, as you get bigger, more processes need to be in place. And it's hard to implement new processes. And it's sometimes hard to scale existing processes. Because when firms are small, you can have labor intensive processes. But as they scale, you've got to start automating using technology. How have you managed that?

Charley Boyce  7:46  
Well, not well, we've made a lot of mistakes along the way, you're 100% accurate in that we look at fulfillment or ops and execution, and how are we doing? And when you're running 20-50 70- 80 people, it's one thing in one location when you got your thumb on it, but then as you start getting 100 employees 150 200 different locations. Now it's how do we how do we produce it scale. And solving for scale is something that's a little bit more challenging, but at the same time, once you get it right, then a lot of the growth comes a little bit easier, because the solutions you put in place are scalable. It's something that we're always working on mindset, that's kind of how I'm geared is to make sure I'm removing bottlenecks. And in growing and scaling, you know, one saying I heard one time that always works with me is we're too busy mopping up the water to turn off the sink. A lot of times our solution is just to throw more mops at it. But like, let's take a step back. What do we need to do to turn the water off? That's kind of our solution is when we constantly keep coming up against a problem. Are we trying to turn off the sink? Or are we just throwing more mops at this, we brought an individual in who's another university Arkansas alum from Houston, he actually used to work at Exxon, but he is just a process engineer. So we brought him in. And that was my whole thing to him is hey, we got to make this scalable, right? We have this really good business. But we need to learn to 2x 3x 4x our output, with not 2x 3x 4x and our people. So that's his whole job is just to streamline operations. And he's he's been very helpful.

Matt Waller  9:24  
That was smart of you. I mean, I think a lot of times, entrepreneurs at your stage, they don't think that far ahead. But the investment you make in that is just so valuable.

Charley Boyce  9:36  
Yeah, I think in the first five, six years of owning and running the business, I didn't make those decisions, probably pull my hair out trying to keep up with it. But I think get to a point where like, Alright, there's got to be a better way you can keep doing what you're doing, or you know, you can take a step back and so that's the way I look at it. I'm either working in the business or on the business, and my whole role is to work on the business. Not necessarily in it every day. And so all I try to do is architect and put the right people in the right seats and making sure we're flowing the right way. But if I'm stuck in the business, then the business is never really going to grow. What's your vision for the future? We want to keep going. We're looking at adjacent markets right now Springfield, Little Rock, Tulsa, North Dallas, just in that whole area, I want to keep going, like you said, we're young, we've had some success. And we have this really good company in this part of the world. And I really want to take the show on the road and just build out a world class service organization that serves a region.

Matt Waller  10:38  
You have even when you were in school, you had interest in eventually building your own business. You didn't see yourself as being a corporate kind of guy you didn't like the to be a part of the bureaucracy in a formal type of a situation. And yet you wanted to build a great business. What are some ways you're you're doing that?

Charley Boyce  11:00  
Yeah, I don't think I would do well, in a corporate environment. I like to move fast. What made us successful in baseball, that kind of team mentality, we win together, we lose together, what made us successful there makes us very successful over here is just, let's put together a world class team with a bunch of like minded individuals. And let's go have some fun and be successful. I don't know that I was thinking about it at the time, but just taking baseball, and then what I grew up doing, HVAC just kind of found a way to marry those two worlds. And we're, we've had some success at it. And we're we're having a lot of fun in the process.

Matt Waller  11:37  
That's interesting, especially what you're saying about your experience with baseball. Of course, you were three time captain for the Hogs baseball team. So you're saying that that experience helped you in terms of team building today?

Charley Boyce  11:53  
Without question business, in my opinion, like it's very much a team sport. I mean, yes, you need to be good at what you do. But you need to get that whole organization performing well. So it doesn't matter how good I am. It's about the whole place, and how well can the whole organization function? I think the stuff that we learned in team sports or baseball, or how to lead or servant leadership, or accountability, and just helping each other out, that very much translates over to the business world.

Matt Waller  12:22  
Again, I'm really impressed with what you have done. In a short time you've been out of the Walton College, congratulations on that. But what advice do you have for students?

Charley Boyce  12:34  
You know, looking at my own path, it was a maybe a little bit unconventional, it makes a lot of sense now, because of what we've been able to build. But heating and air is not real sexy, you can bring a lot of fun or sophistication, like HVAC is not the super innovative market. So we were able to apply a certain level of team atmosphere and sophistication and technology to kind of an unsophisticated industry. And we were able to have a little bit of success and still do so people say follow your passion. I think there's some truth to that now, you still have to pay the bills. So I think you kind of got to marry both of those two. But when I was in the supply house business, we were good at it, but I was not fulfilled at a certain level. I felt like it was Groundhog Day. And I was bored. Now I work three times as hard. But I enjoy what I do. And I almost have to peel myself out of here. So you know, I have some buddies that are very successful, very intelligent, but you can tell that they're not fulfilled in their jobs. So I would just say, find your passion, find what you would do if you didn't have to pay bills, and then maybe see if there's a way you can monetize it. And you might be surprised what what might happen.

Matt Waller  13:55  
Great advice. Thank you so much, Charley, for taking time to visit with me today. And congratulations on your terrific success in business.

Charley Boyce  14:06  
Thanks for having me. Really appreciate it.

Matt Waller  14:08  
On behalf of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, I want to thank everyone for spending time with us for another engaging conversation. You can subscribe by going to your favorite podcast service and searching. Be epic B E EP IC

Matt WallerMatthew A. Waller is the dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Sam M. Walton Leadership Chair and professor of supply chain management. He is also the host for the Be EPIC Podcast for Walton College.

 

Walton College's EPIC values -- Excellence, Professionalism, Innovation and Collegiality -- are the heart of Dean Waller’s podcast. Since the beginning of the series, Waller has interviewed business professionals, industry experts, CEOs and Walton College students to bring listeners first-hand accounts directly from the entrepreneurial world.

 

Waller is an SEC Academic Leadership Fellow and coauthor of “The Definitive Guide to Inventory Management: Principles and Strategies for the Efficient Flow of Inventory across the Supply Chain,” published by Pearson Education. He is the former co-editor-in-chief of Journal of Business Logistics. His opinion pieces have appeared in Wall Street Journal Asia and Financial Times.

 

Waller received an M.S. and Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University and a B.S.B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Missouri.





Walton College

Walton College of Business

Since its founding at the University of Arkansas in 1926, the Sam M. Walton College of Business has grown to become the state's premier college of business – as well as a nationally competitive business school. Learn more...

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We're sitting down with innovators and business mavericks to discuss strategy, leadership and entrepreneurship. The Be EPIC Podcast is hosted by Matthew Waller, dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. Learn more...

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