When Will Blanton first inherited the family business from his grandfather in 1997, he had high aspirations for the company that had been a staple in Fayetteville, North Carolina, since 1951.
Growing into Business Ownership
Though he was an experienced HVAC technician, 22-year-old Will quickly realized he had no idea how to actually run the business. With his first child on the way and his wife laid off from her job, he realized it was time to get serious about growth. He also realized he didn’t have a clue where to start.
“That was a defining moment for me,” Will remembered. “I decided, if we’re gonna do this, let’s do it. I became a student of business.”
Borrowing $500 for a business course, Will sat front and center on the first day, determined to absorb every word. After that first class, he sat up late and sketched out his first business plan on a sheet of yellow paper. It was a big plan — he would generate $1 million in business that year.
Will achieved that goal, and over the years Blanton’s has flourished, generating revenue of $3 million to $4 million annually. Will continued taking classes on HVAC best practices and implementing what he learned. Things were going great … until they weren’t. Several years passed with little or no revenue growth, and Will felt frustrated and stuck.
A Lucky Run-In with EOS
In 2013, Gino Wickman gave a talk in one of Will’s business classes, and Will was quickly hooked. He realized that his strategy of learning best practices in the HVAC industry wasn’t enough to lead a growing business. He needed an internal growth structure as well.
Will gathered his wife, an installation manager, a salesman, and a bookkeeper together for their first 90 Minute Meeting with an EOS Implementer®, and they all immediately realized how this could transform the trajectory of Blanton’s.
“We were at a stalemate as a company,” Will said. “But as we continued to learn more about the industry best practices, we also implemented EOS internally. That catapulted us to the next level.”
Blowing Hot and Cold on Core Values
As a multi-generation family business, change was hard. For too long, the company had tolerated high performers who didn’t align with the values. As the leadership team became more intentional in putting the right people in the right seats and identifying pain points, the business experienced staff turnover. When the number of technicians dropped from eight to three, Will found himself running service calls to cover the gap. But they knew they were on the right path forward.
“In many ways, this was a litmus test for our core values,” Will said. “We had to decide who we were and use those values to hire and fire people. Then the company culture started shifting. Attitudes changing.”
With clear core values in place and a commitment to upholding them, Blanton’s Air, Plumbing and Electric could now onboard new team members who were the right fit.
Getting Ducts in a Row
After a few iterations, Will worked with his EOS Implementer to rethink their original vision. Including their employees in drafting it, they steered away from previous 10-year goals anchored around numbers. Instead, the entire organization voted on the current vision: to be the biggest and best home service provider in North Carolina with unwavering commitment to their community and family culture.
Blanton’s continued to improve in all aspects of business by using EOS. They held more efficient meetings. They focused on key metrics. Will learned to Delegate and Elevate™ and found he even had time for personal development.
“We [had been] an organization where the owner was holding it back,” Will said. “The organization was not growing or developing because I was not growing or developing.”
A Vision for Doing Well to Do Good
Maintaining the culture of family and community was very important to the Blanton’s employees, especially through the growth. Regarding their 70-plus years in business in North Carolina, their website says, “Blanton’s honors the old-school, feel-good type of service that brings you back to the good ol’ days.”
Bringing this front and center, they launched “Coolidge Cares,” a quarterly giveback that lets clients nominate a worthy charity or organization to receive a check for $1,500. Taking Will’s grandfather’s middle name, the program brings the company vision — and that of his grandfather — to life. For those families that need repairs but cannot afford the service call, the services are free.
“Coolidge Cares honors my grandfather and does something great for the community,” Will explained. “We empowered the service technicians to make a call on when to use the program without getting approvals. We said, if the technician was willing to donate their time, we’re willing to donate the materials. The team really took to that, and we’ve had so many awesome experiences seeing the results.”
Today, Will feels he truly understands the meaning of The EOS Life®. He defines success by being able to do what he wants, whenever he wants, with whoever he wants. The future looks bright for this business that has a clear understanding of who they are and where they want to go, thanks to EOS.