Sioux Falls Winair competes and wins in a crowded local market
Like father, like son the saying goes. Kevin Severy’s father, Robert, was president of N.O. Nelson Company in Sheridan, Wyo., which was the predecessor of today’s Winnelson plumbing distributors – part of WinWholesale and the Win Group of Companies. So it was natural that Sheridan was where Kevin, now president of Sioux Falls Winair in Sioux Falls, S.D., got his start in the business when he was in high school.
He left Sheridan and made stops at several Win companies in Missouri and Nebraska to learn the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) business. One stop was an extended stay as president of Norfolk Winair (Neb.) for 17 years. He also was an area coordinator. That was a job in which he oversaw operations of local WinWholesale companies in five states in other industries, such as electronics and industrial supplies.
Then in 2002 the board of directors of Sioux Falls Winair appointed him president of the HVAC distributor. Under Kevin’s leadership, sales revenues doubled in four and a half years.
“We’ve got 25 wholesale distributors in a town of about 125,000 people. There are a lot more competitors to deal with here than in Nebraska,” Kevin said. “You’ve got to be on your A game all the time. You can’t let your guard down, but it’s been a great opportunity.”
Opportunity is the operative word
Opportunity is the operative word in WinWholesale. In fact, the phrase “the Spirit of Opportunity” is the organization’s motto that encourages individuals to be all they can be, whether it’s as a truck driver, warehouse manager, salesperson or company president
Kevin has his own thoughts about the Spirit of Opportunity. “The number one idea I try to convey to anyone I’m talking to, whether it’s a friend or a potential company president, is that it’s the opportunity to invest in a company where they can make the majority of the decisions and have all kinds of help in WinWholesale as a large family to rely on,” he explained.
If a potential market for Win company products and services exists in the first place; if the local company follows WinWholesale’s business procedures, and if hard work is the rule rather than the exception, success will come, Kevin said.
He claims people think the potential for success is too good to be true. “Most people think you’ve got to have very deep pockets for a Win company to be successful. People seem to think it’s a franchise where you have to have millions of dollars to start a company,” he explained.
Not true, however.
Win companies are separate corporations – not franchises
A Win company is not a franchise, doesn’t operate like a franchise, and it doesn’t take millions of dollars to start a company. Win companies are separate corporations with a president and a board of directors that advises and partners with the president as they would in any properly governed corporation.
Just like other corporations there also are opportunities for profit sharing and dividends at Win companies. “It’s rewarding to know that all the sweat equity you put in is rewarded every year after you find that you and your people have done a good job,” Kevin said.
Hard work, customer service, quality products = success
Win companies are places where everyone rolls up their sleeves to get the job done, including the president. Sioux Falls Winair is a busy place that covers lots of real estate with a fleet of trucks to serve customers in four states. Even with employing 17 people, Kevin comes to work in working clothes so he can help in the warehouse, load or unload trucks, work the counter, sweep floors – whatever it takes.
“I do everything that can possibly be done in the company,” Kevin explained. “I think it sets a good example for everyone, including customers, knowing the president is not above jumping in and that the broom handle fits his hands too. It also shows employees they can step up to the next level in the company.”
As you might expect from those comments, a Win company needs people with a good work ethic, good work habits, are willing to listen and learn and have goals to advance in their working career.
When you put a company full of people with those qualities together and they operate as a team serving customer with high quality products, it’s a winning combination. Kevin stresses that all of the employees working as one team - a fine, tweaked system as he puts it - takes communication, continuing education, meetings, etc. Those are priorities for him because the team is the most important thing that has made Sioux Falls Winair successful, Kevin emphasized.
There’s another thing that helps. When someone comes to work for Sioux Falls Winair, in essence it becomes their company. Kevin tells them to apply a test to their work. “Typically what I tell new people is that from this day forward in any decision they make to pretend it’s their company and that they are the president. If the choice is good for everyone in the company, then do it,” Kevin said.
It’s a test that’s working well at Sioux Falls Winair as the company continues to be successful in a highly competitive market area.