Podcast: Mike Cappuccio Welcomes Michael Gudorf of Gudorf Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electrical

Podcast: Mike Cappuccio Welcomes Michael Gudorf of Gudorf Plumbing Heating Cooling Electrical

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Mike Cappuccio: Good morning and welcome to the Dominate Ductless podcast, where we tell the stories of entrepreneurs who are building their businesses that are focused on ductless heat pumps.

I’m Mike Cappuccio, the owner of Dominate Ductless. And I am really excited today to have a longtime friend and business owner, Mike Gudorf from Gudorf Plumbing, heating and Cooling and Electrical Services, which is located in Jasper, Indiana.

And I believe there might even be a second location besides Jasper, Indiana from what I’ve seen.

So, Mike, good morning!

Mike Gudorf: Good morning, Mike! Pleasure to be here today! Doing great, yourself?

Gudorf's Map

Meet Mike Gudolf, Owner of Gudolf’s Plumbing, Heating,Air Conditioning and Electrical

Cappuccio: Thank you. Thank you. I’m doing fantastic, Mike. I’m trying to live the dream, I guess, is what I’m trying to do.

So, Mike, tell the audience a little bit about yourself and your company and what you do in your day-to-day roles in your company, Mike.

Gudorf: So I am second-generation owner of the business.

We are celebrating our 60th anniversary this year.

My mother and father started the business in 1964 and dad passed away in 2013 and then mom took ownership till 2018 when I bought it from her because I saw huge amount of potential that we were not tapping into.

So, you know, I grew up in the business, literally started going to work with dad when I was two years old, grew up in the business, took over an install crew for dad six months out of high school, did that for about 17 years and then came in as more of a management role.

And I’ve owned the business now for just a shade over six years.

You know, like I said, did everything from starting out at the very bottom to sitting in the big seat today, if you will.


Gudolf’s role as a visionary in his second generation company

Cappuccio: So what is the big seat constitute like one of those day-to-day roles?

Gudorf: Gray hair.

Cappuccio: I don’t have any hair right now, Mike. So it is all gone and it is gray.

Gudorf: Day-to-day roles. I mean, you know, for now, my biggest job now is the visionary side of the business, right?

Is where are we going from here?

Where do we grow from here?

I’m never, never content with where I’m at — We’ve always got to be growing.

We always got to be doing something better, making improvements, investing in our team, investing in the company.

So my number one job is the visionary. Putting a team in place to make my vision come to life, you know?

Connecting at the Mitsubishi Electric dealer meeting in 2010

Cappuccio: Well, that’s fantastic. So, Mike, how long have we known each other now and where did we first meet? I’m trying to recall that.

Gudorf: I’m going back probably 2010 to 11. So I’m saying it’s 12, 13 years for sure.

We first met at a Mitsubishi electric diamond contractor conference that they were hosting.

And if I remember correctly, it was in Dallas, I think is where we first met Mike, and hit it off from there. And here we are today. Right?

The catalyst that made Gudorf’s go all-in on ductless

Cappuccio: Here we go. So let me, let me ask you a few questions here, Mike.

We’ve done some one-on-one training.

I think you’ve probably been to one of my classes at somewhere at some point along the journey here.

And I guess if I was to ask you this, is, how did my training or me meeting you and I together for many days help your company? What did that do for you?

Gudorf's Ductless

Gudorf: So the, you know, the biggest thing that, the biggest thing that it did for me is, you know, looking just strictly at the ductless side of my business. I was bought into ductless, but it wasn’t big, right?

There wasn’t a lot of people knew about ductless or when a lot of people doing ductless in our, in our area.

I knew ductless had the potential to be big.

And meeting with you and seeing what you had done with, with your, you know, with your previous company and everything, I was like, you know, Mike’s got it figured out here.

So, you know, then you have your trainings and whatnot, from sales training to, you know, your Dominate Ductless and all that.

It just, it clicks with me because I’ve been bought into ductless for years, and we never really, I hate to say the word dabble, but from looking at it from a full business standpoint, we dabbled in ductless for a number of years.

And then, you know, really jumped all in and made the trip out to Boston and set at you with your office and seen how you did your operation and really gave me a lot of ideas and things of where we could go, what we could do, and kind of took what you were doing and the way my brain works and blended those, you know, started going all in on ductless.

So, you know, Douglas is, is an offering on every sales call today.

A blueprint for profit growth beyond ductless

Cappuccio: Wow! I can remember sitting in that conference room with you and your wife and what I, I can honestly tell you, I saw steam coming out of.

I could just see thoughts coming out of my head and you, you, I’ll tell you, you asked me more questions than anyone has ever asked me.

And, no, I mean, you really pried into what I was doing and really, really took a look at, and I gotta tell you, there’s nothing more that makes me more happy as an entrepreneur, as a former entrepreneur is to see people like yourself and other people that I’ve, that I’ve had somewhat of, a little bit of an influence in, around the country that have really, you know, taken off.

You know, when I see you at conferences and I see what you’ve done and, you know, and when I see on social media what you’re doing all the time, and, you know, I’m always seeing, you know, different installations going on and the things that I, that I look at and I’m just like, wow, he has a vision for where he’s going, whether it’s with, with solar or plumbing or ductless or whatever.

I mean, you’ve taken that seems to me like you’ve taken all of those parts of that training and implemented it into many parts of your business from, from what I’m seeing.

Gudorf's Services

Gudorf: Absolutely. I mean, to, you know, to me, with us being so broad reaching on the services that we offer, it’s —

Why, why should it stop at ductless?

It can go into every aspect of business.

You know, like you said, solar, geothermal, radiant plumbing, electrical, any of it.

There’s — There’s no reason it can’t be incorporated into all of it.

Cappuccio: Yeah. I mean, as long as you’re making money with all of it, you just continue to keep doing it and, and profitable, you know? Right?

I guess if I asked you this, like, when you left Boston, that after those few days you and your wife leaving, and I’m envisioning you getting in on that plane now, and I’m thinking to myself, he’s on that plane right now.

And I’ll bet you he hasn’t stopped the whole entire time.

Gudorf: It was before that.

Cappuccio: I know. And I’m thinking to myself, this right back, I just could, I could see when I.

Honest to God, I can see someone that has a vision.

And, you know, I talk.

And Brad being a common friend of ours, and, you know, I still talk to Brad Matthak.

I talked to Brad yesterday.

I told him we were going to be talking today.

Thoughtful organization of the shop and inventory is huge

Cappuccio: And, you know, when I — when I look at that, and I guess this question I want to ask you is, if you were to look at what we went over, what were the two real highlight topics that you took away from that?

Gudorf: The two biggest things?

Mike Cappuccio: Two biggest things that you really said. This is what we really. This is the two big items.

Gudorf: Well, I think the biggest thing for where we were in this company at the time was the organization, the ins, the outs, your warehouse operation, to me was what it was a major thing that we were just fumbling all over ourselves every day trying to find this, find that the organization side of it.

The way you guys ran your warehouse and your warehouse manager. I could still see that counter in there, your shelving on the other side of the counter.

I can still see it all in my head just like it was yesterday. We were there…

Cappuccio: And that doubled the size. After you left, my vision kept getting bigger, and another 10,000 sq. ft came and another 10,000 sq. ft came and…

Getting buy-in on ductless with key team members drove sales

Gudorf: Right. So I think that was the biggest thing that I saw.

But, you know, and then secondly, probably too, that would have been how everybody in your company was bought in ductless.

Right? It wasn’t [that] you believed in it, but you had to get the other team to believe in it.

You know, it was the, it was the.

The mindset in the office is that, ductless, is the way to go. That this is how we solve problems, this is what we do here.

And, you know, so, so shortly after that, I became a, you know, very.

I was. I was a fan of training prior to that, but.

But after that, I’m thinking, okay, you know, I need to be sending my, my CSRs.

I need to be sending my service techs to the applications training so everybody can see the possibilities of this.

I’m not the one that’s got to be the go-to, if you will, for everything ductless.

My CSR up front, she can answer the call and she can start talking with some knowledge about ductless and how it works.

You know, start getting it into a few of my team members homes, and they can experience it.

Then they can talk from experience, you know, things like that.

So seeing the culture of — of ductless, really, you know, was a mindset shift that, hey, if I get everybody bought in on this, I don’t have to do all the work.

You know, I could focus my energies elsewhere.

Cappuccio: On the vision. Yeah.

Gudorf: And we can grow. We can grow exponentially from where it would be if it’s just me.

Being organized boosts profits

Cappuccio: So, yeah, I mean, it’s really. So what I’m taking away from that is being organized can create profits.

Mike Gudorf: Exactly. Yep.

Cappuccio: You know, I always tell that to people.

You know, people think that we’re crazy when we do the warehouse and inventory module in my training.

And sometimes it’s one of the most important ones that we actually go through.

And I always say to people, look, I’ll point out someone that’s in that class, and I’ll say to them, hey, you know, Mike, you’ve been to my facility.

Am I — Am I, were we organized or did I have a machine?

Things came in one door and went out the other, and that’s what we did.

And the setup part of it was just, I found when, when I was doing a lot of Mitsubishi and ductless products that it was just much easier, less moving pieces, and.

But I had to be organized. You have to have workflow in. In there, you know, just. Just like your office has.

A knowledgeable, personable CSR makes you money

Cappuccio: Workflow is really important.

I mean, I think you hit on another high topic there that was really good, that I’m really proud to see of you, that you took away from something that a lot of people don’t is having someone who can answer the phone and be able to talk about heat pumps, because dawn and I talk about it all the time, and we say you spend all this money on marketing to get people to actually call your business.

And marketing can be, it could be a hat, it could be the shirt you’re wearing.

It could be the truck you’re driving.

It could be an ad at a baseball field.

It could be a billboard.

It could be anything.

But you have spent some kind of money to do that.

And then you’re obviously, you’re marketing your company and you’re marketing a product because, you know, in this business, we know we have two things to sell there: Material and labor and the company.

And having somebody that is knowledgeable, that can talk on the telephone when a marketing call comes in, when somebody wants to buy some.

I always teach that in my training.

It’s like, you know, think of the person when you call somewhere that is not happy, and they’re just not.

And they can’t answer the questions that you want and versus when you can, when you call somewhere and the person is happy on the phone, can answer the questions, can book the call, do what’s needed to be done.

I think the person on the other end of the phone is just as.

Just as happy and as energetic when that person comes out there. And, I mean, do you still do some sales, Mike?

Gudorf: I do. I do some sort. Most of mine anymore is the new construction side of our business, the design side.

Cappuccio: Is there nothing better than walking into a home and hearing someone say that, hey, I spoke to so and so on the phone, and he or she was just awesome?

Gudorf: Oh, yeah, that’s. And that, you know, so, so we have, we have team meeting every Friday morning, and we kick every team meeting off with the five star reviews from the week.

And there’s 3, 4, 5, 8, you know, just depends what kind of, you know, what kind came in over the week.

But probably 30% of those say that the people that they talked to from the very beginning gave them the feeling that that’s where they need to be.

So, yeah, when we go on into clients homes and they say that your ladies up front that answer the phone, they did a phenomenal job.

That just. That means that we started off on the right foot with that client, you know?

Cappuccio: I mean, that was so rewarding to me when I did sales, and I would walk into a home and someone would say, geez, that that woman that I really talked to on the phone was, was fantastic.

I mean, I used to have this, this one girl, and she always find a common ground and in something with a homeowner, and sometimes she.

That call could actually sometimes turn into a 10 to 15 minutes call that became personal, personable, and somebody knew someone that knew something.

And it just made my life so much easier when I was doing sales, because people want to do business with people that they like and trust.

Gudorf: Yeah. And you walk into the house with that rapport already built, you know?

Cappuccio: Yeah. I don’t think it comes to price at that point, do you?

Gudorf: No, it doesn’t. And we’ve had. I couldn’t, you know, countless people that said, “Just give me a price.”

“What this is going to cost?”

“You know, we’ve already decided.”

“We’re going with you guys.”

“We’re going to do this.”

“Just give me a price.”

“I trust you that you’re going to give me a fair price.”

“Give me a price.”

“Let me know what it’s going to take to do it, because you guys are head and tails above everybody else in the area”, you know?

Customers can feel how much everyone at Gudorf’s cares

Cappuccio: What do you think makes you head and tails above everybody else in your area? Is it these?

Gudorf: It’s — The people aren’t sticks out.

The people aren’t a number.

They know that we.

That we from, from the ladies up front that answer the phone all the way up to me, we care about every single one of the people that calls in here.

You know, we, you know, that’s, that’s one of our bedrock principles, that nobody will be treated like a number.

This person, if it’s a $500 job, is just as important as the, as the 65, 70, $80,000 job, you know, $100,000 job.

It doesn’t matter how much you’re spending with, with us.

You’re just as important as the next person.

The importance of taking care of your team

Cappuccio: And I heard you say, too, about the team. I always, I always used to say in my meetings, when we had our team meetings or, you know, I was always big at doing three or four good functions a year with our team out, you know, outlaid facilities and stuff like that, where we went out of the rams and did something fun.

And it was always, I don’t fight this battle every day.

I’m just, you know, I’m up here steering the ship.

I’m not, I’m not shooting the guns.

I’m not shooting the guns.

I’m not the Navy Seals jumping in the water.

That’s you guys.

You guys are on the front line.

And, you know, I’m only as good as what I have in front of me.

And that’s a team.

That’s a team effort.

And that, in your vision, is really.

I can see the vision is team building.

Gudorf: Definitely. It is.

And I’ve had. I’ve had, you know, four or five people that I can think off the top of my head that have come to me and complimented how our technicians have taken care of them in their home.

And, you know, they all say, well, service like that starts from the top, because if the guy at the top, if the captain of the ship, if you will, is teaching and treating people like that, then that just trickles down to everybody in the — In the organization.

Cappuccio: So I agree with you 100%.

My dad always, you know, my dad passed away at a yet very young age of 59, and I always remember him saying, just. Just treat people the way you want to be treated, and people will treat you the same. You know, don’t….

Gudorf: Exactly, don’t…

Cappuccio: Don’t treat people unfairly.

And I always used to say I should always.

That was my — My motto was, I’m only as good as what I have in front of me.

And you know what? I’ll never forget, one time, we actually had an event, and someone had brought a big cake. This gentleman, Robert, who worked for me, was the nicest guy in the world.

And he went to this bakery, and he brought this big, gigantic cake to this event, and it had the company name and everything on it, and he wrote right across the front of the cake, you’re only as good as the people in front of you.

Gudorf: Nice.

Cappuccio: And it was like. And I was like, wow.

It actually stuck.

You know, it stuck what they did, because I’m telling you, you will get so much more respect from your employees.

And I can’t tell you how many times of being in business where I had people leave my company, just left.

And, you know, that happens in every company.

Gudorf: Yeah.

Cappuccio: And come back. And I said, why did you come back? I said, why?

You know, they go, we just weren’t treated the way that we wanted to be treated.

Gudorf: Right.

Cappuccio: You know, when someone leaves and they go on to do taking another HVAC job.

It’s just the same. You’re doing the same thing. It’s just a different.

Gudorf: Switching tag on your shirt. Right.

Cappuccio: Switching the tag on your shirt. Exactly. And if the culture is not there, that’s. That’s a problem.

Gudorf: We tell people here, you know, if you’re going, if the grass is greener on the other side, there could be a septic problem.

How Gudorf’s sees the ductless opportunity – heat pumps get the job done

Cappuccio: Yeah, I guess. In closing, Mike, today, if you had a recommendation for other contractors around the country to get onto the heat pump bandwagon, what would it be?

What would you say?

Gudorf: I mean, just from — I was 20 years ago, we were 100% gas.

Don’t even talk to us about heat pumps.

And now the capabilities and the, you know, the different capacities of heat pumps now and the versatility of heat pumps is just.

Is just definitely the way to go.

You know, and then the cold climate heat pumps, you know, with Mitsubishi and whatnot, with, you know, being able to offer a whole home sole source heating from a heat pump with no backup heat, it’s a no brainer.

It just, we have been. It has served us well.

And with the versatility of what you can get out of a heat pump today, 100%, that’s works well.

Cappuccio: That’s great.

So, Mike, I want to thank you for coming on and joining the dominate ductless podcast again, where we tell the stories of the entrepreneurs like yourself, who are building their businesses that, you know, have a focus on ductless heat pump.

So, you know, I want to thank you for your friendship. I want to thank you for everything that, you know, we’ve done together, and have a great day, Mike, and God bless you!

Gudorf: Thank you for the invite, Mike, and I’ve been a pleasure catching up with you a little bit.

Cappuccio: Great. Thank you so much, Mike!