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Mark Matteson, speaker at Contractor Leadership Live

A Love of Coaching Contractors: A Conversation with Mark Matteson

June 27, 2017
Speak to Mark Matteson for a few minutes and you will be inspired. Matteson, a featured presenter at the Contractor Leadership LIVE event this September, talks about how working with contractors is a passion of his.

By Candace Roulo

Speak to Mark Matteson for a few minutes and you will be inspired. Matteson, a featured presenter at the Contractor Leadership LIVE event this September, talked with Candace Roulo of Contractor and Contracting Business, about his writing, speaking and mentoring career, and how working with contractors is a passion of his.

1. When and why did you decide to go into your particular career field?

I decided to join the Air Force in 1976 as an air conditioning technician. I got into the air conditioning field because my uncle told me that the future was in air conditioning ... Kind of like the “Graduate” movie when the neighbor  tells Ben that a really viable career future would be in “One word: plastics.”  While being an air conditioning technician I started selling maintenance service agreements. I realized I liked sales a lot and that I could get really good at it. It was somewhat like basketball for me — when I was in high school I was on the basketball team and I really liked playing the sport and knew I could get really good at it — I even got a college basketball scholarship. I felt the same way about selling. As I was selling service agreements people started offering me jobs. This set me on a path to find speaking mentors. So, I took what I knew, which was contracting and started calling on the people I knew in the industry. I started building a reputation in the speaking business. Started doing some speaking work outside of the HVAC industry, yet I have done speaking engagements with almost every manufacturer and 60 percent of distributors out there.

I do about 75 presentations per year and I continue to write and self-publish. I love contractors because that is where I started my career. I want to find out who the best contractors are and why they are so successful. I want to study these people.

2. What is something interesting about yourself?

People think I am really funny! I use a lot of humor in my presentations. Once I was told it’s self-defecating humor. I also have a lot of interaction with my audiences. You can count on coming away with some rock solid content to change your life when you see me speak.

3. What’s the most exciting part of your job right now?

I have an ambivert personality. An ambivert has traits of both introverts and extroverts. For example, I like reading while drinking a cup of coffee by myself. However, when it’s time to do a show [speaking engagement] I am “on.” I did speaking engagements for free for a long time. Now I get to do what I love — to speak, coach and teach — for a living. I try to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s really fun! James Brown once said, “It’s 25 percent show and it’s 75 percent business.” That’s what I do. I view myself as an information entrepreneur — I want to raise moral and coach people, so they get the maximum out of themselves.

4. What’s the most important thing you can impart on the readers, a teaser if you will for what they can expect to hear during Contractor Leadership Live?

Contractor Leadership Live has an all-star lineup, it’s the Woodstock or Lollapalooza of the contracting industry. This is where you will have a collection of the smartest people in the industry, and this includes attendees too. Sometimes the most important part of an event like this is contractors meeting one another. Sometimes when I speak I have contractors exchange business cards to get them to start talking to one another. You are going to meet people at this event you otherwise wouldn’t have met. I am certain I am going to knock attendees’ socks off at Contractor Leadership Live!  

5. What is the biggest issue we need to face in the HVACR contracting industry?

If you ask a room of contractors this question they will tell you the biggest issue is finding and keeping good employees. But Kevin Costner was correct, “If you build it they will come.”

I’ve worked with six to seven Contractor of the Year winners that have built great businesses and great cultures and since they have a great culture within the business they then attract people to their business. What do you need to do to change your culture? You can extend maternity leave, give more time off, pay employees more, have employees work 10 hours a day for four days a week, etc.

Usually employees don’t leave to make a dollar more per hour. They leave because they weren’t respected or understood. Having a unique company culture will get employees to your company. If you decide to be the best employer in the region employees will follow.  

6. What technology is coming up in the near future that you feel will alter the mechanical contracting course forever?

In Alvin Tolfler’s book the “The 3rd Wave,” he wrote, “Invest $1.00 in high-tech and $1.00 in high-touch.”

I know a contractor that is highly successful with Facebook. It’s extraordinary what he does. I would suggest contractors try out different types of technologies in their business and see what happens, see what sticks. Track and measure and see what works best. LinkedIn and Twitter can be effective marketing tools, but you also need to be out there getting referrals via word of mouth too. Also, it’s not technology, but being nice is a strategic advantage. This a fantastic way to get referrals.

About Contractor Leadership Live

Contractor Leadership LIVE is a new, multi-day event that brings together the resources you need to transform your business. You will see the latest technologies and learn about proven strategies from a powerful line up of today's HVAC industry experts. There's no better opportunity to level up your business while building a solid foundation for the future.

Slated for September 12-14 at the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland, this national event will feature conference sessions by top educators to inspire you to transform your business while delivering insight on the latest industry trends that are impacting contracting business owners and service professionals. The expo hall will give you an opportunity to learn more about the latest products that help drive business and boost profitability while connecting you with the manufacturers that are responsible for developing those tools and solutions that are critical to your success in this ever changing business environment.

As Mark Matteson mentioned, this event will feature the best speakers in the contracting world

About the Author

Candace Roulo

Candace Roulo, senior editor of CONTRACTOR and graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences, has 15 years of industry experience in the media and construction industries. She covers a variety of mechanical contracting topics, from sustainable construction practices and policy issues affecting contractors to continuing education for industry professionals and the best business practices that contractors can implement to run successful businesses.