SGI AirTime Members attend Comfort Advisor Sales Training, designed to teach true advisor skills, including building rapport, overcoming objections, and practicing your presentation to boost closing percentages. AirTime members leave this course ready to confidently educate home owners on the products and services their company provides.

Member-owned Success Group International Seeks to Have Positive Impact

April 27, 2020
Our focus on service groups continues with a look at Success Group International, which has expanded its offerings and peer group support program.

Success Group International was founded in 1999. Among SGI’s first employees were Rebecca and Lon Cassel, who helped launch and nurture each of SGI’s four affinity groups: AirTime Success International (ASI), Electricians’ Success International (ESI), Plumbers’ Success International (PSI), and Roofers’ Success International (RSI).

In 2014, Rebecca and Lon formed Aquila Investment Group and purchased SGI from Direct Energy, which had acquired the business in 2010. With Rebecca, Lon and their investment group of other independent contractors, SGI became the largest member-owned, best practices organization in North America. 

SGI’s mission in 1999 is the same today: To positively impact the lives of independent contractors through our proven business model, proprietary tools and systems, and expert training and coaching. To put it a bit more concisely, we’re in the business of helping contractors achieve their dreams, whatever they may be.

“SGI has grown steadily over the years; however, we did experience some regression and stagnation through the recession of 2008-2009 and the change in ownership in 2010. Since Rebecca and Lon took over the business in 2014, we have seen years of consistent growth. Today, we’re nearing 1,000 contractors, thanks in large part to the incredible number of referrals we receive from our current members and our reputation in the marketplace,” said David Hernandez, chief operating officer of SGI since 2014.

Added to that growth he said, is increased member interest and activity in events and participation in a new peer group support program.

“Each of our last three Expos (which are semi-annual conventions) set record attendance. And, we launched a nationwide accountability program, called TAG (Team Accountability Groups). Seven to eight member-contractors form a TAG. Hosted by an SGI coach, each group video conferences with one another every month, holding each other accountable to meet their individual goals and initiatives.

Success for All 

At the core of our SGI philosophy is that every member succeeds. In addition to its core operational resources, SGI provides members a variety of services, some of which provide valuable bottom line support.

“Our members have access to Learning Alliance, our online and immersion sales and communication training,” explained Hernandez. “Our SGI Partner Network negotiates rebates and steeply discounted rates with more than 120 strategic vendors across North America, providing our members the lowest prices for the materials and supplies they use daily. And, we offer ServiceLine, a software system that manages every facet of a contractor’s business at a much more reasonable spend than several of the other software systems today.”

Hernandez said SGI’s core business has also evolved significantly over the last five years. Its foundational guides, which once were a series of binders detailing more than 1,000 pages, have been condensed into easily searchable content within the members-only website,

“Those guides are supported with more than 950 videos that include instruction from our industry experts on every topic imaginable from operations to marketing to training and more — all easily searchable to target the exact topic our members desire,” he said. “We continuously add to this library of content and video. For example, in the last few years, we have added comprehensive systems on recruiting and interviewing, onboarding and performance management.”

Other efforts SGI has taken to avoid stagnation or lack of interest include investing significant resources into offering every member a completely free, fully optimized website as part of their membership; no additional investment is necessary. One of those new multi-media offerings is a new podcast — “The Successful Contractor”— which was just launched in mid-April of this year. It is available to both members and nonmembers. 

“We use the podcast to chronicle members’ business journeys and share their keen insights learned over the years for the betterment of everyone in our industry.,” Hernandez explained. “This is something contractors always want to hear: the learnings of the most successful members that others can apply to their businesses.”

Motivated Learners Welcome

SGI seeks to attract contractors who are motivated and committed to learning and improving. 

“We don’t insist our members attain a certain revenue level to join. Many of our greatest success stories have been struggling contractors with little revenue, but plenty of debt, who’ve climbed out of their holes to become highly profitable and fast-growing operations,” Hernandez said. “At the same time, we have numerous large, profitable, market-leading contractors among our membership who enjoy networking and learning from one another. SGI truly provides a home for everyone.”

Relevance During COVID-19

"I think this pandemic illustrates why more than ever it’s critical to be a part of a best-practices organization," Hernandez said. "As soon as it became apparent our members would be impacted more than a month ago, our team leapt into action. We have a large, diverse staff full of dedicated people with numerous skillsets who worked around the clock and through weekends to best understand how our members needed to respond and how we could assist them."

"Today, we have a COVID Response Resource Center page within our internal, member website. As of this moment, the page has 47 links to white papers, recorded webinars, and training videos on everything: easy-to-understand synopses of the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program, how to run a 'no-contact service call,' marketing strategies and messaging, and more."

Non-SGI contractors are welcome to go to where they will find 19 of the resources listed and available for viewing or download.

This is just a glimpse of the many resources we provide our SGI members. We have the proprietary system and tools that I mentioned earlier; those give contractors, many of whom have no business background, the precise information needed to run a highly profitable, fast-growing contracting company. Our system is every bit as comprehensive as any franchise system, but without the franchise fees."

Hernandez added that the SGI membership serves as another "astounding" resource. "They’re highly engaged with one another, frequently communicating and even traveling to each other’s shops to gain ideas or provide guidance. We often say our Expos feel like more of a family reunion than the content-heavy, semi-annual conferences they are.

"The depth of resources and network of contractors eager to help is a crucial combination for any independent contractor seeking cutting-edge tools and information. Why go it alone and learn from your mistakes when you can learn from the mistakes and successes from others looking to help you?"

See client commentary below.

About the Author

Kelly L. Faloon | Freelance Writer/Editor

Kelly L. Faloon is a contributing editor and writer to Contracting Business magazine, Contractor and HPAC Engineering. The former editor of Plumbing & Mechanical magazine, Faloon has more than 20 years experience in the plumbing and heating industry. She started a freelance writing and editing business in 2017, where she has a varied clientele.

Faloon spent 3 1/2 years at Supply House Times before joining the Plumbing & Mechanical staff in 2001. Previously, she spent nearly 10 years at CCH/Wolters Kluwer, a publishing firm specializing in business and tax law, where she wore many hats — proofreader, writer/editor for a daily tax publication, and Internal Revenue Code editor.

A native of Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula, Faloon is a journalism graduate of Michigan State University. You can reach her at [email protected].