Exeleon Magazine

Scott Truehl: Dominating the Change Quotient

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Change is constant in the world of business, even when things are going well. As you progress with your company and expand into more areas, you’ll find that change becomes essential for continued growth. Even companies that are already successful will go through times when changes are needed to ensure that their business continues to grow at a healthy rate. This is especially true for small businesses and startups, as their growth can be much more rapid than an established company that has taken years to reach where it’s at now.

Scott Truehl, Executive Vice President and Partner at Friede & Associates, is an influential leader who has recognized the power of change with first-hand experiences. Scott has embraced change through a career that has included stops in government, real estate, and the utility industry. He embraces change now by leading a construction firm helping clients navigate the process of building or renovating a new facility effectively and efficiently.

Donning Multiple Hats

Before helming the primary sales and marketing duties at Friede & Associates, Scott Truehl’s professional career had seen several stops that ultimately led him to become a partner at the firm. He began his career as the Governmental Affairs Director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce, wherein he represented the membership for over six years with a wide variety of topics before the city committees, boards, and commissions. In his advocacy role, Scott got to see the first-hand challenges faced by the small businesses due to government regulations.

At the same time, Scott also worked on his sales skills and earned a Real Estate Broker license selling condominiums on the weekends. His career then transitioned into becoming a Development Specialist with Wisconsin Power & Light (WP&L), helping industries locate and grow across Wisconsin.

And after serving for eight years at WP&L, where his stops included Local  Operations Manager, Economic Development Specialist & Manager, and Director of State & Local Affairs, Scott got an invitation from his current business partner, Roger Friede, to join his nearly 100-year-old family construction firm, and to “put his knowledge and experience to work” for their construction clients.

Spearheading Friede & Associates changing business

Roger offered Scott a chance to help him change the focus of his family business. His idea was to transform the firm “from a hard bid, governmental and industrial contractor, to a professional services company that would offer clients additional assistance with their construction projects. Further, they would do so primarily in a design-build manner where the contractor and customer work together to design and build their facility.”

The ability to help transform a company was appealing to Scott, and he saw tremendous potential. As a result, he joined the firm at the start of 1998, with his primary focus on creating a sales and marketing program for the firm that would help the company grow geographically and also in the types of projects they would construct.

Redefining Customer Satisfaction

Now, after nearly 25 years on the job, Scott looks after the outside connections to bring in new clients, helping them in the development of their project. He works with them to assess their needs, then offers his recommendations about the type, size, and potential costs of a facility. “I work with them in the selection of an architect or designer. We help develop preliminary site and floor plans, as well as initial building elevations & materials,” explains Scott.

Afterwards, he helps to transfer that information to the estimators and project managers to create accurate budgets and project schedules for the projects. As part of helping the clients, Scott can also be seen working to find potential building sites and assisting in the state & local approval process. And lastly, Scott also gets involved in negotiating state & local incentives and assisting the clients with their financing process.

And when it comes to customer satisfaction, Scott makes sure that he and his team leaves no stone unturned in delivering the best of services. He says, “We work to provide the best product that our clients can afford to meet their needs. Our field staff is incredibly talented and experienced and builds each project as if they were building for themselves. Our crews make sure that safety & quality are always the driving force as they construct each project.”

The Power of Change

Scott has been incredibly blessed throughout his career to have worked in various jobs under great mentors and business coaches to grow through both successes and failures. Learning under multiple mentors and in different environments empowered Scott to have the confidence to try new things and form a perspective of improving things at hand. “This attitude had helped me find solutions to challenges that may not have been visible when we started something, but certainly would have adversely impacted the outcome had we not identified them.”

This is also something that Scott would like aspiring and upcoming business leaders to remember. In his dictionary, the biggest roadblock we face is the fear of change. “Most people want to find that comfortable spot and stay there. I am always looking to grow and to see if we can do it better or differently.”

Hence, Scott wants newcomers to constantly look for ways to change, grow, and improve. He wants them to work on understanding the clients’ evaluation criteria and offer them services where the advantages lie.

Another essential aspect that emerging leaders must focus on is understanding the employees’ point of view. “Your employees are the ones that are making your business successful, and they, not you, know what problems they are facing and holding them back. If you want to know how your company can improve…just ask,” says Scott. “But don’t ask if you are not willing to change. If you want to destroy whatever good feelings your team has for you and your business, just go out and ask for their ideas and then do nothing with them. You will build up a sense of hope and then crush that hope if you do nothing.”

Trust is the Key

Scott perceives the company’s future to be bright as long as they keep finding great people to join their team. He illustrates an example when the pandemic peaked, and many contractors downsized their marketing budgets and cut back on the business development. However, Scott and the firm went the other way to open a new office in Madison with additional business development staff.

At present, Scott is reaping the same benefits by attracting people who were worried about their jobs with larger firms, or those that felt like just a number, and he has shown them how they can make a difference at Friede & Associates. “Together we can build the kind of company I always wanted to work for.  One the values the team and their individual contributions.  One that realizes that we’re all in this together and that we all play a role in delivering our services.  And hopefully, one that finds ways to let us have fun doing what we do and with the folks we work with.”

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