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Scott Ericson

WheelHouse 20/20

Scott Ericson

Gabriel Flores  0:00  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. This evening, I have the opportunity to interview the partner and one of the owners of will house 2020. Scott. How you doing, buddy?

Scott Ericson  0:17  

Good. Good evening. Thank you for the invitation. Oh,

Gabriel Flores  0:19  

thank you for coming on. So let's let's introduce the world to Scott Selden. Tell us give us a little bit. Get a give us a little bit of your background. Sure, sure.

Scott Ericson  0:27  

Well, you know, this is, it's, it's interesting. I was thinking about his day when you'd asked me those questions. And this is my third job. out of college, I've only had three, the first one, I flamed really hard, I went about 14 months, and I was fired. The second job I had was with poor lumber company, I started as a cashier, I stayed at that job for 17 years. And that's really where I got the experience. That's where I met my business partner. That's where we got the foundation for my what I call my now second career, and my second career is wheelhouse 2020. We started that in 2010. It's a sales and marketing company. And we specialize in the building materials supply industry. So a little bit niche, a little boutique. But that's our background. That's our specialty. That's where we come from, and we wanted to stay in that same realm.

Gabriel Flores  1:17  

So let's, let's talk about that a little bit. What What exactly does will house 2020 Do?

Scott Ericson  1:22  

Well, we're a full service agency, we do everything from digital advertising, social media, search engine optimization, Search Engine Marketing, we build websites, all in house, we also have two other pillars that have been very strong for our company. One is representation manufacturers representation. So we have five or six representatives that are out there in the marketplace, representing our clients, marketing and sales initiatives. And then we have our creative and branding services. And that's, that's another one of our pillar or foundational pieces for the company.

Gabriel Flores  1:57  

And one of the things you mentioned, about wheelhouse is is it's a pretty niched industry. But advertising and marketing are niche. What do you mean by niche industry?

Scott Ericson  2:07  

Yeah, no, no, the tools that we use, and the the products that we are employing with our clients are very traditional to sales and marketing. We just keep ourselves in a sandbox that is a little more narrow than some of the other agencies, typical agencies that you might work with. Are we work nationally across the country, but our channel is in the building materials supply. So we're working with dealers, manufacturers, distributors, all across the country, in a very specific product category.

Gabriel Flores  2:39  

So let's let's talk about how we'll start because you mentioned, this is your third job. Your second, your first one you burned out, right? Y'all are par was the second one. How did you jump from par to wheelhouse?

Scott Ericson  2:51  

That's, it's, you know, that's really interesting, too. I think. I started as a cashier, I've done almost every job that you can imagine with part Lumber Company and admire the family so much. The individuals in that organization groomed me, they taught me they gave me all of the resources of their organization and allowed me then the CEO of power at the time, was, I think, very, fairly progressive. And he was allowing younger employees onto the leadership team. So I joined the executive leadership team at age 30. And had experienced a lot of different things from their manufacturing side, to leading their sales organization. And that's, I think, what started my career with part lumber and what prepared me for learning their systems. They're very much a systems process and procedure, operationally driven company and organization. I'm getting that foundation, that corporate foundation helped my partner and I, and that's where we also developed our foundational pillars for wheelhouse. 2020, the theory and the idea that really led to the success in our current company.

Gabriel Flores  4:00  

Nice. And so you mentioned your partner. Yeah. How did how did you meet your partner,

Scott Ericson  4:05  

so she's, she was at par for 17 years also. And she was the director of marketing. When we left bar, I was on the sales side and leading the sales team and she was the Director of Marketing, we worked together for many years at part Lumber Company. And in the late 90s, we started looking at the challenges that the sales team had, and the marketing team had. And we noticed that the organization was built in silos. So marketing is over here, sales is over here. Sales is not interested in what marketing was doing marketing had no interest in getting any kind of opinions from sales. We wanted to do some some specific things on the sales side. She wanted to do some things on marketing. But we weren't getting a lot of traction. And you know, and so I would talk to her about hey, you know what, I want to start a sales program and she's like, you know, we need to brand the company. We need to we need to look at new product segments. We need to do the customer segments, and I'm like, I just need some tools for the sales department and And it was through those conversations that we really developed a integrated sales and marketing approach. And we took that philosophy straight to wheelhouse 2020. And it became the foundation of our, our sales and marketing agency. And that's the way we don't consider ourselves just a marketing company, because we don't develop marketing programs for our clients, unless there's a sales component, unless there is some kind of tangible ROI that we can add here or fix to the marketing campaigns. And that's why I think we saw some success and have had some success is because we can really point to some strong marketing campaigns that produce results for our clients.

Gabriel Flores  5:41  

So when you when you decided to create wheelhouse 2020, what problem did you kind of set out to solve?

Scott Ericson  5:47  

Yep, it's, it's funny. First of all, the the problem we wanted to solve was the silos because we believe that that many organizations are built in silos, operations, sales, marketing. And so we wanted to tear down those walls. That was our first the first problem and where we saw we had a unique niche. And when we started this company, it was 2010. So we had just come out of one of the most, you know, horrendous recessions that our industry and many other industries had seen at that time. And we were told by a lot of our peers that we were crazy for going out on our own white, why on earth? Are you doing this? What could you possibly bring to the origin of the industry that hasn't already been done? And how are you going to make a living when people aren't spending money on marketing and sales right now they're letting go of all their sales and marketing people. And that was, that was our opportunity. That's what I saw as our opportunity. I said, you know, well, yeah, all of these companies have let go of their sales and marketing people. So they need to outsource, they can't stop selling, they can't stop, even in a recession, you can't stop promoting your company, you can't stop promoting your products, and you can't stop selling, that's one thing that's going to bring you through. But we also knew that they couldn't afford to hire back a lot of headcount. So if we could provide a solution for those clients, and we could do it at a lower cost, then we felt like we had a competitive advantage in the marketplace, and we could grow some business. You know, and that was, so that's the theory, you know, the, everything starts with a theory. And so it was that combined with the let's break down the walls in sales and marketing and create an ROI. We also thought that we had some canned or preset pre made marketing campaigns that we could sell, that was about idea. And we find is, you know, in our organization, you always you're going to come up with five or six bad ideas for every one good one. Fortunately, businesses forgiving, you know, and you can have some bad ideas when you're, when you're building an organization, if you have enough good ones to help. Help offset. So that was that was kind of the the start of it.

Gabriel Flores  7:57  

So how, how written in the advertising world? Do you create ROI?

Scott Ericson  8:02  

Very carefully. No, and aggressively. So I think, in our opinion, in our company's opinion, and everybody does a little bit differently. You know, it depends on the industry, Aaron, it depends on the products, it depends on if you're going straight to the consumer, if you're going we work b2b. We work from businesses to businesses. So the companies and clients that we work with are selling their services to typically other businesses more often than they're selling them to the direct consumer. And so the so when we're looking to create an ROI, I think there's a couple of things that are absolutely essential. One, I think you have to have some kind of accountability in your sales team, or in the organization leadership team of the clients that we're working with, they have to have some kind of accountability, some kind of skin in the game, they also have to have some kind of visibility. And that means they have to have the tools in place the foundational tools to be able to see if their programs if these programs and if their sales teams are actually implementing them, executing them and getting some kind of results from them. So and then you need to have the knowledge and commitment from the salespeople. So that's where we, where we integrate. So we'll start to develop our campaigns, whether it's a rebranding campaign, with a sales component, whether it's a product promotion, whether it's a some kind of program, new campaign or program, and then we'll say what visibility can play, what visibility tools do you have in place? If they don't have them, then we help them create them. What kind of accountability do you have on this program as an organization? What kind of commitment as a leadership team do you have to implementing and executing a marketing campaign? If they don't have that then we walk away honestly, we have to have a commitment from the organization and then we have to say okay, let us work with your sales team to develop key performance indicators and and for a client and because we want to identify the holes in their organization, or the challenges be Before we just go out there and say, Okay, we're going to charge you whatever for a big campaign that may or may not work. So that's that's where the integration, I think of the sales and marketing comes in for our company.

Gabriel Flores  10:11  

And for the listeners at home that may be unfamiliar with the acronym ROI, what we're talking about is return on investment. Right? Yeah. And so as business leaders, right, that's, that's essentially what you are going for, right? As an entrepreneur, how important for you. One of the things you mentioned, right as being in a, a niche market, how important was you? Or was it for you to make sure that when you focus on your company, that you remained something that you had a bit of a knowledge in already, or an expertise.

Scott Ericson  10:42  

It because now, now, we can move outside of our industry, I believe, because we have processes in place, we have procedures in place, we have a lot of the things that we didn't have in the beginning. And we have some name recognition, we have a little bit of street cred. So we have some things underneath some successes under our belt, I think we could move outside of our industry. In the beginning, it was really important because our name recognition, my partner and I nationally, was the foundation for our new business. We were we did a lot of speaking we did, we worked on panels, both nationally when we were at our previous company. So when we came out on our own, a lot of the clients that we have now had already known our name they had there was a lot of name recognition associated with it. So it was important that we stayed in our industry in the beginning to help us grow that business and to capitalize on some of the things the expertise, one that we had and experience that we had.

Gabriel Flores  11:43  

So originally with wheelhouse, did you stick to your initial idea? Or did you shift or pivot to something else or a variant of it?

Scott Ericson  11:51  

Well, we've we've pivoted several times, and I think that is the is that one of the important factors of being an entrepreneur or starting your own business is the ability to recognize when something's not working, and to capitalize and take opportunities that you see that are working. Right. And that's that's what makes maybe entrepreneurs a little bit unique or a little bit different is that they're always you by necessity, you're always having to evaluate what you're currently doing. And your customers will tell you whether or not you're on the right track or not. If they're not buying it, then you know, you need to pivot. And so we had when we had started, we had thought we these canned, you know, kind of pre made marketing campaigns or packages could be sold in non competing markets all across the country. And we could do it at a low cost. We could just say, Here's your marketing campaign in a box, here's your sales initiatives, here's your campaign to go along with the promotions and with all of the branding, and all of the collaterals and everything that you would need. I no one bought that. They didn't want it, they didn't like it. We kept trying it, we were trying to push a round peg into a square hole for a while and realize that you know what maybe our niche is to customize programs for each individual customer and each individual client. And once we did that pivot, we made that move and adjustment, we got three or four new clients who were excited about it. So that reinforced our Okay, now we need to move in this direction. One of the other things that we did, we hadn't had intended in 2010, to really get into website building, get into social media get into search engine optimization, there are a lot of companies that were out there that were doing it that $99 websites, all those kinds of guys were like, that's not really our interest. Another big monumental switch for us was when we determined to take that inside in house and say, okay, you know what, we are going to do that, and we're going to do it in a big way. And we're gonna focus on it, because our industry really needed it.

Gabriel Flores  13:45  

You mentioned, you know, during that moment when you had a had a pivot, because you're realizing what you're trying to offer your customers wasn't what they wanted, right? Was Was that a defining moment for your team and saying, you know, what, we're finally on the right track, or was there a different moment that was like, you know, what, I think we're this this venture is going to be successful.

Scott Ericson  14:06  

That was, you know, that was before we even had a team game we had, it was my partner and I for the first two, two and a half years, it was just her and I. And I think our first monumental challenge or change was when we read a book called The E Myth, entrepreneurial myth. And it was Michael Gerber, who wrote that book. And it really the essence of the book was you got to stop working in your business and you need to start working on your business. And when we started working on our business, started looking at it from the outside because once we got we forgot everything, all the corporate lessons that we learned throughout our lumber company, once we got out on our own, and we're flying. We forgot a lot of those things. And so it was important for us. We got right into it. We dug into some of it two or three of our clients. We started working inside the business. I was on the sales side, she's on the marketing side, we're producing our stuff. And we had forgotten to really look above it. And so we read that book. And we're like, that was an aha moment for us. And we're like, okay, we need to start working on our business. And that was the first, first pivot change. And then we hired a person from that one person. Well, within, we went two and a half years, with just the two of us, we hired, our first person started working on the business. By the end of the second year, we had nine people. So we were that two year 24 months later. So it really made a huge change in our philosophy, and the way that we looked at the business and where we started then capitalizing, we could see now some of the opportunities and started moving our company in that direction.

Gabriel Flores  15:42  

During that process of, you know, creating woolhouse Was there ever a moment of self doubt? Or in either the company's growth and success or even your own?

Scott Ericson  15:53  

Wow, that's yeah, you know, there's always there's always doubt. And I am a, I think I consider myself a paranoid person, because I'm, I'm a salesman, right? I think that every single person that is alive is trying to take the business from us. And so I am always concerned about what's happening next year, what's happening, that you're after that you can't, it's hard to enjoy successes sometimes. Because you're always afraid of is this going to end? Or are we going to find out something or do something next year? COVID was a perfect example. I mean, we've gone through some external things that have really impacted our business and had we've had to pivot with with that. So of course, there's some self doubt, but I think, well, I know that we always knew it would be successful. We had a tremendous amount of confidence in each other, my partner, Jennifer Swick and I, a lot of trust, we've worked together a long time. We had confidence in our team, once we started to build up the team, we knew that we were hiring the right people that were doing the right things. So we had a lot of confidence that we were going to be successful. And we were seeing a lot of success. But there's always that little bit of paranoia. And I think if you don't have that, if you aren't always concerned about it, then then maybe you maybe maybe you aren't an entrepreneur, I don't know.

Gabriel Flores  17:12  

Now, I want to take a step back and kind of talk a little bit more about Scott, because one of the things we're talking about when we first went first got here was you're up in Hermiston, Oregon. Yeah, very small rural communities similar to myself, how did that kind of help you? Because now you're talking about, you know, your work ethic and your cells? How did you know growing up in very rural community, kind of shape you today?

Scott Ericson  17:36  

Yeah, I think that's, I, first of all, I loved I loved growing up in Hermiston. And in the in the late 70s, and 80s. You know, it was it was a very, very good place to, to grow up riding your bikes, and, and it's a small town, it's a small community. And there are a lot of entrepreneurs in small communities, right. Every business the gas station was run by a family and the farms are run by families and the plumbing, the plumbing companies and the plumbing store and the clothing store that we went and Burnham's that we went and bought our clothes, that was a family run business. So you grew up around your friends and families being entrepreneurs, my dad was an entrepreneur, and he owned a restaurant, and then and a building materials supply location. And that's where I got a little bit of my background, a little bit of my experience, he he had run both of those businesses in our local town. So I think growing up there and seeing all of your neighbors at the football games and seeing all your neighbors at the restaurants, and the sense of community and support for small business certainly gave me some passion for it.

Gabriel Flores  18:41  

Yeah, I would agree, you know, grown up in those small, small rural communities. It's just, you kind of you kind of make do what what you have, you know, and sometimes when you need the assistance, you call the neighbors and there tend to be right there. So, you know, going through it, what is what is something that you learned, you know, starting this business that you wish you probably would have known before you started it?

Scott Ericson  19:06  

Oh, that's a really good question, too. I think I wish I had known that it's easier than you think, to start your own business. You know, when when you're standing on the edge there and you're trying to decide art, am I going to leave my corporate position? Or am I going to leave the company that I'm with or am I going to leave the job that I'm at to start my own business? It takes a lot of confidence. You know, and you're looking at and you think there's just this entire huge cliff that you're about ready to step off. And then when you take that step it's it's it's jolting. It's like a curb. You're just like, that's it. Okay, that's not that bad. I can do this. And so you know, I even gained a lot more confidence. So I wish I had known sooner. I probably would have started this business with Jennifer. We would have started it sooner had we know On that it wasn't as terrifying as as it as we thought or expected that it was going to be.

Gabriel Flores  20:07  

Yeah. And looking looking kind of back on it, what advice would you give either your younger self, or younger individuals thinking of becoming entrepreneurs?

Scott Ericson  20:22  

Be ready to be ready to put in the work. I think that's if I were to give myself the advice, and we did. I mean, that was certainly something we were we worked weekends, we worked evenings, be ready to put in the work. Be patient, but be diligent. The there were a lot of times that we thought, okay, you, maybe this isn't gonna work. Um, you had mentioned that earlier about self doubt. You know, there were a lot of times that we had questioned ourselves, there wasn't a lack of confidence in our ability. It was just like, did we have the right model? And the next day, we would get a client, and a client would call us, so you never know what's around that corner. So if you're just patient and you stick to your, your goals, I think that that would be the advice and then the other thing that I would probably get myself, I, another book that really changed us was traction. And a lot of people have read the book traction by Gino Gino, I'm facing his last name. But anyway, the book traction talks about visionaries, and it talks about integrators. And my partner is definitely an integrator. She is a taskmaster, she has tons of lists, checkboxes, she is extremely organized, extremely detailed, and I'm more of a visionary. And so I was always looking for the next okay, this, I got an idea, I got an idea. This is an awesome idea. And someone told me early on, you know, every idea is awesome until it isn't. And I think that the advice I would give myself is stay in your sandbox, because that's the advice that she gave me in the beginning. Um, don't try to jump out until you can you you have the ability, the resources and the systems in place to be successful. But I was always thinking that I had the next greatest idea and it had it not been for her saying, Hold on, hold on. We're doing a really good job right now in our sandbox. Let's stay here right now stay in our lane, do what we do well, execute. Well, we always have a time for to take another opportunity. But maybe this one, isn't it right now.

Gabriel Flores  22:28  

Let's let's talk about your partner for a little bit, because you pulled out a very high esteem. Yeah, how important is she to your success, she

Scott Ericson  22:37  

is everything to our success. Going into business with a partner is is scary in itself. I mean, you have so many things that you need to be concerned with professionally, if you can't work personally. Those are the professional obstacles are almost impossible to overcome. And we knew that we could work together we had worked together before, but we've not worked together one on one, we were in two different areas of the corporate office, two different sides of the building, we never sat in the same room together. So we had to get to know each other on a very personal level. And, but I have, she's brilliant. She's an incredible marketer. She is creative, she's a bit she has vision. She's detailed, she has really complimented our, my my deficiencies and the things that I don't have. We had a client, one of our first clients say to us, after our first meeting, said don't ever breakup, you guys are so good together. And we really have taken that to heart, we we respect each other, we work in our respective areas, but we don't, but we do it together, make a lot of the same decisions. And we come to a lot of the same conclusions. And sometimes we don't. And then we have to, you know, negotiate.

Gabriel Flores  23:56  

Love it. Love it and just like marriage. So tell the guests at home, how if they're interested, and maybe they have a company that maybe need some of your service, how do they contact Well, housewarming tweet,

Scott Ericson  24:08  

from our websites, probably the easiest way wheelhouse 20 And we have a contact us form right on there. And you can get a hold of us and we have we don't charge anything for a consultation, we'll sit down and talk about your organization, from operations to sales to marketing, look at all the different silos. Look at the tools and resources and the foundational pieces you have a lot of people you know, it's interesting, we have a lot of our clients who come in and want to start right with social media, they want to start with search engine optimization and search engine marketing and they want to start putting ads out on the internet and and we're like you don't even have the foundational pieces in place. So we'll we'll go back and we'll look at all of those things to make sure that our clients have a successful experience with us. Before we'll just take on a client

Gabriel Flores  24:49  

and who would be considered your typical client, a company like

Scott Ericson  24:53  

our lumber company, matter of fact, when we left our power became our client. The day after we left they hired us back on And they became our first client actually. So lumber yards in the in the Portland market or nationally, we work with distribution companies and manufacturers like some of you might recognize Fiberon, which is a composite decking company. They're one of our clients, and companies like Nygaard windows or Louisiana Pacific siding. Those are those are companies that we would work with nationally.

Gabriel Flores  25:26  

Alright, last question. Would you do it all again?

Scott Ericson  25:30  

In a heartbeat? Absolutely. 100%. And I think this what I love about what you're doing right now, Gabe, is it's so appropriate, because there is a flux, there's a change in the market right now. There's a lot of talented, brilliant people that are in transition from their companies because of COVID. And so if I were to give any advice, I would say, Yeah, take this opportunity right now while you're in flax, to look at the opportunities to start your own business. And there's a gap in the in the entrepreneurial channel, I think, between this Small Business Association, where we started that helped you with your getting your LLC and getting all your listing. It's, it's, it's helpful, but it doesn't teach you or tell you how to be an entrepreneur. And then you have the entrepreneurs, organization, EO. So those are two very good organizations, but there's not a lot in the middle. And that's what I think you're providing right now is a resource for people to say, Okay, I'm really thinking about this. I'm not going to get what I need from the SBA. I'm not a member of EO, where am I going to find out if I want to be or can be an entrepreneur? And what are some of the pitfalls and challenges and opportunities? And that's why I think your service is so valuable. And

Gabriel Flores  26:40  

this is why I love having these conversations, because I think you said it best earlier. You know, it's not as scary. The jump is not as big.

Scott Ericson  26:48  

No, it really is if you have if you have a good idea and you have confidence and you really want it, you can make it happen.

Gabriel Flores  26:57  

Everybody has a good idea until it's not a good idea. All right. Scott Erickson, the founder and co owner of wellhouse 2020. Thank you, everybody. Thank you and good night. Thank you.

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