Entrepreneur finds success by investing in human resources, focusing on what his company does best
Lucrative job offers in Kansas City and Illinois couldn’t lure Scott Boyd away from Columbia after he completed his degree in chemical engineering at the University of Missouri. He and his wife, Beverly, met at MU and both graduated in 1983, Beverly with a degree in animal science and agricultural economics.
“We loved Columbia and our church, so we decided to stay put,” Boyd said.
The pair worked various odd jobs to support their growing family. Scott worked for a year as an environmental engineer for the state and did a stint at 3M before taking a job with J. Louis Crum as a project engineer on construction projects — where he found his calling.
After a couple of positive learning experiences into mechanical contracting entrepreneurship with others, Boyd and partner, Rick Bartelt, became sole owners of QuesTec Mechanical in 2001.
“The biggest risk was not taking a risk,” said Boyd of the decision. “When you take a risk, it causes you to grow beyond what you thought possible for yourself.”
The contracting firm specializes in plumbing and HVAC piping for commercial, institutional and commercial residential projects. They did a comfortable $3 million in business in 2001 and by 2013, one business had become four and the year’s total had climbed to $30 million. The company’s high-profile contracts include MU’s football stadium, University Healthcare’s Orthopaedic Institute and Columbia’s Battle High School, among others.
Boyd said he and Bartelt are 50-50 partners in the business but they are very different people with different approaches to challenges. Having to work through those differences has worked well for them.
“Most of my current work involves people skills. We’ve developed apprenticeship programs and a leadership program,” Boyd said, adding that it’s important to develop leaders of character who have grown themselves, but who also know how to help other people grow in their jobs. “That way, you’re on a team and it’s winning,” he said. All three of Boyd’s sons are on the winning team.
“It’s about empowering and encouraging people,” he said. “And you have to care — about your employees, your customers and your suppliers.”
QuesTec’s early and continued use of new technologies has contributed to the company’s success. Boyd said entire building designs are electronically modeled in 3-D, which allows for accuracy and efficient integration of all piping and plumbing systems as any given project progresses through construction. Components can be pre-cut and spooled at the company’s headquarters with certainty that everything will seamlessly fit together at the job site.
Other successful strategies that have increased QuesTec’s efficiency are the initiation of a barcoding system for every item in the company’s extensive inventory of plumbing and heating parts, current software programs for project management, project estimation and company accounting systems.
“We also employ programmers to create programs to have our different software programs communicate with each other,” Boyd said.
These investments in efficiency have, Boyd added, allowed the company to come in as the lowest bid on mechanical construction projects for both new and remodeling jobs. The company has had plenty of work even during periods of economic downswing.
“We’re the best at one thing. Even if the economy drops, we’re still the best,” he said. It is better job security to be the best at one thing rather than diversified and mediocre at many things.”