The Sydney Kings basketball team might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to learning how to succeed in business, but for Brad Rosen, co-director of Sydney-based Glenco Electrical Services, plying his trade on the court at the peak level was the perfect training ground.
When Rosen was younger, his parents encouraged him to pursue his sporting talents, but to also gain a trade to guarantee an income after his sport career ended.
“I give my parents the full credit that when I was growing up, I was basketball mad, and their words to me were, ‘You can play basketball, you can do whatever you like, but get yourself a trade’,” he says.
With this advice in mind, Rosen and his older Glen – the business’ namesake – gained their electrical apprenticeships.
“Glen’s seven years older than me, so he started his apprenticeship first and then I did my apprenticeship after that, and when I finished, I came and worked with him,” Rosen explains. “So Glenco was already formed and it was working out the back of my mum’s station wagon, the poor thing,” he laughs.
When he joined, Rosen was at the peak of his sporting prowess, playing for the Sydney Kings junior team. “When I finally got the chance to become a full-time player, that was fantastic – ‘what electrical?’ were the words back then! And then to be able to captain the team was a great honour.”
Glen continued in the business while Rosen played professional basketball for a living. But after six years with the Kings and two shoulder reconstructions later, it was time to hang up his boots.
“It was a chance of a lifetime and I loved every second of it, but I was even more lucky to get back out of that and be able to have a business,” Rosen says.
The brothers have different responsibilities in the business, although Rosen is quick to point out that “everything we do we both touch base together”.
“I run the service day-to-day, where we go into properties,” he explains. “A lot of our work is real estate and strata, so I’ve got to liaise with real estate agents and let them know of costs involved; they’re very quick turnaround jobs.”
Glen, on the other hand, deals with the larger scale maintenance and domestic jobs. “We work for very minimal builders, we’re not in construction,” says Rosen.
For both men, learning valuable lessons in sport was a catalyst for personal growth. “My brother qualified for the Commonwealth Games in running, but unfortunately couldn’t go because he blew his knee out from the Seoul Olympics,” says Rosen. “So we’re very driven individuals and we thrive on success.”
The discipline cultivated on the court, too, has assisted Rosen’s business nous. “You need that or you can’t succeed. The number one thing is the client. So if they’re upset with something, it doesn’t matter if they’re right or wrong, it’s what they feel. What we need to do is find out why are they feeling that way and just fix it.”
In a 24-hour business that depends on communication, technological advancements in this area have provided the competitive edge in Glenco’s progression. About six years ago, Rosen realised they needed to improve their business invoicing system, which until then was manual and a “time-consuming and stressful part of the job”, he recalls.
“We had a system where all our [electricians] would go out to a job, write the receipt up and then give the client the copy, then come back to the office and give us a copy. We’d have to input that into our accounting package and then mail it out – it was just such a time logging situation.”
In order to find a solution to the problem, Rosen approached a Melbourne-based company to help them create a system to streamline their job information and invoicing.
“We created a system which works off a 3G mobile phone system, where I had a third party application installed on all [our internal] smartphone devices. Now at the beginning of the day, the electrician logs on via their smartphone devices and it gives them all their jobs for the day,” Rosen explains.
The new system allows the electricians to go to the job, press start when they get there, complete the job and then fill out the whole job sheet on their smartphone devices. “Then they hit send and that comes back to my office within 10 seconds. I have the facility to press a button and send the invoice straight out,” says Rosen.
This not only streamlined processes, it helped with cash flow as well. “We can now do anywhere between 50 and 90 jobs a day, which is twice as many as we used to,” Rosen says.
Glenco has adopted a ‘whole of business’ approach to take the business to another level.
“We’ve got landlines within our office, we’ve got internet, we have mobile phones, we have smartphone devices, we have third party applications that require a 3G network, we have cable internet coming into the office. The technology side, it’s scary to say this, right now our business can’t run without it,” Rosen says. “I have to have a company that number one is reliable, that doesn’t break down and number two, when I need something, I’m able to call them.”
Brothers in arms
Customer service has been a hallmark of Glenco’s success and continues to be a key focus. “My slogan here at Glenco is that anyone can be an electrician, but not everyone can be an electrician and run a business. We supply our clients with continual information, sending them emails [to let them know] we’ve finished this job, what we did at the job, send the invoice and thank them for the job. Property managers love that, they want to know what’s going on, so when a tenant rings them, they know that Glenco has been to the job and we know it’s fine.”
Fortunately for the duo, the similarities in their personalities have been an advantage in business. “[Glen and I] think the same, we both feel the same and we have a very, very good working relationship.”
The brothers maintain a healthy approach to any issues that come into play in the business.
“Everything we do, we do because we want to succeed, and we only want to make Glenco better,” Rosen says. “Nothing’s personal; you take it on the chin and you move forward. We’ve got 25 people that work here and we always say that’s the Glenco family. And it’s not just the people that work here, we’ve got about 70 mouths to feed, we’ve got a lot of people with wives and kids. Everything we do we do in a team environment; there’s no ‘I’ in team, and Glenco, well that’s what we are.”
Learning to lead staff was a challenge for Rosen, but it’s an area he has improved. Coming from a sporting background, he demands success from himself.
“And you expect others to be like that. That was very difficult, because not everyone can be like you. Work doesn’t always run smoothly. Guys get out of bed and they had a late night, they’ve had a shocking day or an argument with their wife, you’ve got to learn to be able to understand what that person’s going through, learn how to cope and to instruct what that person needs to do.”
The business is running on strong foundations and growth is on the radar for the industrious duo.
“When I say grow the business, I don’t mean have more people,” says Rosen. “Sometimes, the more people you have the more problems you have. But we do want to grow as a company, and for me I look at what we’re doing and how we can improve the systems we’ve got.”
It’s a family first approach to this day, with Rosen’s parents still helping out where they can.
“They just live for their kids, you know. My dad helps out in chasing up accounts, running around in cars and dropping off materials, and my mum comes in here and helps out in the office and does other things. My apprentice, who I taught, married my [former] secretary. We went down to their wedding in Wollongong and they now have twins, and I love that. It’s family, that’s what it’s all about.”
The future looks bright for Glenco. “We’ve just got so much that we want to do, so many plans that we want to do ... we’re enthusiastic and we thrive on it.”