Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SBJ Names Rodney Jetton the Top Local Sales & Marketing Executive for Southwest Missouri

SSE has increased revenues 77% to a record $6.2 million since Jetton Joined in 2010.  

Rod Jetton
SPRINGFIELD, MO- Schultz and Summers Engineering Marketing Director Rodney Jetton has been selected as the top local sales & marketing executive by the Springfield Business Journal for 2012.  Jetton said, “Receiving this recognition was a very pleasant surprise. I appreciate Stan and Bob hiring me and want to thank all my co-workers at SSE who have made our company so successful. Without the support of Jaymie, Marvin, Amanda, Debby and Sheila there is no way our program could have achieved these results. It is truly a team effort.”

In 2008 SSE opened two new offices in New Orleans and Branson, showing they were a company on the move, but like many small companies the growing pains were difficult.  Finding quality workers, building new business structures and having the cash to keep up with the growth were putting a strain on the company.  The downturn in the economy came at a very bad time for SSE.  Owner Stan Schultz said, “Our business was growing and we made some big decision to expand right before the economy blew up.  The economy killed our Branson office, business slowed at our Lake Ozark office, and in New Orleans we struggled to gain market share against the big boys.  2009 had started fast, but by winter we were concerned about the future.”

Stan Schultz
Early in 2010 former Speaker of the Missouri House Rod Jetton, was going through his own troubles.  He had been accused of assaulting a woman during a sexual encounter, which caused him to shut down his political consulting business. Also the FBI started a probe looking into a conflict of interest regarding his handling of a 2005 bill.  He was living in Cape Girardeau and had been turned down as a Sears’s appliance salesman.  Schultz remarked, “I read about Rods troubles in the paper, but knowing politics is a rough business, I felt confident that nothing would come of all the accusations flying at him, and I thought his abilities, and background would be a huge help to my company.  Bob and I told him his troubles would all be behind him soon and that he would have lots of opportunities, but I asked him if he would be willing to stick with me a year or two and help me get things organized at SSE and develop the new markets we were in.”

Rod joined SSE on March 8th and two days later he had to go to Kansas City and answer questions from a Grand Jury about his past legislative actions.  “Bob and Stan were unbelievably kind.  I show up, sign all my employment papers, and basically get in a car and drive to KC for a Grand Jury hearing. They had no idea if I would make it back or how bad the press could be for the company.”

While investigations, trials and accusations continued to swirl around Jetton everything worked out in the end.  The Grand Jury never filed an indictment and the assault case never went to a trial.  Jetton pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor, paid the court costs, but was never convicted of a crime.  He spent much of early 2010 in Louisiana redesigning the SSE website and working to develop the federal markets for SSE.  Those efforts allowed SSE to lock down several large government contracts to rebuild the levee systems around New Orleans.  Their federal revenue went from $800,000 in 2009 to over $3 million by 2011. 

Bob Summers
By July, Schultz and Summers was at max capacity in New Orleans so they asked Rod to head to Branson and help get that office producing.  Owner Bob Summers added, “What Rod helped Stan do in New Orleans by redesigning our website and doing direct sales was phenomenal.  The revenue from our federal work really helped us weather the tough economic storm, but we were losing money in Branson and desperately needed to turn it around.”

 The bad economy had hit Branson the hardest.  Commercial development had basically come to a standstill and SSE was an unknown company in that region.  No one was building anything and when there were projects; SSE was the new kid on the block.  “Schultz and Summers had a good team in Branson.  Brad Allbritton was a very likable young engineer who had a top notch technical staff, but with nothing being built it was a tough market to survive in,” said Jetton.  In August SSE threw a Cajun shrimp boil and over 300 realtors, bankers, community leaders and elected officials attended. Branson Operations Manager Brad Allbritton commented, “I didn’t know if a party was the best way to get business, but we picked up our biggest client from that event and I continue to have folks tell me how much they enjoy the boils.  I have to admit Rod knows how to get noticed.”

Enjoying Shrimp at the Cajun Boil
2010 saw Schultz and Summers Engineering build their federal business, redesign their website, host Cajun Boils, and publish a company newsletter to over 9,000 customers and prospects.  These activities resulted in record revenues of 5.5 million.  The growth required almost doubling their workforce from 31 to 68 employees and Schultz said, “Rod’s background in the Marine Corps and his experience as Speaker was invaluable in helping us make these changes.  His sales and marketing efforts were improving our brand name and bringing us business, but his advice on implementing a chain of command, improving our operation and budgeting processes, as well as hiring key staff also helped us better serve our clients.” 

Building a database of customers and prospects was something Rod had advocated in early 2010.  The database was ready to go for 2011 and the New Year started off with an aggressive marketing plan for SSE that included newsletters, mailings, parties, billboards, print advertising and all the social media necessities such as a company blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, and a YouTube channel.  These activities greatly increased the amount of business for their Missouri offices, which helped them keep their business diversified.   “Before we entered the federal market our company revenue came mostly from three sources, municipality work (50%), MoDOT related work (25%), and private development (25%).   Today the MoDOT work has slowed to only 5%, we are down to 10% for private development, up to 10% for gas and electric utilities line work, up to 35% in municipalities and up to almost 40% in federal work.  The economy has forced us to diversify,” said Schultz.     

The internet is one aspect of their marketing program that has really taken off.  They report receiving 600 to 700 unique page visitors on their site each month.  Additionally, they generated 72 Google hits and 22 newspaper stories in 2011.  They also report their email campaigns have been well received with almost a 30% open rate and an unbelievable 19% click through rate.  Jetton mentioned, “Our newsletters, press stories, parties, mailings, emails and blog posts are all designed to drive traffic to our site and improve our SOE.  Currently we show up on the first page of a Google search for all of our important keywords in all our markets including New Orleans.”  

Rod and Amanda at reception
One of their biggest marketing successes happened with their flood survey program at the Lake of the Ozarks. Their program included a Cajun Boil, three billboards, real estate magazines ads, multiple blog posts and quality website content about FEMA and flood surveys.  SSE technicians also conducted informative presentations to bankers, realtors and civic groups.  Lake Ozark marketing assistant Amanda LaPorte said, “This program resulted in a dramatic increase in survey orders.  We went from 24 flood surveys in 2010 to 657 in 2011, which is a 2,637% increase.  Not only has this increased our market share, but it has also helped us build brand awareness and relationships with the key decision makers who will be important when the economy takes off.  Already these small flood surveys have lead to 22 larger boundary surveys and two significant engineering projects.”
SSE Website Homepage

When asked what his role has been in the success of SSE Rod said, “This Company had a wonderful story to tell.  They provide services that greatly improve people’s lives. All I did was help set up the framework to tell that story.  Building a database, upgrading the website, developing a contact plan for customers and reformatting our proposal and presentation process were some of the major changes we implemented. Furthermore, sending out press releases, posting on the blog and utilizing social media platforms had a huge effect on helping folks notice us. I didn’t do this by myself though.  It took all of our engineers and technicians along with our marketing staff to build this system and keep it rolling.”  

Stan & Bob at ACEC Award Dinner
Bob & Stan with Inc. 5000
LORDAC President Brian Meisel, Stan Schultz,
Jim Fisher, Bob Summers, and Trisha Creach
Not only has this marketing plan increased SSE’s revenues it has resulted in them receiving a significant amount of recognition.  Stan Schultz was named to the Who’s Who list in Southeast Missouri and Bob Summers made ENR’s top 20 under 40 engineers list in 2011.  Recently the American Council of Engineering Companies of Missouri (ACEC/MO) gave them the Honor Award for their design of the Hayti Water Treatment plant and the Lake of the Ozarks Regional Economic Development Council chose Schultz and Summers Engineering as the 2011 Business Partner of the Year.  Additionally, Inc. 5000 included SSE on their list, at #1,613, of the fastest growing companies in America, (18th fastest growing Missouri Company.)  They also came in at #54th on the The Hot Firm List, compiled yearly by ZweigWhite.   That list ranks all engineering companies in America and they were the 2nd fastest growing Missouri engineering company to make the ZweigWhite list.   Schultz added, “I work every day to provide a dependable service to my customers, and it’s very exciting to see our company grow.  Having Rod help us explain what we do is defiantly bringing us more business, but doing a good job and helping people will always be the number one goal at Schultz and Summers Engineering.” 

Rod summarized by saying, “The Lord has blessed me with this opportunity to work at Schultz and Summers Engineering.  Stan and Bob took a huge chance on me and I’m very thankful for that.  This company is full of wonderful people to work with and I feel so good about what we are doing to improve people’s lives.  This award is just one more blessing I don’t deserve, but am so thankful for.”   

The SBJ had five judges evaluate all the nominations and pick winners.  They were Nancy Bass V.P. of human resources at Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), Jerry Chinn, a Computer Information Systems professor at Missouri State University, Dori Grinder, Executive Director of the Ozark Chamber of Commerce, Dianna Parker, instructor at OTC, and Kelley Still, an accounting professor at Drury University.  SBJ features editor Maria Hoover said, ‘We asked an independent panel of judges to choose the recipients.  We know that it could not have been an easy job, but we appreciate their help tremendously, because it keeps SBJ staff out of the award-selection process.  Please join the staff of the SBJ in celebrating the accomplishments of the Dynamic Dozen companies and the three individuals who were honored at the March 1 Dynamic Dozen event.” 

Rod with SBJ President Dianne Elizabeth Osis
More information on the Springfield Business Journal awards can be found at, http://sbj.net/main.asp?SectionID=48&SubSectionID=108&ArticleID=91291    

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