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May 13, 2022

E11: $30 Million by Staying True to Brand Values with Austin Meibers of Conexess

E11: $30 Million by Staying True to Brand Values with Austin Meibers of Conexess

In this episode, I speak to Austin Meibers, owner and partner in Conexess Group, headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan. Let's start with how he got into business, what got him started, and then we can get into where he is today. Austin has a vast... See show notes at: https://www.remotestartpodcast.com/e11-30-million-by-staying-true-to-brand-values-with-austin-meibers-of-conexess/#show-notes


In this episode, I speak to Austin Meibers, owner and partner in Conexess Group, headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan.

Let's start with how he got into business, what got him started, and then we can get into where he is today.

Austin has a vast knowledge and understanding of the staffing industry, and he is passionate about creating a strategy. I hope this conversation with Austin will take you and your business to something and help take you to the next level!

Let's find out and listen now, Remote Start Nation!

Learn more about Austin Meibers at: https://www.conexess.com/

Learn more about Remote Start Podcast at:  https://www.remotestartpodcast.com/

Transcript

Jim: What is up, Remote Start Nation! My name is Jim Doyon, and I wanna welcome you to another episode of Remote Start. Today we have a very special episode with a guest who I am very excited to introduce you to. Austin Meibers, owner and partner in Conexess Group, headquartered in Plymouth Michigan, their professional staff firm and I've seen Austin grow this company from a small, just him as a partner out of Plymouth out of Nashville into a company that's all over the country and the growth has just been incredible and an awesome is somebody always looked up to. Austin what is up my man, welcome to the Remote Start Nation podcast.

Austin: Good to see you Jim and good to see everybody listening to that.

Jim: So I wanna start with you know Remote Start is about starting a business, building a brand, and living your desired lifestyle, so you know I've always looked up to you in that living your desired lifestyle but let's start at the beginning, let's start with how you went into business what got you started and you know and then we can get into kind of where you are today.

Austin: Perfect, well kind of an ad time it start business but through learning the business, through some other staffing companies here in Michigan as well as down in Nashville getting a little different take on how different companies operate specifically in our space, I left those organizations in 2009 to start Conexess group now the first question I always get asked is, 2009 maybe not the best time to start a company but on the flip side I kind of looked at it in a sense of if we can start a company in 2009 and actually grow a company through the miss of recession just imagine what we can do when we get a established coming out of the recession. And for me my thought process behind starting and growing organization at that point in time was, you know, when I could dedicate a lot of my time energy day in day out to running and starting an organization because it is very time consuming, money intensive and those type of things but if I can do it where I don't have you know, four kids that are dependent on food on the table and mortgage payments and things like that, I felt like it was the perfect time to start it because it didn't work out, I could go another job and nobody was impacted if I was to do something those lines now my risk talent for a personal standpoint is very high but when I start putting it on you know four kids in a wife and those type of things that it becomes a pretty heavy burden to carry.

Jim: How old were you when you started?

Austin: Well, I was thirteen years ago now, so 29.

Jim: So did you before starting your business was it something that you would thought of in the past of, hey when I get you know, when I at some point I wanna run my own company or was like how did that come about?

Austin: I think at some point you know growing up I always kind of had the dream of starting my own business and I think nobody really knows growing up what they would sort of business in nor did I and you know through working through different organizations you know I kind of got to the point where I felt like I could do this job or run an organization and take some of the best practices from some companies I've work for in the past to tweak some things and get out of the gates and actually run my own company and do things a little bit differently than you know I kind of learn from some other I guess owners and leaders in the past.

Jim: So when starting your business with there are certain things that you had learned that you wanted to make sure you brought through with you know that dealt with like the customer service or you know what are some of those areas that you said, this is what I've learned, I'm gonna take it to another level.

Austin: Yeah so I mean, I think for me know at the beginning even more so today a very lifestyle, style focused business so trust, balance, and humility are three core values and one of the one that's probably most important to me is the balance aspect of things and you know be able to start a company putting an that for myself and I you know have balance from a personal and work standpoint over the years has been vitally important to me from a personal health standpoint and growing a successful business and you know, what I've always said is, I want that to trickle down so I don't want employees to start with me tomorrow, working around the clock seven days a week because at end of I don't think that's a sustainable scenario for somebody to be here long term. We take a lot of pride people starting with us and staying with us, so in terms of our internal attrition rate it's very low from an industry standard because, I think we have this set up internally where yeah numbers are important and we wanna grow a business but in order for that to be sustainable long term you know, you know for example myself I take my kids to school in the morning I take them up after school and is that during working hours yes but as long as we're getting our jobs done, I want people to have those same freedoms you know not only for myself but probably employee in the company.

Jim: So talk to me a little bit, so the Remote Start Nation understands more about your team and these values you're working throughout your organization. Talk a little bit more about what Conexess Group is and then we can go into some more of those values.

Austin: Yep, so when I started the company in 2009 like I said, I'd work for a couple other companies in the past and you know took some is out of those organizations and tweaked kind of what we were gonna do internally to make sure we service the client the right way, and at the beginning it was primarily focused in the in the software development space, staffing, from a staff augmentation standpoint as well as some project based work that we had done in the past from there we were able to grow the organization through hiring primarily just based off of you know culture fit internally so by that you know, what I, what I have always believed is know, I can teach people the intangible of the job and what to do and how to do it and how to become successful in this industry, what I can't teach people are their personality, their ability to build relationships in their competitive drive, those are things that I've tried to teach people those things in the past but unfortunately you know teaching some of those things that people either have or they don't have is next to impossible to do is what I've found out so we've hired primarily based off of those things and that's led to meet higher friends, family members, a lot of people that you know, may or may not even had any industry experience bringing them in under the Conexess umbrella teaching them how we do things, why we do things,  and that's led to a really good and dynamic internal culture you know at Conexess Group and you know I think and the flip side people are like hey every business book I read, don't hire friends, don't hire family, those type of things and I've read some of those same books and you know my thought process behind it is, if you're gonna treat people the right way and treat people how you wanna be treated, why would you not wanna work with you know your brother, your best friends, and those type of things but yeah could you hire every your friend or relatives that you have mean maybe, maybe not but I also don't think that to shut those doors completely is something that I haven't thought was the best thing to do internally and it's allowed me to get to work with some of my best friends from high school, get to work with my brother and my best friend growing up, and do it all at the same time of grown a business from 2009 we started the company we did right around a million hours in revenue last year we did just right around thirty million dollars in revenue and currently on pace this year when I pays you about thirty three. So we've had some pretty good growth over the years, but we've never veer away from the balance aspect of things and we can grow a business, but we don't have to do the at the sacrifice of being around friends, family and loved ones too and that's kind of the balance aspect of you know one of our core values like, how can we do this and what's the best way to do it to make sure we're driving each other but the not at the expensive missing kits soccer games and dance titles and those type of things.

Jim: Which that living that lifestyle is so important and something that I think so many entrepreneurs get away from, they're so ingrained in building their business and being so hands on and I know you and I in the past talked about surrounding yourselves with the right people and you've seen it you've been able to do that with family and friends and, you know talk to me a little bit about your growth, you just talked about your growth, but what is, how are you growing, how, what have you found success in I know you, you know, you started in Nashville then Plymouth and talk to me about that.

Austin: So in the past probably I guess, I guess the first ten years our growth was primarily just organic, so we hire some individuals whether they experience or not bring them up to speed and how we think do things internally and then we would transition business that we've had over the years to those individuals and then they would take the ball and run with it and I would move on to something else as far as seeing what other potential clients could identify and grow in those type of things and that worked really well for us, for a while, the last few years we've we pivoted a little bit maybe from a higher level standpoint of, could we acquire you know clients through small acquisitions so in our space, you know, now that we're a thirty million dollar company, I get plenty of calls from private equity firms and things like that of, hey would you be interested in selling and what valuation, why, and why not, that those type of things that's I'm not really interested in going down that road right now, I mean when I don't get those calls but I really like you know what I've done and established and the people that I'm around and they want me to keep running the company and I obviously wanna keep running the company too, but what we found is this niche of like when you start a company in our space I guess specifically if you fall within the zero to five million dollars in revenue standpoint, there's zero interest from other their private equity firms or other companies in general, about country acquiring those companies and the primary reason is there's like no diversification of clients, so what I mean by that is you might be a four million dollar company and have two clients well a private equity firm at the they, they would say there's no way that we could acquire this company because the risk associated with losing one or two of those clients is like the company could be worth a million bucks or it could be worth nothing tomorrow and those are you know situations they wanna get involved in through kind of maybe some thinking outside the box and talking to some different individuals that kind of fall in that space, we found a pretty good niche of those owners are kind of running around, selling, recruiting back office, financial risk and those type of things that they may or may not even wanna do, and to get from that five million dollars threshold, thirty million dollars threshold there's some pretty big components from a risk tolerance standpoint that people would have to do and a lot of times people aren't comfortable doing those things for a variety of different reasons whether it's family financial stress, whatever it may be, underneath our company umbrella we already have a lot of those processes in place so we could acquire a small company like that and take on no additional back office support throughout on those organizations and while they'll previous owners to really focus on what they're good at and driving some future growth for us and yeah is there's some risk associated with buying a small company that maybe only has one or two clients, absolutely but if it's structured in the right way where the company is worth hypothetically speaking a million dollars, you're not gonna a million dollars upfront, you're giving them a small portion of that then over the next couple years they're gonna get that assuming that all the business transitions over properly, so there's always an element of risk obviously, but if a structured the right way the risk can be minimized and some of those acquisitions have led to you know, some of our growth in the last few years because we've been able to pick up clients that we never would've known about in past.

Jim: And if some of the challenges I imagine you face or as you're looking at acquiring, it has to be somebody that fits within your culture and understand your values, right?

Austin: Correct, yes. So when I went into this whole you know kind of like, hey pivot could we do something a little bit different to drive some future growth a new clients for those type of things, my primary goal was to target small companies where the owners would ultimately come over to Conexess group and acquire some type of equity in the Conexess umbrella, now we've every acquisitions, we've done so far the previous owners kind of wanted to get out of the industry altogether so in those scenarios we acquired some of their business and then we managed to, you know, with through our internal Conexess group employees here. Now, could that change absolutely mean I still think finding somebody that you know had the right mindset, the right culture fit, you know as far as what we're trying to do here internally Conexess group, could we do even more significant growth if we can find those individual leaders that wanna come in be a part of what we're trying to accomplish, but all the acquisitions we've done so far, although they've been great financially, those leaders have moved on to either retirement or some job in another industry, which is fine and we've talking over that business, taking over that business and done really well it, but in the future there could be scenarios where, we acquire a small organization and those leaders wanna stay on board and then we kind of negotiate what that scenario looks like long term for those people too.

Jim: What does, what does the business look like in five years?

Austin: I mean that's a good question, so a lot of times people ask me like, hey did you see yourself in this situation running this company when you started, I think the short answer is no. I think there's a lot of people that go into for entrepreneurship or you can map out till the cows come home like this is right be in five years, ten years, fifteen twenty years ,and then I thought day you never started a company yeah, where I kind of focused on like hey I think I can do this, I can do it better than maybe some voice I've worked in the past just get out there and do it, and then over time, you know, as you start tweaking things and hiring the right people those things will naturally happen so that's led us to grow over the years and my philosophy from an ownership standpoint is I never wanna lose a good employee do to a lack of growth potential, so what I mean by that if I wanted to start a company run a company and I just find hire people that had no growth potential opportunities underneath my company I would have a ton of turnover because those people would be like well, if I can't go anywhere move up within the organization I'm gonna take another job where I can move up so some of those things have naturally happen because you hire good people that are competitive and wanna improve well I have to from our standpoint provide them those opportunities otherwise they're not gonna be here. So when I look at a five year projection I think we'll continue to grow because you know we've come at thirteen years so we just passed thirteen years and we've grown every year so I think we're doing something right now I think it's gonna be growth thirty small acquisitions and you know not swing for the fences type of thing where we the country go from where we're at today thirty million -ish to could we get to fifty sixty million dollars yes, so we gonna be a billion dollar company, no but I think know I can look myself in the mirror and no scenarios like, I could grow the company after but it would involve a lot of personal sacrifices that wouldn't wanna make, so I still think we can grow if we surround ourselves to the right people and be strategic about some of these small acquisitions but with us that you know buying a company our size and taking those huge financial risks as well as the limitations I'm gonna put on myself of like I'm not gonna be bouncing all with the country trying to break clients and grow our business we will continue to grow I just think of would be a clip of maybe, I don't know, eight to twelve percent a year as opposed up we're gonna double every two years type of thing.

Jim: And as a leader you've been able to install that your team and know kind of goes back to surrounding yourself with the right people, right? and everybody on the same, on the same page and understanding that your company values, and the values that you're bringing to the team like, that's the most important it doesn't, yes, you wanna grow like you just said, right? But at the same time, you don't wanna do it at the spence of put stressing everybody out and not being able to be around your family and you know doing all I respect that so much.

Austin: Yeah, I mean, I'm sure we've all worked for companies where you show up every day and it's never enough, you know, it's kind of like cash, like you go home you're like man there's these people ever gonna be satisfied and you know we all wanna grow because repetitive otherwise we wouldn't be in some of the seats that we're in, but at what cost is the big thing, you know, and I think not only look at myself as far as what that can you know what consists of you know that from running the company but looking at other individuals inside the company of like, I don't want people to feel like I'm all over them to grow business and they're having to sacrifice things that I personally don't sacrifice either my philosophy been, I don't expect my employees to do anything that I wouldn't do myself so I'm gonna have good work life balance do some these things I expect I employees of those things too and whether that's, hey I got a call, I'm gonna add dinner it's really important, I might take it I might not take and I don't know when everybody can make those calls are those judgment calls on their own as far as the importance of what needs to be done you know, and off work hours but that doesn't mean they need to be changed their desk from eight to five either.

Jim: So what's one piece of advice you'd give a, someone came you today and said, Austin I wanna start my own business, what's one piece of advice you'd give them?

Austin: Is to not overthink the aspect of starting their own business. I can't tell you how many people have talk to that have a business idea and they proposals and all these all these different things documented as far as and then they never do it, you know, I think there's an element of don't overthink it because if you expect have everything figured out before you even get your website going or hire your first employee you're crazy, you're gonna have the constantly think on the fly but my biggest piece of advice is, if you have a good idea and you're really passionate about something take the week of faith and do it, because if you sit back and analyze every component of why you should or shouldn't do it, you'll never start a company.

Jim: Yeah, it's start something, start something today, just get it started, right? You can always tweak it, you can always make it better, you know, with branding it's a it's a big thing too like, if you don't have to have the perfect logo, you don't have to have the perfect, you know all your value is set up in the beginning like just start, get it started, get on the phone hammer, it out get find the clients and the rest will fall into the place.

Austin: Yeah because there's a lot of people you know they're like well, I start a company like what about a year from now where am I gonna be or two it's like, I didn't know when I started coming 2009 in the middle of a recession where I'd be in 2010, or 2011, or heard today but it's was something I felt passionate about that you know, I can do and you know people thought up was crazy at the time, but you know it's pan out so I think you know my biggest piece of advice is, don't try and figure everything out before you even open the doors because you're gonna have like I ran my first payroll, I started my company and then I'll sudden it came to my first payroll and I'm like man no really know how to run payroll you know some calling my uncle goal and call I'll place two different people but it sounds crazy it's like well you shared a company don't not run payroll and it's like, well yeah because I knew like how the business operated and how to make money all these other things I can figure out on the fly and, and I did and you know over time I've hired people that kind of take on some of those roles responsibilities because my accounting skills are not the best.

Jim: So is that was, that one of your first big hires was someone to run the financial aspect of the business?

Austin: Yeah, that was a big stress mine, I mean I did a lot of the financial stuff for a while, I mean inefficient would probably be a compliment so when, I when I bought out my business partner eight years ago one of my big dresses was finding a really good back office person that I know and trust and you know, I was actually able to find somebody through some co workers of mine, that played the golf with somebody that, we went to high school with, that was you know local CPA here that came on board and goes back to the culture fit and you know I know obviously you know that rolls more numbers focus but that doesn't mean they're not a part of the company and we want there to be a good culture fit as far as what we're trying to do and not only from an accounting standpoint but from a recruiting sales standpoint to of really finding that person that can you know, you know check a few different boxes as far as what we're trying to accomplish.

Jim: Do you think you have you got a big family there, you ever think one of your kids will jump in and take over one day?

Austin: Yeah, that we always joke around because my oldest is ten, so then you know, my older brother works for me down in Nashville, he's like so you think one day I'm gonna be working for griffing you know sounds like possibly I don't know if they're wanna you know jump into the staffing world but yeah, I think that'd be pretty cool to I already mixed a lot of family and friends as it relates to work that that's a little bit different element adding a son and daughter to the mix but I think that stuff could be lot to fun across us too.

Jim: You to hand the keys over to grief, what's the biggest thing you'd make sure he followed along your footsteps with?

Austin: I just think the various thing is just, treat people how you wanna be treated, you know, people like, why do they stay or you know those type of things, I mean I really try in value relationships not only my family friends but everybody inside of the company, you know, as far as what we're trying to provide for them and their families and you know that's what I try and instil him is like hey we're running a company but we're all people, and we wanna treat people the right way, we trying to grow a business does everyone need to put food down the table absolutely but I think we can do it in the right way of treating people the right way too.

Jim: And you are, of all the people I know in business, you live the lifestyle that you wanna live up there with the best of them and I absolutely respect and love the fact that you, your office, your home is all downtown where you live around where your, your kids go to school, you walk your kids to school, I absolutely love that in respect that about you and I, you know hats off on them man, i think that's such a cool thing so you know. On that, is that was that something you thought out a long time before it happened or did it just kind of happen that way?

Austin: Yeah, I mean I definitely think from an entrepreneur standpoint starting a company before I had kids was definitely easier on me from a mentality standpoint of, I didn't have anything to do Monday at six or seven o'clock at night, I could focus on driving a business and what we're trying to accomplish from those type of things you know, now if you ask me if that was a start a company you know find a miss my have a soccer game or my daughter's dance resital, it would be a lot harder decision to make you know as opposed at the beginning I didn't I lived in apartment didn't have a lot responsibility outside of you know my job so I was able to focus a lot of time and energy in specifically kind of getting it started ultimately to get to the point where around where I'm that today where I could you know take my kids to school you know taking them the soccer game sack tournaments and those type of things and I have to sacrifice those things at the beginning I think any entrepreneur would tell you it's a lot of work to get these things started and I think that's why know finding companies are in the zero to five million dollar range those owners are wearing a lot of different hats so it's a pretty stressful job if you, if you tack on some kids and they're trying to do that at the same time, you know, I understand that that's a big burden carry of growing a business, I did it but I wouldn't have other options in a sense of nobody was calling us to buy us so my focus was like let's just keep going and we'll figure it out later, you know, now we have a lot of people in the right spots, my job is easier and now than it was you know when we're a four million dollar company but it takes a lot of work to get there too.

Jim: So awesome where, where can the Remote Start Nation, if they're out there, they wanna find out more about you, they wanna find out more out about your brand, where can they go to find that?

Austin: Yeah I mean, I'm you know in our business, and good are bad we're always on LKinkedin you know, networking with various professionals across the country especially the way the world works now, we used to all be in offices every day and now we have people sitting in all fifty states that you know I know via zoom and it is what it is you know in that regard but if anyone wants to reach out to me via Linkedin then shoot me a message schedule a call whatever it may be you know I'm kind of like Jim in this in the standpoint of you know I wanna help people kind of, if they wanna take that leap of faith but they're never start company said lot around payroll or whatever maybe, I can have those phone calls with people and I was lucky off my uncle had an time practice so he's like I'm like how do I you know the IRS sent me a letter I don't own this money like what do I do, you know, I had somebody from an entrepreneurship standpoint to call on and you know if I can be that sounding board or Jim can be that sound before for anybody on this podcast, you know, I'm always accessible bit a we'll you know feel free to find me on Linkedin or Jim can send that out and shoot me a message and you know I'd be more than happy to help wherever I can.

Jim: And I'll put, I'll put in your show notes your Linkedin profile and your website for your company and the Remote Start Nation can find you that way. And with that said Austin and I wanna thank you so much for being on today's episode and such great value for the Remote Start Nation. Thank you. Means the world to me man.

Austin: Thanks a lot Jim. I'll talk to that everyone later.

Jim: Alright, see you!

Jim Doyon Profile Photo

Jim Doyon

Entrepreneur

My name is Jim Doyon. I'm a father to three awesome kids, husband to an incredible wife and the oldest sibling to a large split family.I'm currently on a mission and I can't wait to share with you. We sold our house back in 2020, and we've been traveling this beautiful country in a 42-foot Travel trailer ever since. We visited 34 states, and are about to embark on our second loop around the country, stopping at some of our favorite spots again, but also getting to see new areas that the US has to offer.We are trying to experience this life to its fullest spending quality time together. I'm running a business and building brands along the road. We've been fortunate enough on this journey to meet new friends, catch up with old friends and family on many of our stops. We love exploring each City from downtown's to the natural resources it has to offer. I'm passionate about mountain biking and it's not only in my way to get out and explore but to exercise, clear my head, think, and strategize.

Austin Meibers Profile Photo

Austin Meibers

Founder

Austin Meibers is the owner and partner in Conexess Group, headquartered in Plymouth Michigan. Conexess Group is a provider of temporary and permanent staffing services. Its goal is to help clients meet their changing business needs by providing reliable, flexible, and cost-effective staffing services. Conexess has experience staffing the following professions: Engineering, Human Resources, Accounting/Finance, and Information Technology Roles.