Chad Setchell with Hansen Air

Chad Setchell with Hansen Air

On this week's podcast, Marcus sits down with Chad Setchell. Chad is the owner of Hansen Air, a business specializing in air conditioner and heater repair in Mobile and surrounding counties. Listen to this week's episode and hear how working hard and having drive is essential in running your own business.

Produced by Blue Fish in Mobile, Alabama


Chad Setchell: My name is Chad Setchell. I'm the owner of Hansen Heating & Air, Hansen Plumbing, and Hansen Electric.

Marcus Neto: Awesome. Well, it's good to have you on the podcast, Chad.

Chad Setchell: Thank you. It's great to be here.

Marcus Neto: No, so we're fans of yours, because your guys completely took a job that I thought was going to take forever and did it lickety-split. So full disclosure, Chad helped us with the renovation here, and I was so impressed, I wanted to get him on the podcast. Thank you for being here.

Chad Setchell: We greatly appreciate it.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Well, to get started, we usually like to hear the story of the person that we're talking to. Tell us the story of Chad. Where are you from? Did you grow up here in Mobile? Where'd you go to high school? Did you go to college? Anything along those lines.

Chad Setchell: I didn't grow up here. I moved here about 14 years ago. I grew up in a small town in Iowa. From there, I moved to Missouri with my family. I quit high school to go work for an electrical contractor. Moved down to Mobile just to visit my mom. She moved down here with her husband. I loved it so much, I decided this is where I was going to stay.

Marcus Neto: Nice. Yeah. Very good. I mean, that's very similar to our story. Now I love this, because we've proven over the course of like 140-plus episodes, that there's no rhyme or reason, like high school dropouts, college dropouts, people with masters and PhDs.

Chad Setchell: Right.

Marcus Neto: I would consider you to be ... I don't know your numbers, or anything, but I would consider you to be a successful entrepreneur and a successful business owner. Having dropped out of high school, did you just find yourself just not engaged in school, or what was it?

Chad Setchell: Not at all. Not at all. It wasn't doing anything for me whatsoever. That's my fault it wasn't doing anything for me, but it just came to a point where I had an opportunity to go work for someone where I could go to school. At the time, I decided to go work for someone.

Marcus Neto: As an electrician, you have to go and be an apprentice. Is that correct?

Chad Setchell: Yes.

Marcus Neto: Describe to people what that process is like, because I don't think many people ...

Chad Setchell: Well, I mean, they use the word apprentice, and that's just a really fancy word for a helper, gofer, do whatever you're told to do. I mean, the biggest thing is ... In my age when I grew up, you just had to really work hard to advance. That's pretty much what we had to do. There wasn't a whole lot of schooling back then. You had a lot of vo-tech stuff in school, but nothing that you would get hands-on.

Marcus Neto: Right. Yeah. Do you remember ... I mean, let's go back to your very first job, the flipping burgers, or scrubbing toilets, or whatever that job.

Chad Setchell: Yes.

Marcus Neto: Do you remember that first job? What was it? Were there any lessons that you still remember from that job?

Chad Setchell: The first job I ever did was just mowed grass for a company, just in junior high into high school, and the biggest lesson was just to work hard. Just to work hard, and work hard, and work hard, and be prepared, and be ready to do whatever you were told to do.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. I gather you've just carried that into-

Chad Setchell: Absolutely. I try to impress it on my people. It's almost a dying art anymore.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Chad Setchell: Yeah. That's the only thing I've really ever known since day one.

Marcus Neto: How do you get from high school dropout, apprentice ... Obviously, you went electrician. You a master electrician?

Chad Setchell: No. I just went to a journeyman electrician. Then I got into the air conditioning field.

Marcus Neto: Okay.

Chad Setchell: I really started in the air conditioning and electrical at about the same time, so I've been doing air conditioning work just for a little bit over 30 years.

Marcus Neto: Wow. How do you get from that, being somebody who's really just working for someone, to now? I mean, you guys have been growing like gangbusters. I mean, every time I turn around, I'm seeing one of your trucks.

Chad Setchell: Yeah. We've probably over 80 employees, probably over 60 vehicles. I mean, money-wise, we probably sell in between 12 and 16 million a year in the Mobile-Baldwin County area. I mean, we grow at a fast rate and at a fast pace. Really, like what I try to tell everybody, just the growth is out of necessity. We try to have the philosophy that no matter what, we are going to do whatever work comes our way. We don't say no, unless it's something that doesn't fit what we try to do. So if anybody calls and said, "Hey, we need this," we're going to be prepared, and we're going to be there, and we're going to do it. If it takes adding people, adding vehicles, adding space, that's what we're going to do.

Marcus Neto: Now it's interesting, because a lot of business owners don't have that same mindset, and so they're just content to stay with their couple of folks that they have working for them, and not push and grow.

Chad Setchell: Absolutely. It takes a lot to make that decision to grow, because not only we are investing in vehicles, investing in inventory, investing in office space, you're investing in people.

Marcus Neto: Right. That's the hardest part.

Chad Setchell: That's the hardest part is to pull someone onboard, and all the sudden, you're responsible for them, too. That takes a lot of decision-making. No matter what, I'm going to do that, and we're going to make it work. What I try to do early on is I always stayed top-heavy. I always had too many people. That just made me that much more aggressive. Continuing to be aggressive, you continue to get more work, and you have to do it all in an ethical and proper manner. But, I mean, that just makes me be more aggressive on a daily basis about customer service is number one. Commitment to quality is number two. We all have to communicate, all have to push every single day to do the right thing.

Marcus Neto: Right. Well, I mean, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I've never quite experienced customer service from somebody in trades like I experienced from you. I won't go into great detail, but suffice it to say like even the small stuff of when you were bringing people here, it wasn't just two guys. I mean, I literally came in, and you had a dozen or more people here at one time. That was almost every time you came out. It was just, "Get the job done. Get it done quickly. Get it done well." There were like one or two things that needed to be adjusted when you were doing our install, and it was like no questions asked. You fixed it and just moved on. I know I've told at least probably 10 or 12 people about you since then, because it's just so uncommon. I went into that experience of general contracting this renovation kind of with some trepidation, because it's not an easy thing.

Chad Setchell: Absolutely.

Marcus Neto: Then you start talking to people that are in the trades, and it's like you just get this weird kind of vibe, like, "Well, I don't know." There's a lot of wishy-washiness. I think I found some good contractors that were willing to work with me, but that was after I went through a bunch of contractors that just seemed like they weren't interested in the work at all, period.

Chad Setchell: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. Those are the same ones that always say, though, at the end of the day, "Why can't I grow?"

Marcus Neto: Right.

Chad Setchell: I mean, and that's another thing that's helped us tremendously, too, is that we don't say no. We do whatever it takes. Then people will catch that from us, and it just overtakes our competition to the point where we're the people that they want to call, because they know no matter what, we're going to come. We're going to do it. We're going to be honest and committed to it, and we're also going to be accountable. We make a mistake, we're going to fix it.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Now do you remember the first sale that you made where you thought, "Hey, man, there might be something to this?"

Chad Setchell: That's one thing about this whole thing is I'm horrible at sales. I am probably the worst salesperson in the entire world. And people just can't understand how that is, but it's the truth. I am absolutely-

Marcus Neto: How many millions did you say you're doing, and you're a horrible salesperson?

Chad Setchell: Yeah. I'm absolutely horrible at it.

Marcus Neto:

Chad Setchell: A lot of it, too, is being so bad at sales, I had to compensate in other areas.

Marcus Neto: Sure.

Chad Setchell: In other areas, I was giving good information. Giving good information and giving a lot of good options that were viable options that fit the situation. That helped me sell more stuff than trying to use a sales stuff, because I'm not any good at it. Actually, I'm really bad at it.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Whatever you want to call it, I mean that first purchase that somebody made from you where you thought that, "Hey, man, I might be onto something here." Do you remember that?

Chad Setchell: Yeah, absolutely. At one time I lived in St. Louis, Missouri, and I had an air conditioning business there. That market up there is so much more competitive than it is down here. It's so much more tense and so much more high friction. Everything down here is such a lower ease of doing business than it is in the north or in a big, huge city like that. Just to be able to compete in that area starting out made me extremely, extremely happy knowing ... And as soon as I sold my first air conditioner, I knew right then and there, "This is what I'm going to do."

Marcus Neto: Very cool. No, it's exciting, because I mean, oftentimes ... I remember the first website that I sold somebody. I mean, I think it was $500 and $300 of that was a tattoo that I got from David's Counterculture. They're not even in business anymore, and I'm looking to get that covered up. But, anyway. I remember that, because I was like, "Wow, I can't believe that this ..."

Chad Setchell: Exactly. "That they chose me."

Marcus Neto: "They chose me," yeah.

Chad Setchell: "And they're going to pay me money to do it," and I did that job just ... I probably was there for two days, so it only took a few hours. I was there for two days, and I did everything perfectly.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Yeah. Because you know that that's the start of something. Now if you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?

Chad Setchell: One of the biggest this, to me, is that I always had to be prepared. You always got to be prepared to put in the work. I mean, everybody hears about, "Here, I got to work. I got to work, got to work," and you got to work to make a business successful. Biggest thing you got to do in this day in age is you must have a brand. If you do not have a brand, you are just spinning your wheels.

Marcus Neto: If you don't have a brand, call BlueFish at 251-

Chad Setchell: Absolutely. That's true. Because, I mean, if you do not have a brand and you do not have something that people recognize, you're just going to be running with the rest of the pack. You can see other companies out there that have brands, and not just Hansen, but any company out there that has be viable brand. They're successful, and they're moving forward, and they're growing. Without a brand, you will not grow.

Marcus Neto: Well, there's something about ... It's not just the logo, right? We always say that the brand is the sum of someone's experience with your organizations or every touchpoint that they have with you.

Chad Setchell: Absolutely.

Marcus Neto: At the same time, there is something about the look that you put out there and the professionalism that that ... Especially in the trades.

Chad Setchell: They have to work together.

Marcus Neto: If it's just a matter of putting your name on the side other truck versus ... I mean, all of your trucks are wrapped. They're colorful. They have the same logo on them. Everything's prominently displayed on how to get in touch with you, and stuff like that. I mean, that goes a long way to letting people know, "Hey, you guys are a different cut," like you're cut from a different mold.

Chad Setchell: We just want to show people that we're professional.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Chad Setchell: I mean, I've met some of the most smartest, most wisest air conditioning men that were in business for themselves that were just in plain white vans. I mean, they could fix any air conditioner in the world, but they just had no idea on how to market themselves, or how to advertise, or doing any of that. What I try to tell everybody where we're at is, "Really, we're just a marketing company that does air conditioning to pay the bills."

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Chad Setchell: That's just really what we're trying to be.

Marcus Neto: No, I love it. I'm going to just ask you a question. I know the answer to it. Do you know who Gary Vaynerchuk is?

Chad Setchell: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Marcus Neto: Okay, you do?

Chad Setchell: Absolutely.

Marcus Neto: Okay. Because that's literally-

Chad Setchell: I watch him every single day.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. That's literally his thing that he tells people is, "You're not whatever business you think you're in. You're a marketing company or a media company, and you're just happen to be ..." Yeah. That's really awesome. Man, I'm slighting you. I wouldn't have thought that you were a follower of Gary V., but that's cool that you do.

Marcus Neto: Now what does a typical day look like for you, then?

Chad Setchell: I get up about 4:30 every morning, and I line out the day for the air conditioning. On a typical summer day, we can install anywhere between 14 and 21 air conditioners. On a typical June day, we can run anywhere between 150 and 175 service calls between Mobile, and Baldwin County, and the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. I mean, that's just every single day I get up, I lay out the plan of the day where everybody starts, the starting point, so that when everybody gets to work, they already know what they're doing. We already got it loaded up in our system. They know what they're process is going to be for the day.

Marcus Neto: Nice.

Chad Setchell: Things add on to it, but then the office picks that up from there, calls come in. But the start of the day when people get up and get ready to go, they've already got their plan in front of them.

Marcus Neto: Very cool. This is a question that sometimes throws people, but if you were to look to the business world ... and I'm talking about the larger business world, United States, world, whatever ... who's the one person from the business world that motivates you?

Chad Setchell: Probably Gary V. I mean, he's really, really wise. He comes up with some really good information that otherwise you just wouldn't hear or think of. He's got a whole different perspective about ... People always say, "Well, I want to work. I want to make money," but do they really when it comes down to it?

Marcus Neto: Right. Yeah. I was going through Facebook and a buddy of mine, Allen Branch, wrote a blog post a couple years back. It's kind of poignant now, but the title of the blog post was Let's Be Honest, You Don't Really Want It That Bad.

Chad Setchell: That's exactly it. It really all depends on how bad you want it. I mean, I'm real driven, number one, because I am a high school dropout. Number two, I'm just real driven, because I'm trying ... I'm over 50 now, so I'm looking like a retirement age, but I've just always have been real, real, real driven. So I get something, and I get focused on something, I'm heading that way. When I started 12 years ago, my whole focus was, "I'm going to be number one in Mobile-Baldwin County." Well, I'm here at number one now. So then your next whole focus is, "I'm going to stay number one."

Marcus Neto: Yeah. How long have you been in this market?

Chad Setchell: 12 years.

Marcus Neto: Okay. So it's been a while. I just hadn't run across you. Now are there any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward?

Chad Setchell: The biggest thing that I ever read was The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Chad Setchell: Awesome book.

Marcus Neto: Stephen Covey?

Chad Setchell: Yeah. Just an awesome book. It really, really ... like a lot of things just really opened my eyes, give me a lot of insight. I look at a lot of stuff on Facebook, Gary V. There's other people of there that just post stuff randomly every single day that I just listen to and look at. The biggest thing I get from Gary V. is to keep it simple. What it is that you do that generates your income? What I do that generates income is sell and repair air conditioners, so that's what our whole purpose is company-wide every single day is to sell and repair air conditioners. We add a whole bunch of stuff to it: great customer service, fair and honest, dependable, accountable. But, I mean, the whole purpose is sell and repair air conditioners. That's all we do.

Marcus Neto: Don't lose sight of that.

Chad Setchell: Exactly. That's just it. Sometimes people, especially in our organization, when they come in and you break it down to them like that, they think, "Okay. Well, that makes a whole lot more sense if I look at my whole daily scope of what I'm trying to do. It's just sell and repair air conditioners."

Marcus Neto: Yeah. What's the most important thing that you've learned about running a business?

Chad Setchell: Be honest at all times. There's not a time during the day that I can't answer my phone, and I answer my phone ... It doesn't matter who calls. It doesn't matter what time it is. I answer it. There's no one that can call me and say, "Hey, listen. You did this to me, and that wasn't right," because we just don't operate like that.

Marcus Neto: Right. I can attest to that. I can't think of a single time when I called you, and you didn't actually pick up the phone.

Chad Setchell: Absolutely not. I pick them up every single time for anybody and everybody.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. No, it's really cool. It's a good way to operate.

Chad Setchell: I got people that called me 10 years ago, and I used to go fix their air conditioners personal. They still call me. And I still answer and say, "Okay. Yeah, I'll be there," and know that I'm not the one going. But I'll take all the information, put the call in the system, and move on from there, because that's the whole purpose. Every single one of us there are there to repair and install air conditioners. That's it.

Marcus Neto: No, it's cool. Now how do you like to unwind?

Chad Setchell: I got two grandbabies. That is pretty much the whole light of my world so just spending time with them and hanging out with them just makes it even more worth it.

Marcus Neto: You like to get on the water?

Chad Setchell: Oh, yeah. We get on the water every summer. We just go hang out at the beach. I mean, just kind of try to relax. Air conditioning's a rough business. It's a 24 hour, seven day a week thing. Luckily, my wife ... Her dad was in air conditioning, so when she saw all the air conditioning I was doing, it was no big deal to her, because she was so used to it.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. She was already in it.

Chad Setchell: When we started dating, going out, boom, 8:00 at night you got to get up and go run a service call. No big deal to her. She knew all about it.

Marcus Neto: Well, she knew you were doing something. You were generating something there.

Chad Setchell: Exactly.

Marcus Neto: Now tell people where they can find out more information about you all.

Chad Setchell: We're pretty prominent on the website. We got a great website. We got great web people. You can find us anywhere on Google. Call us at 251-471-3047 at any time.

Marcus Neto: Very cool. Well, I want to thank you again for coming on my podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Chad Setchell: No. Everything's been wonderful.

Marcus Neto: Well, Chad, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It's been great talking with you.

Chad Setchell: You, too, Marcus. I appreciate it.

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