For the EVOLution of Business

Thriving in Business Through a Thriving Community with Ray Isaac of Isaac Heating

Episode Summary

Ray Isaac often says that only 4% of family businesses survive past the 3rd generation. Yet when he's inducted alongside his father into the Rochester Business Hall of Fame later this year, it won't be for merely surviving. Under his leadership, Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning has grown by any measure, especially in its impact on the community. Yet you might be surprised to hear that he doesn't expect employees to be passionate about Heating and Air Conditioning. In fact, that isn't his passion either. It's merely the WHAT and the HOW to achieving his WHY of creating jobs and growth opportunities for employees, while also giving back to the community. Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning was founded by Ray's grandfather in 1945, and has grown to become one of the nation’s largest privately held heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractors, servicing more than 35,000 clients a year. Ray is one of four brothers who make up the third generation of Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning and he currently serves as President and CEO. Ray is also the President of the Small Business Council of Rochester and recently served as the Campaign Chair for the United Way. He holds a BS in Management/Marketing from St John Fisher College. Ray is a proud winner of the Rochester Small Business Person of the Year in 2012 and will soon be inducted along with his father in the Rochester Business Hall of Fame.

Episode Notes

[1:15] The founding of Isaac Heating by Ray's grandfather
[2:40] How Ray's father Jim came to lead the company
[4:15] Starting to work at the family business in high school
[6:20] The difference between an "equity business" and a "lifestyle business"
[8:30] 3 Rules From Ray's Father Jim:
1 - "You get paid for what you do not who you are."
2 - "Your last name is a responsibility it's not a're not going to get respect by your last name, it's going to be something that you have to earn."
3 - "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life."
[10:30] "I don't expect someone to be passionate about heating and air conditioning to be an employee...that's not my passion and it doesn't have to be yours. You can find your passion through heating and air conditioning. It's Simon Sinek's golden circle...the WHAT and the HOW are just a means to achieving they WHY."
[13:15] Learning experiences and succession planning before Ray became CEO
[16:30] Ray's evolution from a "jerk" to a Conscious Leader and advice to others:
-Be comfortable with who you are
-Taking criticism along with the compliments
-The difference between responsibility and accountability
Read the RBJ story of Ray's early years as a leader here:
[21:55] The importance of business owners that model the passion they want to see in their employees - "I don't want applause...I want a pause."
[27:50] The process of re-articulting their vision and values
[29:30] Learning from Wegmans on putting employees before customers
[33:00] Founding Isaac University, the only accredited program held by a contractor, invested over $1M in training last year
"I always say training AND education. You train someone on what to do, you educate them on why."
"It's 12-weeks paid. We hire somebody as a student. We have almost 26 people starting as paid students, and that's more than any one of the colleges."
[37:45] The future of Isaac University with a new expansion, additional trades and a new name: I Tech
Giving hope to students to stay in school even if they don't want to go to college.
[41:40] How they "measure what matters" beyond just profits at Isaac
On philanthopy: "We decide what we're going to give before we even earn dollar number one for the year. Our charities and the initiatives we support get paid before the owners can have anything you want in life as long as you help other people get what they want and need first."
On the community: "We have a duty to support the community. We're a local business...We need to have a healthy, vibrant community to help our business be healthy and vibrant."
[47:15] "You're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, and we have a pretty good average in Rochester. We're better because of those people. Even our competitors. They keep the bar high."
[48:15] How focusing on small things can keep you from making a big impact
"It should be your goal when you hire somebody to teach them how to start their own business. It should also be your goal to show them that it isn't worth their while. We can provide them with a better living."
[51:45] Getting started on the Conscious Capitalism journey by getting involved in organizations and building relationships, being a conscious consumer by voting with your wallet for the organizations that are involved in the community
"If you want to justify charity, just rebrand it as marketing."
[55:00] Looking ahead to the future leadership of Isaac, even if they aren't named Isaac