As described last week in Part One (check it out here), SpeedPro Imaging’s new Chief Executive Officer, Larry Oberly, recently sat down with us for a personal interview describing his vision for SpeedPro’s future and what he will do to take the nation’s leading printing and graphics franchise to unprecedented heights.
In Part One, Oberly told us about his 25 years of experience as a franchisor and franchisee and why he believes the SpeedPro franchise system is ready for rapid and sustainable growth. In Part Two (this post), Oberly digs deeper into the reasons he’s excited to join the SpeedPro family and gives us a sneak peek into his personal life…including how he got into marathons and where he got his competitive spirit.
What inspired you to join SpeedPro? Take us through the process – from first learning about the potential opportunity to now being CEO.
I was looking for a creative industry that would be at the forefront of the digital future. And that’s exactly where SpeedPro Imaging is. Whether it’s mobile billboards and fleet wraps to exterior signage and customized interiors, we’re in a business that has an immediate visual effect.
I also enjoyed my discussions with Fairfield Maxwell, the New York-based firm that owns the majority share of SpeedPro Imaging. They believe in the business and are invested for the long term, and I feel confident working under their guidance. Their culture is the culture that’s been built within the team at SpeedPro; it’s been a perfect fit for me.
What will you do to strengthen relationships with each of your franchisees and elevate the support they receive from you in the corporate office?
It’s going to be a multi-step process. Some of the steps are very clearly identifiable right now and are already in motion. Others are in the early conceptual stages, but the overarching answer really boils down to what I’ve learned over the years.
Firstly, I really believe in getting to know my franchisees. In a sense, they’re my customers, but they’re also my partners. We’re working together to serve our clients to the best of our abilities. I always believe the most ingenious takeaways within an entrepreneurial model are those we learn from high engagement with franchisees. I prefer to sit down with our owners and look at initiatives, examine how the market is changing and look at what the future holds. We can’t do that in a vacuum; we can only do that with the franchisee’s engagement. I like to say, “There’s nothing that can’t be solved with ten SpeedPro(fessionals) in the same room.”
The engagement is going to be much deeper from the strategic side. Franchisees are going to be part of the Home Office’s (corporate) strategic planning process. Integrated feedback from our franchisees will help us set direction and avoid ineffective initiatives. I want to be sure we, the Home Office and franchisees, each view in the business the same way and see the same opportunities. The best part is that franchisees always have great ideas that the Home Office may not have considered or some market niches that we can pilot through their initiative. In a nutshell, it really boils down to getting to know our franchisees personally and getting them engaged from a strategic point of view.
Why is now the perfect time to buy in as a SpeedPro Imaging Franchise Owner?
It’s an exciting time to be part of the revitalization of SpeedPro. We’re stepping back to reevaluate processes and realign strategies with our seven corporate values: Franchisees First, Integrity, Fearless Leadership, Focus, Drive, Respect, and Fun. We’re setting healthy, time-bound goals and eliminating distractions. And most importantly, we’re reenergizing and refocusing on the future of Speedpro. Those joining now will be entering a newly aggressive, more strategic business built on fresh ideas and proven practices. They’ll be entering a new era of SpeedPro.
What type of skills do you need to see in potential studio owners that will make them a good fit with SpeedPro Imaging?
Ideal SpeedPro franchisee owners are entrepreneurs through and through. Whether a person is coming out of the corporate world or is a recent graduate, they need to have fire in their belly to build their investment into a great success. We’re not in the process of finding managers; we want creative leaders – people who can roll up their sleeves, go out and get new customers by being consultative and providing successful marketing solutions.
We also want to help businesses thrive. It’s a tough labor market in most places around the country. With unemployment down, wages have certainly gone up – driven not only by the labor shortage, but also by minimum wage increases. One of the most important things we can do is put an extra emphasis on teaching our studio owners to be successful team builders – and identifying those with the natural talent to do so.
Let’s get to know you outside of the office. Tell us about your family.
I’m married to JoLinda and we have a 15-year-old son, Andrew. Jo is an entrepreneur who owns and operates a medical training company that primarily does certification training for doctors and nurses. Her business is completely B2B and driven by repeats and referrals; she doesn’t have a website, nor does she need one. Andrew is heading into new-driver territory. He recently started his first part-time job in food service and is enjoying it very much. His new experience reminds me of my Baskin-Robbins days. The three of us love sitting around the dinner table discussing each of our work challenges and acting as a thoughtful sounding board for each other.
How do you enjoy Denver?
Denver is everything my family and I could ask for in a home. I was relocated here while working for RE/MAX, and soon after I met Jo. She, Andrew and I all love this city – and really, the entire state of Colorado. The four seasons and amazing natural landscapes feed my passions for running and being active outdoors, and watching the sun set behind the mountains never gets old. On top of Denver’s sublime features, the city is experiencing an economic boom that is bringing more people here than ever before. As great as Denver is today, I know it’s only going to get better.
You’ve said that you’re big into marathons. How did you get into running?
I had a buddy at RE/MAX who was into triathlons and marathons. He would always ask if I wanted to join him. About 11 years ago, I eventually took him up on that offer and I’ve loved running ever since. My competitive streak kicked in during my first marathon in Big Sur, California, when I missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon by 11 minutes. After that, I qualified for the Boston Marathon four times out of my seven full marathons.
Racing exhilarates me. It’s in my spirit. I’ve always prided myself on being in the top 15 percent of my age group. I appreciate not just the physical fitness, but the excitement and competition that come with crossing a finish line.
From whom or what did you get that competitive spirit?
My dad wasn’t big into sports, but he was an incredibly hard worker. Working two to three jobs at a time, he never had time to be in that competitive type of environment. He built two barns by hand, doing the design work and driving in every nail (I got to hold the ladder most days). He certainly gave me a “head down, get it done” work ethic. It’s that mentality that fuels me.
I’ve always liked to keep score, which I enjoy doing in business by examining the bottom or top lines or market share. I do many things just for the fun of it, but I also like to play to win. My natural motivation probably starts with that work ethic my father instilled. I think if you’re going to go for something, you should give it all you’ve got.
I’m excited about the future of SpeedPro. It’s already a great company that franchisees, the Home Office and I will collectively make one of the best franchise companies and places to work. No shortcuts – creativity, innovation, engagement and hard work will make the difference.
To keep reading about SpeedPro Imaging and our industry-leading printing and graphics solutions, please visit speedpro.com.