Welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview with Neil Gallagher, a resilient entrepreneur who has built thriving businesses amidst challenges. As the Owner of Sprocket Roofing and Co-founder of Brighterway Solar, Neil’s journey exemplifies the power of determination and strategic decision-making.
In this inspiring interview, Neil shares his story of overcoming setbacks, including a layoff during the Covid-19 pandemic, and finding success in the residential construction industry. With a background in finance, he utilized his skills to save his company thousands and eventually co-founded Brighterway Solar, now a multi-million dollar enterprise.
Neil discusses significant challenges his businesses faced and provides valuable insights on building a resilient team, managing personal resilience, effective communication during crises, and preparing businesses for future challenges.
Join us as we delve into the remarkable journey of Neil Gallagher, an entrepreneurial leader shaping the construction industry with his unwavering spirit and determination.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Neil Gallagher: My name is Neil Gallagher and I am the Owner of Sprocket Roofing and the Co-founder and Vice President of Brighterway Solar.
I attended college at the University of South Florida where I graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Financial Planning. After graduation, I worked for a financial services firm based in Tampa, Florida. I was laid off during Covid and unexpectedly found myself working in the residential construction industry.
I began as a quality controller for the roofing division and quickly learned the job. I was able to use my background in Finance to identify material shortfalls saving the company thousands. I grew into an FP&A role within the company and was eventually recruited as a project manager for a larger firm. It was after this firm declared bankruptcy several years later that my business partner and I started Brighterway Solar.
What began as a leap into the unknown has led to a multi-million dollar enterprise and has launched both of our careers. We rapidly grew our team along with our company. It was this growth that led me to begin Sprocket Roofing as a solution to the roofing demand that we were facing with Brighterway Solar.
What started out as a gamble has led to two successful companies and lifelong friendships.
Can you share a time when your business faced a significant challenge? How did you navigate through it?
Neil Gallagher: In the beginning, our business was in a crisis. When we started we had both just been laid off and lost our main source of income. We were able to get our business off the ground quickly and were able to recruit top talent to join our team but our business was not able to obtain lenders that would fund our deals.
Our progress came to a screeching halt from this and it almost put an end to us before we could even begin. In our industry, solar lenders fund solar systems for our customers. Without these lenders, our customer’s only options were paying cash which is completely unrealistic for most clients.
We had to act fast if we were going to make it. We began calling every lender we could setting appointments with anyone who would speak with us. Rejection after rejection we continued on until a lender finally took a chance on us. We were able to put in several deals right away, saving our company as well as our mortgages.
After our first lender, more and more began to approve us and now we have no problem finding funding solutions for our customer’s deals through any provider they choose.
How has a failure or apparent failure set you up for later success?
Neil Gallagher: When I was laid off from the financial firm I was working for I was devastated. I applied to over 130 job listings and could not find work anywhere. I had placed all my eggs in one basket and was suffering the consequences.
I ended up doing land clearing until being hired by a roofing company. I was completely out of my element and all I could think about was finding a way back to the finance industry.
If you told me then that not only would I stay in the industry but even own a roofing company of my own I would have called you crazy. The connections I made during those first few years in the construction industry set both of my businesses up for success and things could not have worked out better for my career.
I still miss the finance sector but I’m able to use the skills I acquired during my time in the finance world to help grow my own business instead of someone else’s.
How do you build a resilient team? What qualities do you look for in your team members?
Neil Gallagher: Everyone has setbacks and everyone has failures. It’s what you do with these challenges that defines who you are and what you are to become.
When we look to bring someone to the team, we ask them about a time they failed. It is those who have failed and were able to bounce back that we look to have as part of our team. Those without failures will never know their true grit.
Until you are tested in life, you don’t know how you will react. It’s by hiring those who have seen the bottom and dug themselves back out, we are able to reach the top. By bringing these people together, we are able to grow a team that can handle any challenge it may face.
How do you maintain your personal resilience during tough times?
Neil Gallagher: My life has had its fair share of trials and tribulations and I can confidently say I’ve seen the bottom.
When I go through rough patches or a seemingly insurmountable challenge presents itself, I am able to look back to where I was before and I know that no matter how bad things get, they will never be as bad as they once were.
It’s through this reflection that I know I can weather any storm and by surrounding myself with a support network at both work and at home, I can count on those around me to help me through the biggest challenges. If it had not been for this support network my life would look completely different.
What strategies do you use to manage stress and maintain focus during a crisis?
Neil Gallagher: You may not know when a crisis will present itself, but you can put safeguards and contingency plans in place that will help ease the stress that ensues.
What works for me may not work for others, it is important to figure out how you best handle stress and how to implement these methods during times of crisis.
For me, I find I think and operate best when I have a clear mind. I can usually achieve this through exercise, a long drive, or through spirituality. It took me many crises to learn what helps and what doesn’t.
Once I am able to clear my mind, I feel that I am able to better make decisions and foresee their impact and consequences. Trying to make decisions during a crisis can be challenging, but my ensuring you are of sound mind when doing so can make the difference between success and disaster.
It is also important to try and plan ahead for any crises that may present themselves through appropriate risk management. Doing so will allow you to react in a timely manner to most situations.
How do you communicate with your team during a crisis?
Neil Gallagher: During a crisis, our team’s communication does not seem to change much. We pride ourselves in open dialog and open channels of communication.
We try to handle any crisis in a smooth and calm manner. Panic and desperation don’t do much good in business, let alone in a crisis situation. By handling crises in this way, we can react to them as a united front and use our combined efforts to combat the task at hand.
It’s important to let your team know your course of action in response to the crisis at hand and ensure that each member understands their role in the response. This ensures there will be no overlap or miscommunication on an individual’s part.
By keeping our team informed, we can eliminate any unnecessary hardships and ensure an efficient response.
What advice would you give to other CEOs on building resilience in their organizations?
Neil Gallagher: To other business leaders looking to build resilience, I would say that they need to look to the members of their team and their hiring practices. By consistently recruiting from the same talent pool you are limiting your team’s lived life experiences and diversity, both significant factors in resilience.
MBA programs are a great source of business leaders, but they often pool from the same demographic. If you’re looking to recruit and retain resilient leaders and team members you need to look to applicants that may have taken a different journey to where they are today.
By opening your hiring to a more diverse background, you can build a highly resilient and driven team. These applicants can come from a variety of places such as veterans, single parents, and even formerly incarcerated. Each of these groups contains a unique perspective on life and has shown a level of resilience not commonly found in the workforce.
By opening your organization to more diverse hiring practices, you can not only increase your team’s efficiency but its perseverance as well.
How do you prepare your business for potential future crises?
Neil Gallagher: When operating our business, we try to look several steps ahead and plan for any potential issues that may result from our course of action. This can range from job site hazards to customer satisfaction and even how our business is perceived online.
By appropriate risk management and thinking through planning and operation decisions, you will be able to avoid or resolve most situations before they become crises. It all boils down to proper planning. Propper planning can be broadly applied and allows our company to avoid accidents and mishaps, ensure customer and employee satisfaction, and has the potential to save your company thousands.
Some crises may be unavoidable, but by putting contingencies and responses in place to account for any crisis that does manifest, you will save valuable time and allow your company to put out any flames that may have erupted. Our employees know who to call in a variety of situations and we provide them the autonomy to do so.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about leadership in times of crisis?
Neil Gallagher: Without your team, you’re not a leader. In times of crisis, your team will be looking to you for guidance. It’s up to you to ensure your subordinates are properly directed and ensure they have sufficient resources to react.
A crisis is not a time to play the blame game, it’s a time to take charge and solve an issue. How you handle your team as well as how you handle yourself will show your true character and determine how you are perceived by your staff.
If your staff loses confidence in your abilities, your company is in serious trouble. Its imperative to be present and visible during times of crisis, to keep your team informed, and lead from the front.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Neil Gallagher for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Neil Gallagher or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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