As I reflect back during the 25th anniversary of LAN-TEL Communications, I remember the fear I felt as I struggled to find a job to support my very young family, and the feeling of helplessness in not being able to control my uncertain future. It was at this point I decided that I would start my own company with the support of friends and family. I opened my company in the basement of my home with very little business management familiarity, armed only with a high school education and several years of “Ma Bell” experience under my belt. It started out slowly, but as word got around about the quality of work performed by my company, more and more jobs started to roll in. After a year of steady growth, fear and self-doubt increased because I was now responsible not only for my family, but also for my workers and their families. Furthermore, the economy had just suffered a downturn, and with my lack of business experience, I questioned my ability to survive.
While speaking to a business associate about my dilemma, he suggested I join the CEO Club of Boston – a local group of large and small company owners, as well as other business professionals. I remember attending my first meeting and thinking, “What am I doing here?” I felt out of place and intimidated. After the next few meetings, I realized that most of the members had problems similar to mine, and their ideas made a lot of sense. I started to gain confidence and even contributed my opinions and ideas, which were well received. I value my time in the CEO Club, and owe the members a debt of gratitude in giving me the confidence I needed to successfully run an expanding company.
As the years passed, the company kept growing and I realized I would have to better educate myself in the industry as contracts and negotiations became more complex. At this point I joined the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) - a great resource for mastering the partnership with unions, as well as learning the electrical side of our industry. Through the camaraderie of the NECA members – who, like me, were business owners - I learned a lot of tricks of the trade that helped me grow the company and hire the people who believed in my mission to move the company forward. Serving as the association’s past president and current governor has also enhanced my personal business skills.
Having learned so much from my involvement with these associations, I still found myself lacking in critical aspects of management, such as the fundamentals of successful bidding and human resources. After chatting with my insurance agent, he suggested I join the Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts (ASM), a perfect fit for what I was seeking out. ASM has been an ideal resource for all aspects of running a successful business, and I have forged some great friendships. I was so impressed with this organization’s beliefs and values that I committed to increasing my involvement by becoming its current president, a position I cherish deeply.
In retrospect, had it not been for associations such as the CEO Club of Boston, NECA and ASM, I would have been a very small fish in a very big ocean, probably working for someone else. I owe my success to these associations and I cannot stress how important they were to making me who I am today. Grasp the opportunity and take advantage of all they have to offer.
Joseph Bodio is the president of the Associated Subcontractors of Mass., Boston and is president and CEO of LAN-TEL Communications, Norwood, Mass.