Passing the baton. Handing over the keys. Letting go of the reins. No matter how you phrase it, Kevin Rogers says the time has come for him to move on to a different chapter of his life, one that includes lots of travel and grandkids.
He’s spent the last three decades building a thriving business focused on customer service, quality and family. Rogers started Rogers Electric in 1987, and it didn’t take long for it to grow into what it is today – a well-known and well-respected company with 13 employees.
One of those employees is Craig Simon, who’s worked there for 14 years. In January, he’ll go from being Rogers’ right-hand man to being the owner. Simon and his wife Michelle are buying the business.
“I didn’t originally start working here with the intent to take over. I came here to learn and to help,” explains Simon.
“He started digging in and doing the work,” says Rogers. “It didn’t take him long to catch on.”
“I’m glad I did it,” Simon says with a smile. “I like getting out talking to people every day. I like being able to be in an office atmosphere a little, but not tied to a desk. I get to go to multiple homes a day and see the different personalities of the people I meet.”
Rogers agrees that it’s the people who make the difference. He believes in doing the right thing, being fair, working hard and going the extra mile. The foundation of his success has been built on relationships.
“We know that if you treat people right, everything will fall into place,” Rogers says of the attention he gives to both customers and employees. “We’ve never had to do much advertising. It’s more word of mouth. We get calls probably ten times a week from potential customers saying, ‘I got your name from so and so.’ Most of our business – I’d say as much as 80 percent – comes from referrals.”
Simon intends to maintain that philosophy when he takes over after the first of the year. He’s come to understand the business inside and out, spending the first ten years in the field before moving into the front office. Right now, he does all the scheduling, routes the electricians to their jobs and does the estimates.
Rogers Electric has certainly grown over the years – covering an area that stretches south to Bluffton, north to the Michigan line, east into Ohio and west to Warsaw – but has never strayed far from the principles on which it was built. That won’t change.
“We want to keep it small. I like to see things going the way they are. We see it as another journey that’s been put in our path and we’re gonna take a leap of faith,” Simon says of his and Michelle’s decision to buy the business. “We have no intentions to really change much of anything. We couldn’t have done this without our employees and their years of dedicated service.”
The name will also stay the same. Simon and Rogers say there’s no reason to fix what isn’t broken.
“As long as there’s a good reputation, you want to keep the name, keep the phone number, etc.,” Simon says. “And we have that.”
“What sets us apart? Our service,” says Rogers emphatically. “Punctuality. It drives me nuts when you set up an appointment and people don’t show up that day. I tell the guys if they’re gonna be 10 minutes late then they need to make a phone call. They clean up after themselves. On new construction – whether it’s a $100,000 home or a $2 million home – it’s someone’s dream and you have to look at them the same way.”
Rogers says his own dreams could never have become a reality without his wife of 20 years, Cheryl. And though this transition will be bittersweet, he’s really not all that sad.
“Cheryl was concerned about that. 31 years. That’s a long time, but I’m ready. And I know Craig’s gonna do well with it. If I closed the doors and sold everything, I’d be sad. But this is just another chapter in life. We have 11 grandkids, spread out all over the country and even in Germany, where my son-in-law is stationed. I want to retire so I can travel and see grandkids,” Rogers says.
As for the future, Simon will continue to set the high standards put in place years ago by Rogers.
“I don’t want to get too big where we become loose cannons and lose the quality of our work. Communication is one of our strengths. We will return phone calls. We’ll focus on good communication and quality,” Simon stresses.