The Sprecher File Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2009

Born: New Albany, Ind.

Education: Bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison; MBA from Pepperdine University

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I think I actually saw it in the back of Forbes magazine when I was a kid, and I’m paraphrasing it — I don’t think when you run a business you should waste any energy trying to swim against the current. You should recognize that you’re in a stream, that the current is taking you somewhere, and you’ll waste an awful lot of energy trying to swim against that current.

So what you should do is try to swim to the left and right to avoid the rocks but recognize that the current is already taking you somewhere.

The important thing in starting a business I learned is at some point, you have to just jump into the stream. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and think about wanting to be part of that, but at some point, you take the plunge, jump in the stream, recognize it’s going to take you somewhere, and do your best to navigate to the left and to the right, and that’s what running a business is to me. The company’s done very well by recognizing that there’s a number of trends going on that we didn’t create, but we’re paddling left and right to make sure we’re staying in the fast moving part of the stream and avoiding the rocks.

What was your first job?

I had a paper route, and then I went to work at a car dealership washing cars when I was in high school, and when I was in college, I became a surveyor. When I graduated from college, I took a job with a company called TRANE, the air conditioning company.

They were looking for some young graduates to start new sales offices in cities where they hadn’t had a presence, and I took that job because they promised me I could go out and open up a new office for them. Even as a graduate I’d always sort of wanted to do my own thing.

What’s your favorite board game and why?

I don’t play any board games. I don’t gamble either. I feel like business is a gamble, and it’s not a vacation for me to gamble. It’s not a vacation for me to play board games or card games.