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Steve
07-13-2004, 05:35 PM
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Our heros have always been entrepreneurs or as we like to call them Gopher-preneurs. It takes a special kind of person to start a business, one who accepts their call to adventure. Running a business is never easy, but it does have advantages. In this article we get an inside look at a Sprinklers Etc. Their story is inspiring and just might get you to start your business.
Sprinklers Etc. was created by Dana Adoretti. This is his ninth year in business. We asked Dana what got him started in business. He explained to us “My employer at the time actually approached me about this. I was a foreman for him for 2 years when he asked me to be his repair technician. I started by business and he basically sub-contracted to me. In November 1996 I got out of the irrigation business for a few different reasons, but started back up in March of 1998. I started networking with all my contacts to get work and referrals. I was doing repairs and service, and a few new installations.”

Business
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Q. Years in business?
A. Since 1995

Q. Business motto?
A. No real motto

Q. Biggest advantage/disadvantage of being your own boss?
A. Advantage: I am the one in control of whether I succeed or fail.
Disadvantage: Long hours. But I get a lot of time off in the winter.

Q. 1yr, 5yr and 10yr goal?
A. 1yr goal: To reduce my debt. A few bad decisions and drought conditions have cost me the last 2 years
5yr goal: To become more hands off in the field and just run the company. I may be 33 but my body feels much older
10yr goal: Probably to still own and run my own business, but something completely different. Not sure what though.

Q. How many years until you made your first profit?
A. First year. No equipment to purchase makes things easy.

Q. Best decision you have ever made / worst?
A. Best: To stop installing new sprinkler systems, and focus on repair and maintenance only.
Worst:

Q. Greatest achievement so far / biggest regret?
A. Greatest achievement: Keeping my business going and being fairly successful even with all the statistics of how many businesses fail if the first few years of operation.
Biggest regret: Not getting a contract from two landscape companies before doing work. Only lost out on about $1600 which could have been worse. But the good thing is both of those companies are out of business now.

Q. Toughest obstacle so far?
A. Drought conditions and water restrictions. We are now seeing all the faults caused by poor designing of systems. And we are supposed to magically fix them.

Q. What makes your company stand out?
A. A few things.
We are now a repair and service company only. No irrigation installations. Due to our serious drought conditions, I made a choice in the spring of 2003 to make existing systems as efficient as possible to preserve our water sources.
Due to our repair niche, troubleshooting knowledge, and our quality of service, the majority of our work comes from referrals from other companies and clients. Many companies don't want to do repairs and maintenance. At last count there are 3 major wholesale suppliers, 15 competing sprinkler and landscape companies (including my former employer), 12 realtors and hundreds of existing customers that refer us.

Q. What is your favorite business book?
A. E-Myth and Who Moved My Cheese.

Q. Why do you feel most new businesses fail?
A. They don't understand how to price their product or service to make a profit or a good salary. Many don't understand the business end of running a business. A lot of people in the green industry start their own business because they get tired of making money for someone else, and think the work is easy. But the business and administration end of things is just as hard as doing the actual service you are providing.

Q. What is the most important business lesson(s) you have learned?
A. Do not cut your prices to get a job. If you have a good reputation, people will pay your price.

Q. What are your (1-10) business rules that you follow?
A. A few off the top of my head, in no particular order:
Learn about your trade extensively.
Be responsible for your actions.
Deliver what you promise.
Take care of your employees and they will take care of you.
You don't have to take every single job that comes tour way.
Make good relationships with others in your industry. It will pay off.

Q. If you could talk to someone just starting out, what advice would you give?
A. Get organized, learn the business end of running your trade.

Q. Finish this sentence: My dream is to.....?
A. Live comfortable without working myself to death. I'm not into making every dollar possible. I enjoy life and have many activities, family and friends (and two dogs) that I would rather spend time with.

Life
******************************
Q. Favorite musical artist?
A. Van Halen

Q. Do you vote, which party?
A. Yes. I'm registered Democratic, but vote more on the person and their ideas, not the party

Q. Who has influenced you the most?
A. Windy - my longtime girlfriend. Extremely intelligent and down to earth.

Q. If you could do anything right now, what would you be doing?
A. Snowboarding or fly fishing. Or playing with my dogs at the park.

Q. Do you do anything to "give back to your community?" If so, what?
A. I used to be an assistant coach for little league baseball. I love baseball and it gave me a lot growing up as a kid. I've worked on a few volunteer projects installing systems for non-profit organizations


Fun
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Q. Current pet project?
A. Fixing up my home and yard. No manicured yard, all wooded natural area. but I still want it to look decent.

Q. Dream vacation spot?
A. The Flathead Valley in northwest Montana, particularly Bigfork. Beautiful mountains, trees, rivers, fly fishing, rafting, snowboarding, and very peaceful. This has been my favorite spot that I have been to.

Q. Dream car?
A. No dream car. But I've been checking out the new 2004 Ford F-150 lately. One major thing I like is how quiet they say it is inside. I am trying to eliminate distractions from my life, and outside noise is a major one.

Our thanks and best wishes go to Dana Adoretti and his company, Sprinklers Etc. We hope this is your best year yet.


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