Darrell MacLean - President, Southern Middlesex Industries, Inc.

Darrell MacLean is the president of SMI or Southern Middlesex Industries, Inc., which is the leading environmental and demolition service within the industry.  The experienced and professional team at SMI specializes in general contracting, lead abatement, abatement of asbestos, demolition of buildings, mold remediation, PCB remediation, hazmat waste removal and selective interior demolition.

Darrell MacLean is also a renowned philanthropist.  Along with his company, MacLean makes yearly contributions to help in supporting struggling families.  In addition, MacLean provides support to schools, fire stations and the police force in Norwood, Massachusetts, which is his hometown. Outside of these, MacLean has organized cleaning crews to assist in reducing litter and creating an overall cleaner environment for Norwood residents to enjoy.

How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?

My father worked as a heavy equipment operator in the demolition industry and I became interested in his work at a young age. Even as a young kid, I knew I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps. It was this initial contact with the industry that led to my passion for the work and my success with Southern Middlesex Industries.

How do you make money?

We make money by bidding on projects all throughout New England, creating estimates for each project and adding a profit.  Our success is largely due to the level of excellence we deliver, which often surpasses the expectation of our customers.

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

It took us two years of working hard, proving ourselves and growing the business before we finally became a profitable venture.  This was greatly assisted by our satisfied customers spreading the word about our level of professionalism and effectiveness.

When you were just starting out, was there ever a time you harbored doubt about it working? If so, how was that handled?

I never started out with any doubts.  This was because I was confident that we had a plan that was well thought out and we just kept executing it in a way that satisfied our customers and helped to grow our business.

How did you get your first customer?

We actually had our first customer before we had an official start.   Over the years, our reputation for excellence has helped to grow our customer base, which has ultimately help with the success we have today.

Other than referrals, what is one marketing strategy that is being used that really works well to produce new business?

We focus on the importance of insurance and a higher level of safety that has exceeded our competition.  We also add new services periodically, which make us more attractive to customers.

What is the hardest decision you have had to make over the last few months?

We had an employee who was with us for a very long time and he fell into personal troubles that affected the project and the safety of other employees.  For a while, we offered a number of different solutions and full support.  However, he declined to take advantage of the help that was being offered to him; as such, I had to make the tough decision for him to leave our employment.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

I have never lost touch with what made us successful in the first place.  For example, I ensured I have a presence on the projects, interact with our employees and customers and always look for ways to make improvements.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

My most satisfying moments do not come from making a great profit on a project or landing a major bid.  I have been told, quite a few times, by both customers and employees that we just do things differently.  We do our best to raise the bar where customer service and professionalism are concerned.  Therefore, when this is acknowledged by our customers and employees, it makes our hard work much more satisfying.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

Well, this year is our biggest year in the history of our company and we continue to take on larger and more complex projects.  This has allowed for greater challenges and greater rewards.  I am very excited about our growth and our level of operation and professionalism, which I do not believe our competitors can offer.

What business books have inspired you?

There are a number of great books from which I have gained knowledge and inspiration.  They include The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, PhD and Spencer Johnson, MD.  There are also biographies from Steve Jobs and John Francis “Jack” Welch Jr. that have been inspirational.  They all have a common theme, which is basically to inspire confidence, hold employees accountable and provide them with room to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.

What is a recent purchase you have made that has helped with your business?

We are constantly purchasing new equipment and there is no one piece that I currently have in mind.  However, we keep abreast of the latest technology and update the equipment we use on a regular basis.  This will ensure that we are always providing the best possible service to our customers.  Additionally, regular updating and continuously training our employees help to keep us ahead of the competition.

What is your main mission in life?

My main goal in life is to make sure that I provide my wife, my children, my employees, my customers and myself with optimal happiness and satisfaction.  In addition, I endeavor to make the world a better place by making charitable contributions to individuals and communities that need my help in making things better.  I have a passion for philanthropy and get great satisfaction from involving myself, my family and my company in these endeavors.

I do not have a problem with making mistakes; however, I do not ever want to live my life with regrets from the failure of not, at least, making an attempt to complete a particular task.

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