Zac Rinehart is the founder and owner of Hydro Pro Tubs, based in Kansas City, Missouri. The company builds accessible bathtubs. Growing up on a cattle farm in Iowa was not ideal for a boy with bigger dreams than most. Zac Rinehart was teased on a daily basis for dreaming of becoming a millionaire and having a family.
His dad moved him to Kansas City, Missouri, during high school. In Kansas City, Zac rode along with his stepmother on sales calls. He would sit for hours with her studying and learning everything she did. Zac’s parents worked 24/7. He hated school, so he moved out at age 15 and lived on the streets. After overcoming his struggles, he finished school and painted and built houses. He made it through one year of college and then was bored. He knew he wanted to be like his parents and become an entrepreneur, but he also wanted a family.
Zac got married and had two beautiful children. He was a preacher and dug graves at a cemetery to pay the bills. He read hundreds of business books while he waited for the coffins to arrive for him to bury. At age 23, Zac got an offer with the same company as his parents and moved his family to Alabama. It was here that he began his sales career. He was the youngest salesman in the company and became a national sales leader his first year. He was being groomed to be a leader of the entire company, when his wife decided she didn’t share the same vision and left the kids on his front porch. Zac was an overnight full-time dad, which led to him moving back to Kansas City, Missouri, raising his kids.
He met his now fiancé in Kansas working at the same company and she took over raising his kids and hers and shared his vision of starting a company. From his experience in construction and long-term care sales, he knew he wanted to build a company in walk-in bathtubs and Hydro Pro Tubs was born. This is where Zac took the $1,000 he had to his name and risked losing his house and care to start his company. He turned that $1,000 into $1.2 million his first year.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start Hydro Pro Tubs?
I was the top salesmen in my territory for a long-term care insurance brokerage, which is the hardest financial product to sell. I was one of the top producers and sat in people’s kitchens, selling them long-term care policies that would enable them to age with dignity and a way to pay for care. I won all the trips as a top producer to Hawaii, Italy, etc. and began to see the opportunity ahead of me.
I was quickly promoted and given a manager opportunity to lead in one of the worst selling territories in New Orleans. It was here that I found my calling and my leadership skills developed. I would travel to interview, motivate, and hire hundreds of salesmen and I grew my territory faster than anyone had ever grown in the company and at the youngest age of anyone in the company. I loved motivating people to find their inner strength and feel empowered. These were 100% commission sales jobs and I was able to take teachers and retail sales employees with no experience to become sales experts and make more money than they ever had in their lives.
The long-term care industry boom became overshadowed by other financial products and my company was acquisitioned by another big industry leader. I knew I needed to move on to other industries to build the empire I had always dreamed of creating. I got a job as a salesman at Kansas City’s top home remodeling company. Again, I immediately became one of the top salesmen and won a trip to Hawaii. I told the owner of the company I would only be there for a year as a temporary money-making job.
I was designing kitchens and bathrooms for families in the area and using my skill sets I went to college for in architecture. It was here at this company that I met my business partner and we began to talk about starting an accessible bathtub company. It was the perfect mix of helping people stay at home when they needed (as I did when selling long-term care insurance) and now in the remodeling industry. My passion for leadership and the right product came to life and this is where Hydro Pro Tubs was started.
How do you make money?
I did not pay myself for months on end several times in my first three to four years. I sacrificed losing a house, a car, and a family to risk starting Hydro Pro Tubs. There were several times throughout that my family surely wanted me to go back to a job offering a weekly secure paycheck, but we all knew the first couple of years would be full of risk and trial and error.
We make money now by selling bath tubs and making our customers happy and able to stay at home to age in dignity. My job is to streamline the business and find ways to save money on expenses, vendors, and the workforce while maintaining the highest quality of product and staff. We don’t make money unless we take care of our customers and for that we are lucky to have an amazing office staff that focuses on service calls for current clients.
The secret to making money for our sales force is my secret sauce in inspiring my sales staff to have passion for what they are selling to our clients and believing each day that what they are doing is making people happy and changing their ability to bathe and stay in their own homes.
Many times, I tell my sales crew personal stories of caregiving for my grandmother and my fiancé’s grandfather, who both needed care. This personal experience gave me the passion to help people age with grace and dignity. This passion is the only way to sell a product like a walk-in bath tub. You can sell a widget to anyone, but if your sales team has passion and loves what they are doing, then sales become easy. This is where my leadership differs from many other sales leaders. Most of my weekly sales calls are about passion or my personal stories and I share videos and stories to inspire others, even if they have not had a caregiving experience.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
I took the company from $1,000 to $1.2 million the first year. I’m sure this sounds amazing to most consumers and employees, but the truth is that I was broke my first years off and on making sure my staff and customers were paid first and taken care of before I was able to pay myself.
I was able to grow fast enough to build a sales process that is modeled after GE (General Electric) of which is legendary in strategies and builds on listening to the client’s needs. Finding the client’s pain points and listening to their personal struggles is key. Most salesmen are there to sell and push a product and read a script. In this business of selling walk-in bath tubs to senior citizens, you can’t be profitable without listening to each and every client’s individual story of pain and needs. Once it’s understood what the customer’s needs are individually, a plan is set in place to give them a product that most never even knew they could afford or even was available.
Another key to becoming profitable was the long process of hiring the right staff, as in the beginning it was not easy sifting out office staff, salesmen, installers, and vendors. It takes a long time to create a culture of a company. It took a solid four years and a buyout of my business partner to create the culture of a national company that I had always envisioned. I was kept from building what I wanted for the first four years, but, soon after the buyout, I was able to put into place the culture and strategies I had always dreamed of creating. My team was empowered and people started listening and following me more than they had before, because my style of leadership was that of passion and guidance instead of force and fear. People will follow a true leader when they are comfortable and feel safe. This is what sets me apart from other leaders. People want to be around me and want to trust and follow me.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Every day you wake up to failure and doubt… that does not go away. You go to bed with it and wake up with it and keep finding solutions to those problems. To me, it doesn’t matter if I’m successful or not, these feelings are with me every day to perfect my business. There is always another challenge.
Even in my personal life, I doubted myself from day one as friends and family told me that I would never succeed. In the last seven years, however, my fiancé has stated several times about how amazing it was to watch me grow in belief, confidence, and maturity in business and in personal relationships. My personal relationships began to become deeper and a more important part of my family and life.
How did you get your first customer?
Our first customer was from a cold call list, we wrote a script, set an appointment, and went to his home and sold our first bath tub. This is what sales is all about…building a process. We found the need and provided the customer with a solution (bathtub) so he could stay in his home safely.
But, when I knew I was on to something, I was on my second appointment when it was my fiancé’s father’s house. He was a retired marine who was battling stage 4 cancer. He was the strongest man I knew and also most gentle and caring family man. He was always so kind to me and my family. He asked me one day to see if a tub would help with his pain. This is when I knew it was my turn to give back to him and help him with his pain. We had a couple mistakes with installation, of course, as it was our second install and I was freaking out, wanting so badly to make this perfect for him. We fixed the problem right away and he got to enjoy his last couple of years with dignity.
This is why I am able to sleep at night, knowing that I helped my family and am helping many more families around the country.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
The secret sauce really lays in the culture and processes not so much our marketing strategy. We are pretty basic and thorough on our marketing strategy. Without giving out our secrets, we get most of our customers online from people who are looking for our product.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
The toughest decision I have ever made in this company was last month when I made the offer to buy out my business partner. We built this company from nothing together in my kitchen, but in our fourth year, it was clear that we both had different visions for Hydro Pro Tubs.
I have been bred since my first sales career to learn to build and run and national sales company. My business partner wanted to stay small and local, whereas, my dream is to build on what I learnt in long-term care insurance and build a national sales force.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
The ability to take a risk and make fast decisions is the key to success and fast growth. With this in mind, you also need a mix of company culture, passion, and a work flow that is effective. My ability to streamline processes, flows, and automate systems is what makes fast growth successful. Maybe having a tough childhood and early adult life with all its challenges gave me the ability to face failure and risk with ease. I don’t get hurt or take failure as a scary event, I pick myself up quickly to come up with a strategy to face any conflict or problem. I am able to think outside the box quickly and create an equation, usually a math equation, (since I am a math genius), to solve and save the day. I wake up each day to problems and my job is to conquer with confidence as a fearless leader.
At a young age, I quickly developed thick skin and many scars on my body and soul. I am an amazing story teller and without my past I may not have been pushed to the extreme to be driven to prove to people that I was not a failure or a carnival freak as my brother made me feel I was. Sometimes bullies can make and build your inner soul and power. I used this inner motivation and faith to seek a kind of revenge on all whom told me that I would be a failure. It’s not revenge that drives me, but the challenge and to make things work. I look at life and work like a mathematical equation that I am addicted to solving and I won’t settle down until the math problem is solved.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The most satisfying moment in business was when I became right. What I mean by being right is that people stopped questioning me and started listening and following me. Building respect in a start up company can be hard in trial and error and mistakes are prevalent, but success kept coming. People don’t question me anymore and when a task is given. I have automated most of the business to avoid human error.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future looks extremely promising now that I have implemented my processes for: sales, structure, recruitment, and leadership. When I bought out my business partner, I soon realized how much I had been holding back trying to compromise with strategies, ideas, and skill sets of my business partner. Once I had complete control after the buyout, it became exciting to see my dream fulfilled. With my leadership in place, recruitment, sales, and company culture fit into place the way I wanted it. Success soon followed faster than growth had before in the company.
It was a bit overwhelming in the beginning taking over processes that had been allocated to my business partner, but within the first few months, I stepped back and dug deep into the company to see what was missing. I brought my three key office employees into my living room and set up an office after we left the 5,000 square foot office in Grandview, Missouri. This experience was perhaps what rebuilt the company and gave me light to what was missing and stopping growth. Sitting at a table with my three employees each day in my home answering questions every minute and reshaping the company was stressful, but also necessary. It will go down in the memory books at another step that enabled my team to get to the penthouse suite.
What business books have inspired you?
“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill inspired me when I was younger, as it was my first business book that I read. I realized I didn’t need a fancy degree to do something positive and you could decide to choose your part in life in faith by hard work and skill. “Talent is Never Enough” by John Maxwell was another inspirational book to each outside of himself and discover the talents in others to make up for his weaknesses.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
The most recent purchase of uniform polos for the installers of Hydro Pro Tubs and sales reps helped the brand management and level of professionalism. In the construction business, it can be scary for customers who have salesmen and installers walking into their homes in unbranded street clothes. When a stranger is standing at your doorstep in construction gear or dressed like a salesman with a briefcase, it can be overwhelming.
Hydro Pro Tubs wants to provide the best safety and level of professionalism to each and every customer and give them a sense of comfort and respect. Hydro Pro Tubs does not allow any workers to show up with old tools or a damaged truck. It is important that all our staff be professional and reputable in skill sets and customer care.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
Solving problems is what I think about 24/7. There is not a minute in my day when I am not daydreaming of how to make things work more efficiently. Solving problems is more innate for me, as I am a natural leader and have a capacity for organization and solving problems. What really makes me feel accomplished and proud is when my leadership skills are implemented and when my team can think for themselves and take off with their own skill sets and belief system in the company. I rock Hydro Pro Tubs sales calls with inspiration and put on the recognition to my sales people on calls and within the company. This is my family and I take care of my crew and customers like family.