Million Dollar Monday

The Power of Relationships with Fred Albrecht

May 03, 2021 Greg Muzzillo
Million Dollar Monday
The Power of Relationships with Fred Albrecht
Chapters
1:26
All About Fred Albrecht
2:46
Strong Work Ethic
5:07
Your Scoreboard Looks Terrible
8:45
Building the Business from Scratch
12:36
Never Complacent
16:53
Surround Yourself with Successful People
18:35
Finding Balance
22:39
Big Dreams
Million Dollar Monday
The Power of Relationships with Fred Albrecht
May 03, 2021
Greg Muzzillo

Fred Albrecht is an accomplished business owner, mentor and coach, who together with his wife, Suzette, built a $40 million business in the promotional products and print industry, Proforma Albrecht & Co. “Relationships matter more than anything,” Albrecht tells Million Dollar Monday host Greg Muzzillo. “It’s all about building a company one great person at a time.”

Chapter Summaries

  • 01:26 - All About Fred Albrecht
  • 02:46 - Strong Work Ethic
  • 05:07 - Your Scoreboard Looks Terrible
  • 08:45 - Building the Business from Scratch
  • 12:36 - Never Complacent
  • 16:53 - Surround Yourself with Successful People
  • 18:35 - Finding Balance
  • 22:39 - Big Dreams

Resource Links

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Fred Albrecht is an accomplished business owner, mentor and coach, who together with his wife, Suzette, built a $40 million business in the promotional products and print industry, Proforma Albrecht & Co. “Relationships matter more than anything,” Albrecht tells Million Dollar Monday host Greg Muzzillo. “It’s all about building a company one great person at a time.”

Chapter Summaries

  • 01:26 - All About Fred Albrecht
  • 02:46 - Strong Work Ethic
  • 05:07 - Your Scoreboard Looks Terrible
  • 08:45 - Building the Business from Scratch
  • 12:36 - Never Complacent
  • 16:53 - Surround Yourself with Successful People
  • 18:35 - Finding Balance
  • 22:39 - Big Dreams

Resource Links

If you enjoyed this episode, click here to watch/listen to more from Million Dollar Monday.
Subscribe and receive updates when new episodes are available.

>>>>>   Follow us on YouTube   <<<<<

Fred Albrecht:

And then the word got out that we were back in business and slowly built the business one great person at a time. So when I look back now, I'm like, was I crazy? Or was I stupid? You know what I mean? You , just, you know, you don't know what you don't know. I never ever see, I never see failure. You know what I mean? So I don't even think about that. I don't even think in those terms, not to say along the way there aren't challenges and all along the way, I probably could have done things a little bit different or a little better this way or that way, or what have you. But certainly it's not in my DNA to think about what if I just do it.

Greg Muzzillo:

Hello and welcome to Million Dollar Monday. I'm your host, Greg Muzzillo bringing you real successful people with real useful advice for people with big dreams. I understand big dreams. I turned an investment of $200 and a lot of great advice from some really successful people into my big dream Proforma. That today is a half billion dollar company. I'm excited to introduce our guest today. Fred Albrecht, Fred and I have been friends for almost 20 years. And we have a great deal in common, including the facts that we both mowed lawns. When we were younger, trying to make some money, we both have the same make and model of boat. We both have a great love for the printing and promotional products industry. And we both married women who are far smarter, better looking than us as you will soon learn Fred and his $40 million business has been partnered with Proforma for a long time. I want you to know that most of my guests will not be even from our industry much less than with Proforma. However, there are special people in our Proforma family who are real successful people with real valuable advice. Fred is definitely one of those very special people. He is an amazing business person, a committed coach to his large sales team, and organization, a sought after advisor and mentor a great family man and a friend to all who know him. Fred Albrecht, thank you for joining me for Million Dollar Monday.

Fred Albrecht:

Greg, thanks for having me. And certainly I'm honored and proud to be part of this.

Greg Muzzillo:

Let's get to work. Let's start at the beginning. Fred, tell us a little bit about your youth about growing up. And most importantly, since this is all about helping provide advice to people with big dreams when you were younger and growing up, what were some big dreams, if you can recall them.

Fred Albrecht:

So, you know, I think like any other kid, your big dreams are, what are you going to have for dinner tomorrow night? I mean, you don't really think much beyond that, but you know, I just, I had a great youth. I had fun in my youth and I never really, I was never one of those people who said , I can't wait for high school to be over. I can't wait for this to be over, I was always living in the moment, but always thinking in the future. So I think that , um, I worked very hard. I learned that from my dad, my dad worked, he was a fireman for Skokie fire department. He worked multiple other jobs pretty well worked seven days a week. And my mother worked as well. And so seeing that show me what I had to do to, for me to go out and buy things. They didn't buy me things. I had to go out and buy it. I didn't get my allowance was nothing like, literally they'd say, well, you got to cut the grass because you live here. You got to take out the trash because you live here. So life's lessons were taught by my parents taught me if I wanted something that I had to go work for. And I think that's probably what, right from the beginning, what really got me thinking in terms of like an entrepreneur would think. And so how did I do that? I created a lawn business, literally went around, knocking on doors, said, Hey, would you like me to cut your grass for you every week. And pretty soon I had 80 lawns a week to cut. I got a second job working on a garbage truck. You want, you want hard work, work on the backend of one of those garbage trucks for 4 years. Um, it helped me do two things. You know, certainly I played football in high school and sports, sports, teach you more about teamwork, coaching than anything else. As far as I'm concerned from my life. I think it was probably my coaches , that also instilled the value of hard work. Because if you work hard, you get to play. I mean, that was my motivation back then. So you say, what was that motivated by? I was motivated by success and motivation t hat I enjoyed playing. And I wanted to be the gu y o n the field, not on th e b ench.

Greg Muzzillo:

All right. So take us from you, graduated from college. What was your first job after you graduated from college? And then tell us how you meandered sort of into this industry?

Fred Albrecht:

So I married into a very tough German family and , I was never good enough, you know, so I always had to prove myself. And so I went out and got a job , selling recreational materials, things that go inside like a gymnasium or a sports complex, scoreboards, wrestling, mats, things like that. I learned very quickly It's easy to sell a scoreboard to a school. You walk in and say, Oh, your scoreboard looks terrible. Well, yeah, we have no money. Well, do you pour Coke or do you pour Pepsi? And they say, well, one would say Coke. You say, well, guess what? Pepsi will buy you a new scoreboard if you pour Pepsi. So I'm figuring out how to sell advertising and scoreboards , through that. And so really by, I guess, demonstrating my ability to go out and sell, but also my tenacity, because I literally would just get in the car in the morning and make cold calls on schools. I'd look them up. I didn't know the area. I was new to Cincinnati. I didn't know any of these people. I didn't know any of the schools I had just, I had no rolodex , zero rolodex as a salesperson. And I'm like, well, I can go out and make calls on schools. I'll find them YMCAs, places like that. And you start going in and asking for athletic directors . Of course I could talk the talk because I, you know, I was in sports all my life. So it was pretty easy as far as once I got in , but , you know, so I sold everything you could think of. So my tough to please , father-in-law kind of saw what I was doing every day I had dinner with them practically and they would say, Hey, what did you do today ? And I tell him , I made 40 calls today. My car, here's where I went. And here's what I sold. And pretty soon as we were talking, they had challenges with hiring good people. So eventually I was able to say, Oh , you know, work my way into that family business, which was a 105 year old company in the industry at the time they were doing about $6 million. When some of the larger companies , about the same age were doing 40, $50 million . So I learned the business from the ground up. I became what they call the sales correspondent. So by doing that, I kind of grew with the company and started to figure out what other people were doing. You'd recruit people and you talk to t hem on the phone and t hey s ay, well, here's what we do over here. Here's what we do over there. Y ou k now, all my competitors, what are they doing? So pretty soon we started implementing programs and, you know, God, we upgraded our phone system. We upgraded our computer system pretty soon. You're building a business. And , Soon, I was recognized to the point where I became the president and the CEO and we built that business with that $6 million to close to $50 million before I left. Well, life gets in the way. And you know , I guess I went by the wayside as far as I became an Outlaws of an in-law . And so it was time to start over. So back in 1999, I'm sitting at my desk and decided just to make a change. And at first I thought, well , I'll go by Marina. I always wanted to own a Marina, but you know what, when you get to this business, it gets in your blood. And it's what I know. So I said, okay, I'm going to go back into this business and start from scratch. And literally , my girlfriend at the time, my wife now, and I sat down and said, Hey, let's build a promotional products business. And we built it from scratch. Literally, no salespeople, no sales. We hired , three customer service people that we , we did it all as far as the five of us did everything we could. And then the word got out that we were back in business and slowly built the business one great person at a time. So when I look back now, I'm like, was that crazy? or was I stupid ? You know what I mean? just, you know, you don't know what you don't know. I never ever see, I never see failure. You know what I mean? So I don't even think about that. I don't e ven think in those terms, not to say along the way there aren't challenges and all along the way, I probably co uld h a ve d one things a little bit different or a little better this way or that way, or what have you. But certainly it's not in my DNA to think about what if I just do it.

Greg Muzzillo:

I agree with you, Fred, you know, failure is just never an option and it's better off just not even thinking about it and letting it come to the top of our minds. So you and Susie, who we all love at Proforma also sit at t he kitchen table, coming up with this idea. And, and the word got out. What does that mean, Fred? How, how did the word j ust get out? And people started coming

Fred Albrecht:

By word of mouth, by talking to relationships that I had in the past. But even my ex in-laws went out and put the word out for me. Literally, they told suppliers, they told s alespeople and then people started calling me. So that was a start. You know, that's just a minor start. Like y ou have a couple o f people call you and it never goes the way people think it's going to go. And I was never even thinking in those terms, as far as, Oh, you're going to rate all these people j ust doesn't work. I wasn't interested in doing that. So I didn't do that. We wanted to build fresh and we want to build a different model. And so I saw all the things that we were doing as this 105 year old company. And then I saw some of the things that were being done in the industry by much smaller companies, with a much smaller Salesforce, but d oing a whole lot more numbers. And that's, that's really the model that I chose. We thought we're going to provide a great home for professional salespeople and a better home than everybody else could provide for people who are just want to be salespeople. And so that's how the word got out. We went to one of the trade shows. We , you know, we didn't do this by just sitting at home and hoping, just hope is not a strategy. So literally we did it by getting off our butt, going to the trade show. And I went and saw all our supplier friends and started developing relationships with suppliers so that we could have product to sell. But also they knew us and they know people, and then they made referrals to us. And then, you know , the referrals go for so long and you've got to figure out how am I going to go out market to get more people selling for me? So our whole growth strategy still is to this day, affiliated with great people, one great person at a time, not a hundred at a time, one great person at a time, both internally with our employees and our sales people . So,

Greg Muzzillo:

So today , uh, almost $40 million in sales , what's the size of the organization as it relates to number of people,

Fred Albrecht:

Sales people, 50 internal people , we're in 28 States.

Greg Muzzillo:

How many salespeople? 70 Awesome. So here you are 70 salespeople, 50 internal people. I've been to your building. It's a phenomenal headquarters , congratulations to you and Susie on that, tell us about some of the, couple of the really high highs along the way of getting to where you are today. And then we're going to go and I want you to tell us about some of the low, lows, some of the hardest darkest days.

Fred Albrecht:

So the high highs probably come every single day when I get to come to work. And I know that sounds crazy, but we love what we do. And we love the people that we do. I think that if the high high has to come from looking back where we were to where we came from, right? And so you started from scratch with nothing. I mean, absolutely no sales, no people, no nothing. And then you just one day, wake up and look back and say, my gosh, you know, we're on track to do 20 million, but when I'm doing 20 million, I'm thinking I want to do 30. You know , so never really satisfied. I guess I'm satisfied, but never complacent. I guess that's a difference, right? I'm always satisfied And I love what we're doing. And I think I can see success. And along the way, we've developed this method of growth that is sustainable and continues to be sustainable. And so I guess that's our high high , it was really the fact that we've got this, this machine in place that allows us to grow our business the right way profitably and enjoy what we're doing. And not just be stressed out every single day.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. Okay. It is a great life owning one's own business. And it's, I'm glad to hear you say, you're able to just live in the present moment every day when you sort of show up , owning your own business and building your own dream . So it's great that you experienced those highs so frequently, but now let's go visit. What were some of the darkest moments, darkest days, the lowest lows,

Fred Albrecht:

You know, first of all, you know, it's, it's never fun when you're perished by state auditors for sales tax and all the stuff you hate to do, right. I mean, that's the low of the low, and I have to deal with HR stuff. When I have to deal with payroll. It's not that I don't mind, I like making the payroll. I don't mind paying people. It's the process, right? It's doing certain things that all business owners have to do in addition to the fun stuff of growing your business. So that's one dark side. The other dark side is that there are various people out there who will take advantage of you. And it's not always, if you let them, it's just that they can, right. And you know, so early on we had a guy that came to us and he told us a big story about the sales he could do and all this stuff, you know, and I've always said, I'll never pay anybody a draw because if they need a draw, it means they don't have their sales. But we suckered. This guy came referrals from suppliers and everything else. And he took us for about 40 grand. At that time, when 40 grand meant one heck 40 grand isn't a lot today. Right. But, but when you're only doing a million d ollars o r $2 million in sales, that means a lot. So, that guy took us. And then I f ound out he had taken two or three other distributors the same kind of way at the same time, even. So he was a professional con artist, right? So if I let that keep me down, I would never hire another person in my life. I j ust, you know, you have to k inda, I hadn't even thought about that guy. But anyway, I h ad never thought about that guy a nd telling you today, because I 've put h im in the back of my mind someplace and said, you know, you're a bad memory. I don't need you, you have to do that So along the way, there's always those few here and there. That was the worst though. Yeah.

Greg Muzzillo:

Actually in what you're saying is some great advice to not let the low lows not let the things that could get you down, get you down and get in the way of going and growing. And so that sort of brings me to the next question, which would be, what couple of real key pieces of advice would you share with aspiring entrepreneurs and people with big dreams?

Fred Albrecht:

Well, number one is to affiliate with great people. That's been our impetus has allowed us to go out and do what we do best and that's grow our business. But, so my advice is you find great people to affiliate with and learn from, I mean, I've learned a lot from Greg. I think Greg learned some stuff from us too, for sure. That's how relationships work you share. I have something to offer. You have something to offer and you, everybody who is watching this has somebody or somebodies that could help them increase their business and grow the business. And the other thing, the other piece of advice I've had, I don't pretend to know everything. In fact, I'm constantly trying to learn. I want to become a better coach. I want to become a better business person. I want to become a better person period. So there's a lot of things that I've done along the way by finding either organizations or people or motivational people that would help you grow personally, spiritually and in business. So, relationships are what matters more than anything.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. Some great advice in there. Fred affiliate with great people because winners kind of help pave the way , because achieving begins with believing. I love what you said about complacency, never becoming complacent and always reaching for more. Although enjoying the moment while you're still reaching for more

Fred Albrecht:

And that's , you know, that's a hard balance, right? I mean, there are days when you're thinking you push, push, push, and then he asks you why, well , you have to have a why. You know, what is your , why ? Why do you exist? And actually we did a little bit of an exercise at one of our events. And I decided my, why is that That's why I started calling myself. The coach Fred is that I've always wanted to be a coach. And , and here I am one, right? So I'm not coaching football players. Thank God I'm not coaching baseball player, I'm coaching professional salespeople and I'm coaching them through their lives. I mean, because look, we become friends with our salespeople and we understand their families. We know when their son pitched a no-hitter, we know when their grandfather dies , it's just when it's all becoming. So you become a life coach at the same time as a sales coach. And so I think that's my why honestly, and that's what keeps me going. So when I can have those kind of phone calls and help somebody else, because you know what, every time I help somebody else, I learned something and people come and want to pick my brain that . So what I, when someone comes to pick my brain, I ask the right questions. And the questions I ask is like, well, what are you doing now? Right. That's the number one question in when you stand up, find out what they're doing now and how they're doing things you learn about their business. Maybe there's things I see that, gosh, you know , I could be doing that. And I, and we, we capitalize on those things. Every time I go to one of our events, like when we're doing networking events, I never miss networking events ever because it's another opportunity and it's not an opportunity to sell anybody. Anything. It's not an opportunity to buy anything. It's an opportunity just to sit down with somebody like Greg and learn by his life and or Fred or whoever it might be. And you learn how people are doing things. And you know what, sometimes they're doing things smarter than I am. Imagine.

Greg Muzzillo:

This brings us to where you're at today. I know you've got some family involved. I know you're nearly $40 million in sales. Tell us about , your family. I think how many of the people in your family are involved in the business?

Fred Albrecht:

So, you know, my, my wife's in the business, obviously she's my partner. My son, my oldest son is in the business. My son in law is in the business , Susie sister's in the business. So we get to work together every day and enjoy life every day. And that just adds to the fun of it. But you have to figure out also when you go home, can you shut it up? Now Susie and I c an't shut i t up, w e just, you know, w e'd go out and we're g oing t o, we're g oing t o make a pact, okay. Tonight, we're going out to eat, nobody's gonna mention anything. And one or the other, will bring something up and then it just starts, it's o ur life. Right. But you have for your k ids' sake. You have to kind of help them maintain their level of sanity b ecause they may not have the same picture. Y ou a nd I do right.

Greg Muzzillo:

Right, . But when you love it and when it's a passion, it's a hobby and a passion. It's so fun to talk about it. It's just part of the joy of life. And, you know, people say , I'm sure they say to you, you know, about going on vacation or whatever. And I think to people I say, I don't know what it means to take a vacation because I love what I do when I work. And I love what I do when I travel. And so I just love what I do. And I'm sure you're the same way. So I know today, Fred, you nearly $40 billion company, adult children in the business, a beautiful wife and smart partner in the business. Now that you've achieved this level of success, what big dreams do you have for your life?

Fred Albrecht:

Well, you know , stay healthy. Number one. I mean, you know, I think we all have, well , at least we should be thinking in those terms for our mental health and our physical health. I mean, that's, that's gotta be priority. I'll look at myself, you know, and this comes up every year on my birthday, I'm going to be 65. And in December I see my friends on Facebook, they're retiring from their jobs and they're doing all that . I have no desire to retire. I mean, retirement to me, take Friday off. You know, I mean, even though I can't do that, I try, but it doesn't work. But, so I don't have that kind of a drive or desire, but my desire is to continue to build a great business. And you know, our next next milestone is $50 million in sales. The closer we get to that, that's when we move to 75. So it's just the way it is, but that's kind of what keeps me going, right? I mean, if, look, if I think if we all were told that, Hey, your business is going to do $40 million for the rest of your born days, and this is going to be your income for the rest of your born days. I think it would take the motivation out. You know what I mean? It would be for sure, it'd be zero fun for me because the fun is figuring out what is next. You know what I mean? Like, so in the last five years we've developed some unique marketing tools, both for recruiting and for helping our people grow. But that was part of my kind of learning growth for me and for our, it ended up being for our company too, but you learn how to do things differently than everybody else. And so I'm always looking for that next piece, not the next greatest shiny penny. I'm looking for the next tool or resource that will help our salespeople achieve their dreams . So, when you're talking about achieving my dreams, well my dreams is a collection of the 70 salespeople right there. Sure. I can only be as successful as those 70 can be. And so that's why I might need 75 right of the right people. But at the same token, how can I help them achieve those dreams? And if I help one person grow their business and then make it so that when they send me a picture of a new boat or a new RV or a new, yo u k n ow, New TV, whatever it is that they wa nted a nd they show me th ey're o u t h a ving f un with it. I love that

Greg Muzzillo:

It is wonderful for us to be able to pursue our own dreams as business owners and Fred. I know that you share my heart mostly for helping other people achieve their dreams. Fred, I want to thank you very much for taking some time out of your busy day and your very successful business to join us for Million Dollar Monday. And I want to thank all of you for joining us for Million Dollar. Monday, Monday for all of us is the start of the week. But my hope is that for some of you today, you will take massive action in the pursuit of your big dream . Thank you.

All About Fred Albrecht
Strong Work Ethic
Your Scoreboard Looks Terrible
Building the Business from Scratch
Never Complacent
Surround Yourself with Successful People
Finding Balance
Big Dreams