IdeaMensch Chad Falkenberg CEO and Founder of Soilworks
Chad Falkenberg – CEO and Founder of Soilworks
IdeaMensch • April 21, 2016
Do it right, right now.
Chad Falkenberg is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Soilworks, LLC. The soil stabilization and dust control company’s headquarters is located in Scottsdale, Arizona
Although Chad’s original passion was to become a nuclear physicist, his path ultimately steered him to become an entrepreneur. Chad holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and business marketing from the Michael G. Foster School of Business at the University of Washington and coursework in soils engineering for roads and pavements from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also certified in metal, nonmetal, underground and surface mining safety.
Captivated with the overwhelming global potential of the soil stabilization and dust control market, Chad set off to create a reputable legacy company that could handle large scalable growth using the finest ingredients for superior performance and environmental efficacy.
Chad founded Soilworks in 2003 and has built the company on a strict philosophy of establishing industry standards for superior performance, accountability, and environmental stewardship.
Today, Soilworks provides engineered solutions to meet the broad needs of the dust control and soil stabilization industry. Whether the market is commercial, industrial or military, Soilworks has the innovative tools, unmatched technical support, and environmentally friendly technologies to fulfill specific requirements.
Where did the idea for Soilworks come from?
The idea for Soilworks came when I worked for a competitor. Having worked for the competition and seeing the deficiencies of a “lifestyle” company to grow and expand, I set out to build a “legacy” company that was founded on scalability and repeatability to become a true leader in every way.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As an entrepreneur and leader of a company, a typical day for me is well beyond an eight-hour shift. I enjoy 12-hour workdays because I love growing Soilworks. With my current position, I get to take advantage of my scientific background, something I’m very passionate about and pair it with my education in business and marketing. Soilworks feeds my needs an entrepreneur.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Through our amazing staff. I don’t do it, they do it. From laboratory testing of products and field testing of techniques to innovative marketing methods and streamlined internal processes, it all happens because of our great team here at Soilworks.
We get together all the time to talk about new ideas and ways to make things better when we see a problem. I think we’re all well programmed to look at ways to make things better and with regular staff meetings, were constantly bouncing ideas off of each other, talking about challenges that we have and looking towards solving them.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One trend that really excites me is the traction we have made with our patented Durasoil synthetic dust suppression fluid with gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology. I’m amazed by its capabilities and pleasantly surprised by how well the market has received it. I’m excited to see where we can go with our innovation.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Although long hours seem obvious, it’s really the fact that I never stop thinking and strategizing about ways to improve things. That doesn’t stop when we lock the doors at night. It continues at night and it continues on the weekends.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
One of the worst jobs I ever had was working for a competitor. However, had I not worked there; I wouldn’t have been able to see the untapped potential of this industry. If I hadn’t been there, Soilworks wouldn’t be the global leader in the dust control and soil stabilization industry as it is today.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
In the beginning years of our business, we could have been more efficient in our growth by hiring more high-level, subject matter experts to cater to specific industries, whether that was military, mining or other target markets we sell to. I think they would have been able to help by leveraging their knowledge and getting our products into those industries more efficiently.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Do it right, right now. As a growing organization, we do it right but doing it right now can be challenging with limited resources. You have to pick and choose your priorities to get it done right.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Focusing on the people. By finding, hiring and keeping the best staff, it has significantly helped Soilworks grow and achieve our goals year to year.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I underestimated the lack of competitive ethics in our industry, but I have learned how to leverage our integrity and history to combat those ongoing challenges.
In the dust control and soil stabilization industry, there are a lot of opportunities to take shortcuts. Because there are a lot of customers, we see competitors burn a lot of bridges and still keep selling – since they just have to sell to new customers every year.
For us, we always make sure our customers are always happy and to always do the right thing even if it’s at our own cost. Often times, when you go through a hard time with a customer, in the end, they become your most loyal customer because they know that when something goes sideways, you’re going to be there to make it right. By always doing the right thing, Soilworks has become more successful.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Our industry lacks unified standards both nationally and globally. If someone were to develop standards for testing both quality and performance, it would bring significant progress to the dust control and soil stabilization industry.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Every year, we create a hardbound photo album with pictures from all of the events we’ve done that year. For me, I’m really big on memories and the most important thing about memories is when you get to share them. Having this album and being able to share those memories with the people I care about is priceless.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I’ve become a big fan of Uber and I love the convenience it offers for a reasonable price. I think it’s a brilliant idea, as well as an economical and safe alternative.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m still a huge fan of Jim Collins’ “Built to Last” and “Good to Great.” I read them in college and continue to use that information to help position Soilworks as an industry leader.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
From a business owner and entrepreneur standpoint, it’s talking to other influential business owners and entrepreneurs. There is a lot of commonality between us and what I find is that, although they’re driven to their own success, they always want to make everyone else successful. They are always willing to share their successes and mistakes for the betterment of others.