Northwest Business Magazine

Success Stories: Pearson

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Success starts with a friendly attitude and continues through quality customer service. Learn how dedicated employees have helped to build long-term relationships with Rockford-area homeowners.

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Matthew Morgan, Pearson president; Christie Jarrett, vice president of human resources and marketing; and Greg Lee, executive president are just a few of the behind-the-scenes leaders at this Rockford company.

 

The Pearson Guy says it all. He’s a stellar employee, alert, happy, well-dressed, eager, willing and ready to serve all customers as if they were the only one on the day’s agenda. He’s the mascot of Pearson, 2415 20th St., Rockford, which specializes in plumbing, heating, air conditioning, pest control and more. In business for 51 years, Pearson services customers in Winnebago, Boone, Ogle and Stephenson counties, with offices in Rockford and Freeport.

The professional image and quality service for which the Pearson Guy so proudly stands explain the company’s continued growth and success, says Greg Lee, executive vice president.

“A lot of our work is responding to crisis situations, which requires people to make unexpected expenditures,” says Lee. “We have to be in tune with what people need and take care of those needs. We have one goal and that’s to fix the problem and earn the customer’s trust.”

President Matthew Morgan says good employees are the backbone of any successful business, and the company strives to hire the best through a rigorous interview process and an extensive background check.

“A good employee has a passion for what he or she is doing, is interested in performing a professional service and has a strong work ethic, while respecting customers, listening to their needs, understanding the customer’s role and being able to bring calm to a crisis situation,” he says.

John Witt, a service technician with Pearson for 11 years, has been in the heating and air conditioning business for more than 20 years. He says working for Pearson is special because of its high standards, team approach, appreciation for employees and their families, and ongoing training.

“Their door is always open to us,” says Witt. “They treat us like family, ask our opinions, listen to our concerns, and we work together as a team. We are always involved in ongoing training, including safety meetings, learning about new products, training on new equipment and how to best deal with customers. Our No. 1 concern is how to satisfy our customers. That’s how we keep customers and have so much repeat business.”

Witt estimates that about 90 percent of his business is repeat customers. New business is mostly generated by referrals from existing customers.

“When you’re dealing with people, you have to have a good attitude, be sympathetic and empathetic, but most of all you have to know how to listen,” says Witt. “People will tell you what they need and want, if you just listen. When people have problems with their heating or air conditioning, they become uncomfortable, scared, upset, and they don’t know what’s wrong or what it’s going to cost. We listen and we also ask pertinent questions so we can understand what’s wrong and get to the source of the problem so we can fix it.”

Pearson offers various payment plans and financing options to work with people the best it can, when money is an issue, he adds.

“I always first introduce myself and present my business card to a customer,” says Witt. “If I find something wrong, I like to show them what’s wrong and educate them by explaining their options, so they can make the best decision for their situation.”

Charles Holsinger of Rockford is a longtime customer and recently was especially impressed by Pearson when he was faced with a big problem at home.

Holsinger had installed a new boiler and water heater. A rusty water problem was traced to a problem in the water softener. When replaced, the softener developed a leak.

“They came back at 8:30 p.m., after being at the house all day, and stayed until 11 p.m., until the problem was fixed, and at no additional charge,” says Holsinger. “I can’t say enough good things about Pearson. I liked the way they worked with us and we appreciated their professionalism. Our water quality now is incredible.”

The family concept resonates well with Witt, who is the father of eight children. He enjoys the family activities sponsored by Pearson.

“Randomly, several times a year, they give us tickets to sporting events or sponsor family picnics and other activities. It helps us get to know our co-workers, make new friends, and that carries over into the workplace when we need to help each other on the job,” he says.

When Roger Pearson founded the company in 1964, he wanted to offer the public clean, polite, uniformed and skilled plumbers to win over customers and get repeat business. When Bob Stenstrom bought the plumbing business in 1991, he could see the possibilities. A general contractor also involved in real estate, excavating, concrete, blacktop and petroleum, he knew the value of offering customers more than one service.

Pearson began as a plumbing, heating and air conditioning business and added pest control in 2007. As the business grew, the name of the business was shortened to Pearson, to sum up all they do.

“Service is service,” Lee says. “You can serve people with any product, but you have to go about growing a business in a healthy way, by making sure the growth is well planned and happens gradually. You can never lose sight of your mission to be professional and give the customer what services they most need.”

Growing a business is not just about buying up any company that is for sale, says Christie Jarrett, vice president of human resources and marketing.

“It has to be a perfect fit,” she says. “The company’s image and culture have to be in line with what we believe. We have a quality reputation and want to attract quality.”

Jarrett, Stenstrom’s daughter, started in the family business answering telephone calls when she was just 18 years old. She believes the connection employees have through family, friends and their own experience in a family-owned business allows for quicker response time to get things done.

“I really think that when people have long-term connections with one another, they make better decisions together, and faster,” she says.

Much of the staff has been employed 20 or more years at Pearson.

“People stay because we treat our employees well and fair,” says Jarrett. “We have a mutual respect for one another that comes from hiring people with shared values of respecting people and their property. People’s loyalty is not the same as it used to be when people worked in the same place for 40 years. People are pulled in so many directions these days and have access to so much information through the Internet.

“We still look for the same things in people,” she adds. “We’re who we are, regardless of what’s happening in the world. Things change, but what’s important doesn’t change.”

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