The Download: Billy Marshall, CEO, ServiceTrade

Billy Marshall is the CEO at ServiceTrade and author of two books: The Digital Wrap and Money for Nothing. He is a sought-after speaker on topics relating to innovation, technology, digital marketing, and sales methodology for commercial-service contractors.

He has held leadership roles in product, sales, and business development at a range of companies, including Fortune 100 companies, family-owned contracting businesses, and startups. He coaches commercial-service contractors on best practices to thrive in increasingly competitive markets.

The ServiceTrade software platform enables its more than 600 customers (such as fire protection professionals, HVAC engineers, plumbers, and electricians) to manage commercial-service operations.

  1. What is in your pockets?

There are only two things in my pocket. Literally, they are paperclips, one of those little black binder clips. I use that just because it’s so low-profile, as opposed to trying to carry a wallet around. One of them is a clip of cash, and the other one is a clip of cards, credit cards, medical insurance card. I tend not to even carry my keys around in my pocket much. I just stuff them in my backpack, or I dump them in the cup holder of the car, because there are so many keys on it. The key fob for my car is so big that I don’t like having it in my pocket. I keep a wallet in my backpack with everything else that I might ever need.

  1. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?

We brought on Frontier Growth as a capital partner. That’s pretty exciting for us. The company has been bootstrapped with private investors up to this point. Now we’ve got a clearer path to even higher growth by having a partner. (Note: ServiceTrade raised $30 million from Frontier Growth in August 2020.)

I’d say the other exciting thing is that we’re only off of our pre-COVID plan by about 10% on new sales this year. We’ve even got a shot to make it up in the fourth quarter. But our customer base has been so resilient, and they are essential workers, so we’ve had the opportunity to continue to sell even through this pandemic.

ServiceTrade is a software-as-a-service application with a heavy focus on mobile for commercial-service contractors. Those are the tradespeople who take care of the equipment inside of commercial buildings: the sprinkler system, the alarm system, the plumbing system, the HVAC system, and certain industrial applications as well. They take care of the equipment that keeps the building safe, keeps the atmosphere comfortable, and keeps the water clean. We don’t sell to anybody that does residential, only commercial.

  1. What is your favorite coffee spot?

Well, I don’t drink coffee, so I don’t really care about a coffee spot per se, but I will tell you that the place I go hang out for business meetings. I recently met with the CEO of one of our partners, who also recently did a capitalization, at the meat locker at the Angus Barn. You can sit outside and you can drink red wine and smoke a cigar.

  1. What keeps you up at night?

I worry about the trajectory of this pandemic.  Is it going to, as some of the data suggests, create another lockdown situation? I worry about that, and that’s probably the biggest concern. I’m not concerned about any particular competitor or a lack of success with our customers. I think we’ve got that pretty well taken care of, but I really do worry about the trajectory of this pandemic.

I also worry about the political polarization in our country. I don’t think it’s helped that. I think there’s got to be some reckoning that resolves some of the schism that exists between both sides. It’s too much. It’s too heated. All this apocalyptic talk is bad. It’s bad for our country. It’s bad for our economy, so at some point that’s got to be resolved.

  1. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?

Restaurant or happy hour? Good question. Because of the pandemic, there hasn’t been much going on with the restaurants, but I like the menu over at Taza in Raleigh. They’ve got this oven-charred okra that is really good.

  1. What is next for you or your organization?

We have a build-out on the management team that we need to do. We need to hire a CFO, and we’re going to hire a marketing leader as well. Those are big hires for us. We’re excited to be augmenting the team at that level now.

Other than that, it’s really more of the same, even with Frontier on board. We’re going to grow about 45% this year even in the pandemic. We think we can grow 50% next year, and we think we can grow 50% or so the year after that.

All that’s business as usual, but once you reach those plateaus, you’re able to continue to build out the team. We don’t see any big changes on the horizon. We’re not changing who we sell to, and we’re not changing what we sell. There’s no need to do a pivot when everything’s working. We are so lucky that our customer base is so resilient.

About Brooks Malone 105 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and Raleigh Founded.