BUSINESS: HIALEAH METER COMPANY
YEAR FOUNDED: 1954
PROGRAM: 2014 Emerging Leaders Miami
“My father-in-law and mother-in-law had each other. They could divide the responsibilities and trust each other. I didn’t have that person so I needed that person. Going through the Interise program made me realize I needed to have trusted employees.”
Hialeah Meter refurbishes and recycles electrical meters that track energy usage. These meters are sold and used across the nation in RV Parks, Campgrounds and Marinas. The company recycles around 35,000 electric watthour meters every year from a single location in Hialeah, a suburb of Miami Dade County in Florida. The company has recently expanded its market to target solar companies who need these meters to measure energy production and sell excess power to the grid.
BUILDING CAPACITY THROUGH TRUST
In 2008, Lisa Senior took over Hialeah Meter from her father-in-law. Hialeah Meter at the time already had a strong clientbase, but Lisa saw the potential to expand to new clients as well. To do this, Lisa knew she needed to start attending more trade shows. The problem, however, was that she could not afford to be away from her business. In 2014, Lisa took part in the U.S. Small Business Administration's Emerging Leaders program. With the help of this program, Lisa learned to delegate and invest trust into her employees. Once she did, she was able to take the time necessary to expand her network.
Sustainable Transition Plans:
Transforming a Mom and Pop Business
For years, the founder of Hialeah Meter had planned to pass down the business to a family member. It was a true “family business,” according to the founder’s daughter-in-law Lisa Senior. Lisa explained, “By age 70, he was already losing luster for growing a business, for doing anything in the business to change it. So there was a ten-year period where it was a mom-and-pop company. Everything [was] status quo.” Hialeah Meter had a successful business model, but Lisa was troubled by the lack of plans to grow the company.
In 2008, Lisa became the unlikely family member to take up the family mantle. “I really only wanted to be a mom,” Lisa recalls, despite her degree in business and marketing from Florida International University. After she became the general manager, she felt a responsibility to her employees to transform the business: “Knowing that these people depended on my father-in-law, and now me, for their livelihood – that was my motivation.”
Given the standard industry practice of crushing old utility meters for scrap metal, Hialeah Meter had located an opportunity. Hialeah Meter recycles and refurbishes electrical watthour meters to sell to RV parks, Campgrounds and Marinas. The model is unique; Lisa explained, “When it comes to refurbishing the meters, there are only two other companies that do what we do. No other company in the United States actually sells directly to the sub-metering industry.”
Lisa saw a reliable market and wanted to take the company to the next level. Towards that goal, she joined the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Emerging Leaders program in Miami, one of 48 SBA Emerging Leaders programs powered by Interise’s StreetWise 'MBA'™.
“I’m very energized. I really want to grow this company and Interise really helped me with that. It’s focused me in more ways than I can ever think of. It opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to be more active within the electrical industry world.”
Lisa needed to trust her employees to run the business. The class taught her the importance of “processes, procedures, and policies… to allow for an easier onboarding process of that new person” and to make sure that new staff are ready to contribute. Her staff has grown from 10 full-time employees to 14, but more importantly, the quality of her employees has improved. She has been able to delegate important tasks, and she is now able to attend industry trade shows.
“Going through the Interise program made me realize I needed to have a trusted employee. And that’s very hard to do. So it really comes down to clear expectations and what the message is when you’re with prospective employees—letting them know what you expect of them and what they expect of the company.”
Two years after the program, Lisa feels confident in Hialeah Meter’s future. While the company currently fulfills a demand for 35,000 meters a year, the emerging solar industry offers new opportunity. Measuring excess power to sell back to the grid is an emerging market in the United States. “You always need to be learning something,” Lisa concludes. “Technology is changing so quickly that you have to keep up… The program opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to be more active within the electrical industry world.”
Lisa has learned from her father-in-law’s experience and is now creating a sustainable transition plan. She explained, “Going through the Interise program really focused my mind on how I am going to make this company [sustainable] so that my exit strategy should work. It’s all about creating a sustainable company.” Lisa has transformed the family business to a growth-oriented company, with eyes towards the future.