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Columbia Business Monthly

#2 - Diesel Laptops

Jan 09, 2019 09:28AM ● By Kathleen Maris
Founded: 2014
Founder: Tyler Robertson
Headquarters location: Gilbert
Number of other locations: 1
Number of employees (start): 2
Number of employees (present): 85

Diesel Laptops, founded by Tyler Robertson in 2014, provides specialized diesel diagnostic equipment for the commercial truck, construction, automobile, agriculture, and off-highway markets. Diesel Laptops is the industry leader in diesel diagnostic tools. It prides itself on being the diesel diagnostic experts and providing customers with world-class customer service.
 
What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?  
Tyler Robertson (Founder): We constantly come out with new products and services while still marketing and expanding our sales team. We jump into new verticals such as off-highway and marine diagnostics. We’ve come up with multiple solutions for pain points in our industries, and we listen hard to what the customer has to say. We will attend over 40 trade shows this year, we are heavily invested in online marketing, and continue to grow our brand name in our industry.
 
What’s in store for your company? 
We are going virtual. The next step in our evolution is providing customers with repair information and diagnostics remotely. This means a customer can be 500 miles away but will be able to easily livestream to our diesel technicians while we are accessing their computer system. This means we can help deliver a repair plan on how to fix their issue.
 
What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?  
Our biggest challenge is scaling our rapid growth, as we’ve hired a new employee every two days in 2018.  To meet this challenge head on, we choose our team wisely, keep customer experience a priority, and stay open to adapting.
 
Do plan to add any employees in the coming year? If so, how many?  
Currently, we are hiring one employee every two days and plan to grow exponentially in the coming year.
 
What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?  
The industry is changing fast. Electric trucks are coming, required electronic driver logs happened in 2018, and everything is getting smaller and more mobile. Technicians two years ago wanted to do everything from a laptop; now they want to do them remotely and with their phones or tablets.
 
What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?  
I wouldn’t say it was one piece of advice, rather what I saw happening. I’ve seen numerous successful companies become complacent and stop moving forward. Several years later, the company is failing and closing. My philosophy has been to keep all available money in the company and expand and innovate as fast as possible.
 
Growing fast is one thing, but long-term sustainable success is another. What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul?  
For us, the long-term plan is providing customers with quality products and quality service and supporting them. If we can do those things, customers will keep paying for it.
 
How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself?  
I’m an industry news junkie. I subscribe to all the magazines and newsletters, and I’m constantly active on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. There are a ton of industry groups on those platforms, and information usually lands there first.
 
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your professional career?  
I would have become an entrepreneur sooner than I did. I was afraid to make the cut from the “regular” job that provided a steady paycheck, and it was especially difficult when I had two kids under 3 at the time. I really thank my wife for really encouraging me to go out and try this, as I would probably be sitting a desk working for someone else if she hadn’t.
 
What does being a success mean to you?  
At first, I measured success by just being profitable and creating a company. Now, it means more along the lines of innovating and changing the status quo of the way our industry has worked for numerous years.
 
What is your preferred method of communication — phone call, text message, email — and why?  
It depends on urgency. I prefer email for items that require a lot of thought but can wait, phone calls or texts for more urgent needs, and in-person meetings for discussions and brainstorming sessions so that we can communicate more quickly and bounce ideas more easily.
 
Given the ease and ability to be engaged in work 24/7, how do you and how often do you break free from the job?  
I leave work every day at 4 p.m., sometimes sooner. I have young kids and a wife, so it is important that I’m around them when I can be. We also live next to Lake Murray, so we are out there pretty much every weekend enjoying family time.
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