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May 2017 - Frederick Fence | Residential and Commercial Fencing in MD, VA, WV

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The Frederick Fence Story
Chapter 4:
Fences and Family: Thoughts from the Staff

May 23, 2017 ~ Posted By Jim Jenkins

RANDY

Randy Fouche

One of the notable things about Frederick Fence is that many of its employees have been with the company—on average—for more than half of its lifespan. Given the average individual makes 4 to 5 career moves by the time they’re 35 years old, the team at Frederick Fence stands out as a positive and significant anomaly. Some employees, like Jon “JC” Wisner and Randy Fouche, have been there since the beginning. Others—like Kathy Crum, Louise Barnard, Doug Martin, Joan Spangler and Roxanne Henline—are approaching their second and third decade with the company.

What is that draws people to Frederick Fence? The answer is simple—people feel as if Frederick Fence is not just a place to work, it’s home. The team of folks who show up every day—whether it’s the office staff, installers or sales folks who all make the fencing magic happen for the company’s clients—consider Frederick Fence the best place to work. In fact, Charlie Powers considers everyone who works for the company to be his partners. “People work with me, not for me,” says Charlie. “These are my closest friends and my family. I can’t imagine doing business any other way.”

Family First: The Secret To Frederick Fence

Jon "JC" Wisner, the longest lasting employee at Frederick Fence

Jon “JC” Wisner

Pay a visit to Tilco Drive and you’re certain to see a lot of smiles on people’s faces as well as hear a lot of laughter as the work gets done. “You can’t beat the work atmosphere here,” says Randy Fouche, who was first brought on board to answer phones and work in the supply yard. “When I first walked through the doors, I knew Frederick Fence was going to go places and I just wanted to grow with it.” Randy, who celebrates his 34th year with the company this August, appreciates that he’s been given significant opportunities to learn new skills and apply himself in different ways as part of his tenure with the fence outfit.

For JC Wisner, working at Frederick Fence has granted him a lifetime of fun and success with one of his closest friends. “When Charlie started the company, we just wanted to hold our heads up high if we walked around Frederick.” From the start, Wisner admits that Frederick Fence was built on Charlie Powers’ desire to build the best fences possible and make people happy. Wisner also admits that though there were times that he and Charlie fought like cats and dogs over how to get the job done, they always managed to end each day as family and not foes. “We built this company from 2 piles of lumber into something great,” says Jon. “How often do you get that kind of opportunity to be part of something special that makes you proud of the work you do every day.” As Frederick Fence’s longest lasting staff member, Wisner cannot imagine being anyplace else and is just as excited to see where the company goes next as the fencing company approaches its fourth decade.

Louise Barnard

Louise Barnard

Louise Barnard, the company’s most experienced sales associate, can’t imagine working for anyone else other than the Powers family. Helping families design the perfect fence for their home is what Louise loves to do and admits that working at Frederick Fence for more than thirty years has allowed her to learn a lot about herself. When asked why she’s stayed so long, Louise will tell you that Frederick Fence is a company that takes care of the clients when they could say no and that she sees herself as “part of a family and that Charlie would take care of me if anything happened.” Now that Charlie has passed the company onto his children, Louise feels highly optimistic about where the company goes next. “I have gotten to watch Charlie’s kids grow up to be hard working, compassionate adults and I’m proud to work with them. I know this because of the way Charlie and Diane raised them.”

Kathy Crum, Frederick Fence's General Manager

Kathy Crum

This sentiment holds true for Kathy Crum, Frederick Fence’s General Manager and Controller. Kathy joined the company in 1990 as a bookkeeper and soon found herself in the midst of something unique. “I noticed right away the casual/relaxed atmosphere and everyone seemed to be friends. The phones were constantly ringing—this was a fast-paced and busy office but everybody was having fun at the same time.” Kathy also admits her initial impressions of Charlie Powers were paradoxical. “He seemed intense, focused, all business and yet was personable and humorous.” As the company grew, Kathy credits being able to put new policies and procedures in place for efficiency as part of why she’s stayed with Frederick Fence for so long. “Sure, we bicker and fight, and joke around and laugh, but everyone here wants the company to succeed and be profitable. For me personally, I’ve seen the growth and I’d like to think I contributed to our success to where ’ll stay until I can’t work anymore!”

The notion of staying until not being able to work anymore is one most Frederick Fence staff seem to share. Even with the transition in company ownership from Charlie Powers to Erin, Kelly and Todd Powers, the team of individuals who walked through the doors of Frederick Fence years ago remain as committed ever to providing the best quality fence supplies and services for customers.

What will the next chapter in the Frederick Fence story look like? For that, we need to hear from the company’s new owners, who are working together to create their shared vision for where the company goes next. Expect them to share their thoughts as they prepare for a special celebration, which we’ll feature on our site soon!

The Frederick Fence Story
Chapter 3:
In My Own Words
by Charlie Powers

May 3, 2017 ~ Posted By Jim Jenkins

Charlie Powers earlier in his tenure as the founder and president of Frederick Fence

Charlie Powers earlier in his tenure as the founder and president of Frederick Fence

If you told me more than 35 years ago that I would go from simply owning a truck and a desire to make a living to support my family to eventually owning a huge supply yard with a large showroom and a great team that sells and builds some of the best fences I’ve ever seen, I think I would have laughed in your face. I never thought about the money, I never thought about running a large shop, and I certainly never thought I would be in a place to transition my company to new leadership. On the day I made a decision to start my own company, I just knew in my heart that I didn’t want to work for other people anymore and I also thought that I could do it better when it came to installing fence. That’s it!

I’ve thought a lot about Frederick Fence of late—maybe more so now than in the last fifteen years when things were really cooking and it was obvious to me that I needed to move from our own place on Grove Lane to where we are now on Tilco Drive. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Some might call it wisdom, some might call it drive—I just sometimes think I got blessed with “dumb luck” as a lot of what’s transpired with my business has been about being there for people who needed a product and I was fortunate enough to have the best people to make it happen for them!

My DIY materials for a Durable (Fence) Company

Great Employees

The main thing that has allowed me and Frederick Fence to remain in business is good people. I started on day one with just JC (Wisner) and that was enough to get going. I once told JC in the early days that one day he’d be sitting behind a desk and that he wouldn’t be outside working like crazy to build fences. He would just laugh at me and keep on digging post holes, but the joke is on him as that’s what he does now as our Operations Manager!

Shortly after we started, I got Western Fence to let me have their phone number for use in the Frederick area and once the phone started ringing, I started looking for people to work with me. My wife, Diane, helped out a great deal in those early days. She had another job, but she’d answer the phones and help with the paperwork so I could focus on sales.

Over time, I brought in more folks to help with the installs and that soon lead to having more people in an office to get potential customers’ names so I could do the sales. I always thought I’d be doing sales. For one, I loved it! I loved talking to people to find out what they wanted and I would offer them a fence at a great price so they could afford it. I love that kind of challenge and negotiation’s always been something I enjoy. However, over time, I knew I couldn’t be the only sales person so I needed more people. To jump start my sales team, I bought Seneca Fence as I knew they had some great people working for them.

A lot of fence companies hire contractors to do their work—that’s a very popular model for business. However, I never wanted to do things that way. From the beginning, I wanted my own team working with me and I wanted to be the one to lead them. I wanted to ensure that people got a quality fence and to do that, I needed to have folks under my care so I could show them what needed to be done to build fences that would last a long time. I also wanted to create a place where people could earn a living for themselves and their families like I was doing. I wanted to do a good job for others; I wanted people who told me they wanted to do the same thing.

A Strong Resolve

Tenacity is another thing I came to this business with and it’s still what makes Frederick Fence such a great company. Some will tell you that I’ve always been stubborn. And in the early years, I suppose I was. In fact, you can ask my kids and they’ll tell you that their daddy was always working. For years, I didn’t eat dinner at home. I worked and worked to get those fences sold and installed and I wasn’t stopping until I got the job done. Underneath all that resolve; however, was a huge fear of failure. Not that a fence would go in wrong or that I had undersold a job. I’m talking about personal failure. If I didn’t make things work that I would go under and I had people counting on me—my family, my team and my creditors—and I could not afford to lose. Fear’s a great motivator sometimes! But it can also work in your favor when you hunker down and focus on the job at hand.

Stamina and Grit

Another material that I’d say goes into making Frederick Fence such a sturdy company is fortitude. When combined with fear, I’m amazed at what a little courage and stamina can do. My favorite memories from those early days were when we were just selling and installing. I loved a good challenge! In fact, the harder the job, the greater the joy at the end. I sought out bids that would force me to learn more about fence installation. Those large jobs enabled me to grow my install team and allowed me to take on more staff to divide up the work as I knew at some point, I wanted to step back from what was happening and manage the whole show from one spot! But one thing I did early on was tell everyone who worked for me that we quit when we are all done our work. That meant if you ended your job at one site, you went to another one to help another crew finish up. We didn’t look at the clock back then; we looked at what was on the docket for each day and everyone started and ended their day together.

Was I sometimes a difficult person to work with those first few years? I’m not gonna even try to say I was perfect back then. Nope, I can’t go there—too many people would read this and laugh out loud if I tried to paint myself as the saint of the fencing industry! But what I will tell you is that at the end of each day, no matter how much pressure I put on my people, I reserved the brunt of that pressure for myself. When I sent a truck down the road, I knew there was always a risk in the reward. But I was driven to succeed and I liked things done a certain way that I knew would make customers happy.

Know Your Niche

The name of our company is Frederick Fence and fences are our only game. One of the greatest course corrections I made about a decade ago was to no longer install decks. We did them for a while, but I will readily admit that decks were not our strong suit. Installing decks was a challenge for some of our crews and I personally felt that some of the decks we built were just not our best work. At the time, it seemed like a good idea to expand our products, but we found ourselves sacrificing quality over quantity and so about ten years ago, I made the decision that we’d stick to what we do best and build people the best possible fence money could buy. Thankfully, that decision to remove decks was one of the happiest decisions I made as everyone in the company was glad to see them go!

Advocates for Success

In addition to having great employees, I was also blessed by building my own support team of experts who helped me shape Frederick Fence with their sage advice and candor. Early on, I hired a great accountant, a smart attorney, and established a great relationship with my banker. Each of them helped me make wise decisions as Frederick Fence started to take shape. Through the years, I learned from fence installation experts, web strategists and an executive coach and sales trainer who helped me re-energize my sales team at point when I felt I couldn’t do anything further to grow the business. To my surprise and delight, we started having some of our best years once I put in place a formal training program for my sales team.

My Most Sacred Lesson Learned

When I first started this company, I was a deeply driven man. I was bound and determined to succeed and do the right thing and make a lot of people happy by giving them a great fence for a great price. I created this company out of a desire to do everyone else in the business one better—I knew that if I had my own company and did things my way that I’d probably be a heck of a lot more successful. I pretty much controlled every aspect of the company and did everything I could to keep the lights on each year. Remember, I told you I was stubborn! I liked things done a certain way and during those early years, we got things done because I drove my team to its limits. For the first fifteen years, I was so committed to the company that I’m somewhat amazed that some of the original staff are still here!

When things really started to take off and the residential market in Frederick exploded, so did my perfectionist streak! Imagine trying to foolishly think you could control every aspect of running your business while more and more customers wanted a fence. Did I become my own worst enemy? Oh yes! Thankfully, I never had the major meltdown that some businesses owners experience. But as the company was steadily growing, I realized I was not happy with who I was.

When I recognized I was missing out on my family and my faith, that’s when things started to shift for me. I started studying the Bible again and reconnected to its many wondrous teachings.   The more I studied, the more trusting I became and I took to heart the lessons about letting go and opening my heart to others. I also learned what it means to be of service. My staff will readily tell you that in the past twenty years that I’ve mellowed quite a bit and am now a lot kinder, easier to work with, and a lot more fun.

One of things I’m most proud of is that I now serve on the board of the Frederick Rescue Mission and mentor folks whose lives need support. I love helping others see the bountiful gifts that life offers them through Christ’s teachings as His words have made my life infinitely better since devoting my life to them twenty years ago.

Preparing for What’s Next

Charlie and Diane Powers

Charlie Powers today, with his lovely wife, Diane. Thinking about what’s next in life as a new generation of Frederick Fence leadership begins…

This year Frederick Fence celebrates its 35th year in business and I am deeply humbled and proud that we’re still here. I cannot thank all our customers enough for their business and for making our company part of their homes. I am often humbled by the sight of our signs on people’s fences when I make my way around the area. It means that a lot of people placed their trust in our company and asked us to make their homes complete.

I also cannot thank my staff and advisors enough for their support these many years. Some of you have been with me since the beginning, some of you have made your careers here and I am so proud to know you wanted to work with me for so long. Of course, I also need to thank my wife, Diane, for her love and support. She’s my best friend in the world and she’s believed in me even on my worst day. I honestly would not be here if it weren’t for her.

Finally, I need to express my extreme thanks to my three children—Erin, Kelly and Todd—who are now make up the next generation of Frederick Fence leadership. I’m humbled that they chose to be a part of this business when they could have freely chosen something else to pursue. I can think of no greater honor than to see your own children wanting to follow in your footsteps. I hope I’ve taught you three well as this begins your time in making Frederick Fence a wonderful place to work and the best place for our customers when it comes to buying a fence!

Charlie Powers

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