Beyond Strategy is an ACG National Capital Region podcast focused on the leaders that are driving innovation, enhancing understanding, and achieving market clearing outcomes in and around the DC area. The podcast will interview senior level executives, private equity partners, and industry leaders to discuss topics including, but not limited to, mergers and acquisition, organic growth pursuits, leadership and management strategies.
Episode 5 includes a sit-down interview with Bob Lohfeld Jr., CEO of Sev1Tech, a leading provider of digital transformation, cybersecurity, cloud, and C5ISR solutions supporting critical mission challenges across the defense, intelligence, homeland security, space, and health markets. In a wide-ranging conversation, Bob shares his insight on how Sev1Tech supports its government customers, develops employees, maintains a robust company culture, and purses inorganic opportunities, among other topics.
Listen to the podcast and read a transcript of the interview below:
Andy McEnroe: Hi, hello, and welcome to Episode 5 of Beyond Strategy, an ACG National Capital Region podcast focused on leaders driving innovation, enhancing understanding, and achieving market clearing outcomes in and around the DC area.
I am Andy McEnroe of Raymond James Defense and Government Investment Banking team.
Jenn Wappaus: And I’m Jen Wappaus of Infinity Wealth Management Group at RBC.
Andy McEnroe: Today we are excited to present to you Bob Lohfeld, Jr., CEO of Sev1Tech. Sev1Tech is a leading provider of digital transformation, cybersecurity, cloud and C5ISR solutions. The company supports critical mission challenges across the defense, intelligence, homeland security, space, and health markets.
Jenn Wappaus: Bob is described by those in the industry as a hands-on executive leader who brings energy and passion to his organization, driven by a desire to affect change, align business goals, and set strategic direction which certainly aligns with this podcast.
In our discussion, you will hear how Bob differentiates Sev1Tech through transparency, having difficult conversations, and how he retains his employees – even through all the acquisitions they’ve completed. They even have an employee chili cook off and I would really like to be the judge next year. I don’t know about you, Andy. But I would like to.
Andy McEnroe: In my view what separates Bob from the pack is his focus on integrating acquisitions quickly, building a common company culture across divisions, locations, and operating entities, as demonstrated by the chili cook off, and he’s just an interesting guy with a couple of sayings and ways of life, if you will, that I think our listeners will be excited to hear.
Jenn Wappaus: Absolutely. Now here’s our discussion with Bob.
Andy McEnroe: We are excited to be joined today on Beyond Strategy by Bob Lohfeld Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Sev1Tech. Bob, thank you for being here.
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: Hey, absolute pleasure looking forward to it.
Andy McEnroe: Before we dive into what you’ve been building at Sev1Tech, I’d like to learn about what the mission statement is for Bob Lohfeld Jr. What I mean by that is what are your core values and goals that you set out to achieve for yourself as a leader of a company?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: Yeah. So on a very personal level, the only goal that I really focus on is I wake up every morning and make a difference. Is what I’m choosing to do with the days I have on this planet purposeful? And am I positively impacting the world around me? We have some sayings that have kind of come out of that over the years, which is always “mission before money” and “people before profit.” And that comes from the vantage point of if we wake up and we choose to just serve ourselves, maybe we made ourselves better, maybe at the cost of other people. If we wake up and say how do we make the people around us better? How do we make our communities better? We can make such a bigger impact on the folks around us. And that’s what we really try to do.
From a values perspective, I’m either a very easy or very hard person to work with. Integrity, honesty when it hurts, being brave, and having conversations with people that are meaningful and purposeful, which I think is an art that we need to teach at this point in society. And lastly, always remembering that we all make mistakes.
The question is whether or not we pick ourselves up, we dust ourselves off, and we give 110 percent to drive it to something meaningful. So a lot of the things and values that for me are all about purpose, drive, and really making a difference. And even when those values are hard to live.
Andy McEnroe: You’ve clearly applied those values at Sev1Tech, and you mentioned your goals. How do you go about measuring that in your day-to-day activity?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: Yeah, so couple kind of short term and long term. So in the long term side, what I look at personally, is how many people within the company are we promoting internally? So Sev1Tech has a really bad reputation for promoting people internally, which I think is wonderful. Because we don’t always go to the outside, right? It’s, what do we have inside the company? And if we don’t have someone that we can promote internally, what are we doing as a leadership team, not to fleet up the people around us? Right?
And that’s something that I look at, on a quarterly basis of where is our next generation leadership coming, whether it’s technical, whether it’s managerial, and what are we doing to grow them? And grow them into good, valued leaders, right, because that’s important here. You won’t survive if you just kind of come in and do a lone wolf show. This is not the place to be to collaborate.
Andy McEnroe: We jumped right into it, but any good story any good company begins with its origins. And so prior to starting Sev1Tech with CBP, what led you to want to start the company?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: So have you ever worked for somebody that you absolutely loved working for? And when they were gone, it made a big difference. For me, that was one of my mentors at Customs and Border Protection. I served Customs and Border Protection as a consultant during the datacenter consolidations for Stennis, New York and a bunch of stuff internally and fell in love with the mission.
As a consultant, Project Performance Corp. and then I became a fed. And I had a wonderful mentor in Charlie Armstrong, who was the CIO at the time. But the person that I just absolutely loved working for was Lorraine Landfried. And, you know, at the time I was 38 years old, I had a group that I shared with Jeff Bear, that was, you know, 360 people running around five branches.
I had plenty to do for a 38 year old serving as a deputy director, right? When Lorraine left, she had about 800 people in her group, she went to VA to take on a really huge software division there, which was wonderful for her career. But for me, it just left a gap of who is my partner now in this to help me push when we need to push to think when we need to think and to make a difference, even when it’s difficult. And to really to make that happen in the organization. So when Lorraine Landfried left, it made me really think, “Okay, well, what’s kind of my next role?” And, full transparency, I started going through the process for her job. And then I’m like, I’m never going to make an SES. And unfortunately, I kept getting invited back for more interviews. And I’m going okay, I’m 38 years old, do I really want to be running an 800 person division at 38? Because I was a technologist, I was a data center guy, right? I love everything database and down. I love business continuity. I love the data center operations themselves. I love cloud. I love networking.
You know, I’d like to say I was one of the senior leaders that could still turn a wrench and jump in with the guys. I didn’t want that for my career. So I ended up withdrawing from the SES candidacy program. And then I started Sev1Tech. At the time was kind of a big deal, right? My wife was like, “Hey, this is great.” And when I told her, “Hey, if I take Lorraine’s gig, she’s really good at the strategic stuff and the policy, right, I can go ahead and implement wherever she tells me to hit.” And it just wasn’t for me. And my wife is like, “Does that mean, you’re gonna go to like all those working group meetings where you come home all stressed out?” I’m like, “Yes, that would be my job.”
So it was that, or we start a company to potentially go broke. And we ended up starting the company in 2010. And it has just been an absolute wonderful ride. But if you ask me why I did it, it was to stay close to the technology.
Andy McEnroe: Two follow up questions to that, so we’ll break it up. First, how do you pivot from the technologist to the leader you are today? And two, how long have of a leash did you and your wife give yourselves to start the company?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: So in full transparency, I was a data center relocation consultant for a bunch of years, and I can crush data centers like nobody’s business. Whether we’re virtualizing them, whether we’re just doing efficiency studies, whatever. So I told my wife, like, in a worst case scenario, I could always 1099 myself out. And somebody on the planet will work me to death until there’s nothing left. So I’m not worried about putting food on the table. So for us, it was really about could we build a company that had the same values that I had at CBP, and PPC, and AMS and all these wonderful companies I’ve worked for, which was run whatever you do, like a business, make sure the people around you know that you care about them, and try to make them better.
So we stuck to that we stuck to that and said, “hey, look, this is the mission we want to go on.” Right? People before profit, mission before money. Let’s make sure everything we do we delivers more to our customers. And my wife who is my best friend, and we’ve been together 25 years, was just beyond supportive. And so I didn’t have that if this doesn’t work out in a year or whatever. It was more like you may never see me because I’m going to datacenter relocations around the world, right. But we ended up growing a lot faster than we thought.
Well, let me go back to one because you said technologists, the leader, those people are unicorns. So even today within Sev1Tech, I have some amazing technologists that don’t practice empathy enough to be a great leader. And I have some great leaders that no matter how much training I send them to, will probably never be the person to come in and pitch the architecture. We try to look for those unicorns and identify them early. For me my personal journey, because I came up in the program management and running very technical, large high risk projects. My 30 year reputation is the guy who wants to run towards the fires and take on the projects that nobody else does. Because I find it fulfilling.
It was really that moment where you say, “Okay, I can’t do this anymore.” And for me, it was about 300 employees. At 300 employees, I was still billable, on absolutely wonderful programs that today, if I didn’t have to do leadership, I’d go right back and work on. But it was the company now is too big. You find as a CEO, the company, if you’re doing it, right, it’s no longer about you at about 100 people, right? Because they’re not buying you anymore. From zero to 100, you better be available 24 hours a day, because every client is still buying you to come in and help in some way or fashion. When it got bigger, it wasn’t about that, it was about how do I start building leaders like myself with the same values and start focusing on the processes of the company? Where it gets really scary, is about 500 employees. Because then that’s primarily what you’re doing. At three to 500, you can still dabble a little bit in the technology. At 500 it’s really about the process and the culture. And what are you trying to drive through the company.
So for me, it was really personally hard. The joke was is the only reason I’m not billable is the management team came to me and told me you can’t be billable anymore. And that was in 2017, seven years into the company. There’s one particular project we have in Colorado that I would go work for that customer all day long if I didn’t do this for a living. So now at 1000, I still keep technically relevant. But that’s because of me. A lot of my peers focus more on the financial side and running the business side of the economics. I am still a technologist today, I can still go in and rock a deck. I’m still a consultant. I’m just not billing for it. I’m doing it for my own people in the company.
Andy McEnroe: I’m sure that creates a collaborative environment, though, that fosters the teamwork that has made Sev1Tech unique in the marketplace. I’ve heard you speak about it before. But what are those defining features that make Sev1Tech, unlike other companies in the government contracting universe?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: I think it’s great. So the one thing we call it is Sev1 connectedness. And it sounds a little soft, but it really is. What we try to inspire is communities. That this isn’t a job. If you just want to come in, punch in and punch out and disappear into the woodwork, there are wonderful publicly traded companies that you can go do that at. It’s not here. Here, we want you to engage. If you want to be eligible for a bonus, you’re going to do eight hours of community service a year. If you don’t want to do community service, you probably don’t belong here, because one of our core tenants is giving back to the communities that we live in. And that’s okay, make that choice, but just make that choice and go somewhere else.
The other thing that’s important is the sense of team. So we do a lot of events, with the employees together, that are outside of the meat grinding of the work, to really foster those connections between people and team, right. I mean, kind of the side effects of that is we’ve always had a wonderful, diverse company. Very inclusive. All the stuff that’s cool now, we’ve been doing since I started it. Making sure the employees see each other as people and stay connected, has been part of our DNA.
The other thing that I will tell you that’s a little different than some of the companies I’ve grown up around, is we really do have a long-term view on employees. Early on, we try to identify what we call base clay, which is who really comes into the company with a set of values that we can’t teach, which is if you ask me a question, and I don’t know the answer, I swear to God, I will research it before I go to bed, because it will kill me if I don’t. I can’t teach that. But if you have that, I can build a lot around it. And I can teach a lot around it.
So the identification of what we call rising stars in the company is still very part much part of the culture. The other thing that is a core tenant of values that makes us different, is a concept called space between your ears. And it’s something I’ve said for 30 years. I grew up in DC so I grew up in this big multicultural melting pot that was just different than most people’s experience. And as you travel around the world, you really appreciate that people have very different realities growing up. But in mine, everything that I did was about the space between your ears. Gender, preference, race, where you came from, how much money you had. It never made a difference in my life growing up and it never made a difference at Sev1Tech.
So what we tell people is look, when you come in here, you get a chance to be promoted, not based on anything other than did you do the job. And did you perform. And that has led to this company, and not because we have a program, if you look at my management team, it’s 50% women, 40% minorities, if you look at our company, we have more women leaders than most companies twice our size. It’s because we don’t create those barriers. And we’re very transparent about it. If we promote somebody, and you’re 50, and you don’t like working for a 30 year old, go work somewhere else, or work harder to be better than them. Because if they’re the best, they’re going to get the gig. That is very different here.
The other, I would say value that we have is transparency and being brave about transparency. I share financials with my employees, I talk about the good, I talk about the bad. On my town halls, I leave open Q&A, and it’s not like a punt to HR. You know, we actually answer things on our town halls. That sense of transparency is what helps make everyone better is another differentiator. So driving that culture, I call it my big social experiment is really what it is.
Jenn Wappaus: Let’s shift a little into this. How has Sev1Tech’s culture changed over time as the organization has grown, and you’ve introduced outside equity partners, DFW Capital Partners, Enlightenment Capital, to help fuel this growth?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: So far, I’ve been absolutely blessed. I did something different that most companies don’t do or actually went to a private equity and said, “Hey, I’m interested in you based on the work that you did with III with Steve Eichert,” who’s just a wonderful human. What DFW was known for is just building great companies. And whether that great company grows in 36 months or grows in five years, they’re not like a cookbook, private equity, you know, hey, three years, blow it up, sell it. So they were a good match for me, because honestly, as a CEO, I’m a nightmare for some private equity. I’m all about how do we make these long term investments? Right? And how do we how do we? Yeah, like I’m not in a hurry, right. As long as I wake up and have a place, take a shower. I’m good to go.
So I think, for me, it hasn’t affected the culture because of that relationship. I can still call DFW and not feel like I’m putting on a show where you listened to some of these calls were like, wow, I kind of know that’s not actually what’s happening. I love listening to earning calls and my competitors, because it’s public. And it’s like, that’s really not true. That’s kind of a cluster over there. But for us, we’ve just had that great relationship. So the culture hasn’t fundamentally changed.
What has changed is some of the customs that we’ve brought into the company. So when we bought ESP, we had some amazing folks come in, that were, you know, a different type of culture. It was Army, you know, I’m just thinking, Elvis, there’s a bunch of folks that they just came out of an Army culture, and a lot of them were out of New Jersey, when New Jersey is very different than Virginia.
So some of the things that we brought into the company were just more sort of regional customs that we could say we want to do this and that core value of Sev1Tech never changed. When we did Geocent, so it was based out of Louisiana, Louisiana has its own set of customs. So this year, in addition to doing the chili cook off, which has always been a Sev1Tech tradition, we did crawfish boils, in five cities across the country. We definitely picked the wrong day for this. So we actually brought crawfish boils to Aberdeen, right to our whole C5ISR team. You know, we’re just build out a new office in Augusta. So how do we take what Sev1Tech is going to fund anyways as the employees coming together around something. But how do we do that in a regional way? So the values haven’t changed, some of the things we do have.
Andy McEnroe: How do you ensure that those cultures mesh though, because you’ve got different geographic locations, you’ve got different heritage from the from the two acquisitions? And then you’ve got kind of headquarters here in Woodbridge, Virginia. How do you ensure that all of it blends together to maintain that one culture type approach?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: It’s hard, so it’s really hard. If you ask me what I spend too much time on, is that exact paradigm. How do I keep the feeling the same? Now that we’re in 38 states and eight countries internationally. I think it’s providing some flexibility and how we let those values live out like next year we’re talking about doing a float in one of the New Orleans Mardi Gras. Sev1Tech float. Now it’ll be the only float with eagles and all this stuff that represent the company but taking some of that regionality in it, right a low county boil in Charleston, right? It’s different than a chili cook off but for them, it makes more sense. So I think it’s, it’s hard. But if you let people take those same values, they kind of run with it.
Jenn Wappaus: So let’s talk recruiting and how you grow the business out through strategic hires, because you’re breeding these unicorns here that you have, these employees. But what’s the pitch for why a potential employee should join Sev1Tech over another organization operating in the federal market?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: So I love the question, because I still remember the first two years of the company, I had to convince people to come here. It was kind of the core folks and I in the first year, it was kind of our show, and it was trust us, we can make payroll. And that was kind of the pitch. And we’re fun, because I do have a reputation of being both hard and fun. So now it’s different.
What I tell people is, look, don’t try to figure out if you want to work here. Because there’s enough information out on Google, if you spend 15 minutes, you’ll either decide that the culture of the company is a fit for you. Or it’s not. Because you’ll see employee videos out there about community service, you’ll see employee videos there about, you know, being promoted as an analyst who’s now a vice president within six years simply because they deserve it, how hard they work, and how smart they are.
If what we have, and all my management team members have their own videos about what’s in their Sev1 world, if that resonates, then let’s talk about your career. Where do you want to go? Because maybe we can help you, maybe we can’t, right? But if we know where you want to go, and we know where the company’s going, over time, we should be able to make a great marriage. So getting people to come to the company, really is easy for the people we want to try to attract.
Now obviously, there’s markets that are really tough, right? Like, if you’re looking for cyber with an SCI clearance, I’m fighting over the same but I fight differently. I generally don’t fight on money. Because for us, that’s a secondary driver. I mean, you know, we gave a quarter million when Hurricane Maria came down for medicine for the elderly, right? That came out of our bonus poll. Hurricanes, right. We support those when they come down there. We send people we send materials, and we’ll take a vote as a company, hey, we want to take a piece out of the bonus poll and give it towards this national disaster.
So we compete differently. And what’s wonderful now is if you got on Glassdoor, except for the occasional crazy person, you’ll see that our scores are off the charts, so I don’t have to sell it anymore. They can just talk to the employees and say, “Yes, this is different.” I’ve seen people get promoted internally. And the sense of belonging that we’ve created, I think makes us different, but it’s hard. A thousand employees is hard. And as we get to 2000, I’m losing hair over how do I keep scaling.
Andy McEnroe: And you continue to scale across markets. You mentioned the C5ISR division, you continue to do work for that central customer and CBP that you came from, you’re doing work in space, you’ve got IT modernization capabilities. What’s next in the evolution of Sev1Tech?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: So with Geocent, we actually brought in a capability that if you asked me in 2010, I’d never think that we would have. We have an amazing group of scientists, PhDs and engineers that are doing astronomical type work, aerospace engineering. The thesis for us with Geocent acquisition was let’s bring science into the enterprise because we’re great at talking customers about mission, but we’re not really good on the science side of their business. So one of our guys, you know, was one of the lead architects on the shuttle motors. The other guy is designing cube sats.
We have a bunch of folks doing space exploration. We’re really excited about the Artemis launch. So where Sev1Tech was always space defense. You know, satellites is where most people know us, right? We’re in a bunch of different satellite ecosystems, both commercial and warfighter. Now, bringing in space exploration to our commercial space business. Space is a dominant theme for us going forward. Because now we’re not just working on the imagery and alerting side of the business. Now we’re working on payloads and getting things up and out of the atmosphere.
The other one that I would say is a thrust for us, going forward, is C5ISR domain. So again, with Geocent being Navy focused on the C5ISR business and our Army division, which does phenomenal work in tactical radios, tactical radars… It’s really brought a C5ISR theme to the company. How do we leverage what we’re doing across those two divisions and the military, and quite frankly, how do we take that to our commercial business?
So I see us kind of doubling down on space. You know, it doesn’t mean we’re not doing DHS because we’ve been in DHS forever and we love that client. We love that mission. But the chemistry right now for us to have exponential growth is in space. Whether it’s you know, we support Space Force, we have pieces of Air Force, we have a bunch of commercial aerospace customers, we have NASA, the space portfolio for us is coming together. It’s kind of cool.
Andy McEnroe: Jenn touched on organic through strategic hires. And Bob, you mentioned your employee development program. What about on the inorganic side with DFW and Enlightenment, as tailwinds for you? Are there acquisition targets market areas that you’re looking to acquire your way into?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: Right now, with Geocent, we have just a wonderful, you know, even larger management team and even larger talent pool of just really amazing people. So if you asked me what I would look for in an acquisition, it would probably, you know, we do have a business problem in that I’ve never doubled down on one service like, hey, let’s just be the C5ISR guys, because to me, it’s probably my own, I guess, like have different types of business and learning and living in different environments. But I’m very interested in getting into some more sectors of law enforcement, some additional sectors in the satellite business.
And I’m also selfishly, I guess, interested in doubling down on our IT modernization work. It’s no secret that Sev1Tech is known as the engineers company, right? I mean, we do massive modernization projects. And in my opinion, we do better than anyone else, because we’re vendor agnostic, and we’re not in everybody’s pockets, we just do what’s best for the client, we do it quick. So I think that’s another theme where we could see some acquisition right now, I don’t have any targets that I’m, you know, I’m drooling over where I’m ready to roll. But in this business, you have to be opportunistic, because if something comes along, that’s meaningful to the company. We’re all on.
I guess, the one thing that I would say is we don’t go after every book that comes to market, because the values have to be there. Geocent and Dr. Bobby Savoie, who’s now my partner in the business, I mean, it’s weird, like we keep the CEOs when they’re good. And you know, we integrate their management team in with ours, and we just had such a kindred spirit on values and people and technology. And you know, Bobby’s passion is for the science side of the business, which is great. My passion is for the IT modernization side, right and satellite side. So very complementary, the companies that we will acquire going forward, will share those same values, they will have that same feel and you know, at the 300 to 500, employee level, you still see a lot of those founder CEOs that have great companies that fit what we do.
Andy McEnroe: Yeah, I’ve heard you speak about it before. It’s not really acquisition as the way I was describing it. Its partnership, its merger. It’s two winning cultures, and two winning organizations coming together to find common success.
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: Yeah, I always tell people, I’m Bob the Builder, not Bob the Destroyer. And if I can’t see that I can sit with these people and go “God, some of them are better than the people that are already in the company.” Or wow, you know, “I’d let these people watch my kids for the weekend,” I won’t strike a check, I won’t ask DFW strike a check, it’s just a different philosophy. I want to work with the people that I want to work with.
Jenn Wappaus: So as we progress towards the end of our time today, I’d like to pivot towards life lessons that may be additive to the towards the audience. So what’s one lesson in your career that you think everyone should learn at some point?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: So the first thing that I think about every day, and I would say is it probably was not until my 40s that I really appreciate it, it was time. We don’t get the time to go back. If there’s a difficult conversation, don’t wait to have it. If there’s a difficult choice you have to make, not making it is as catastrophic as whatever the outcome it could be. And you will never get a chance to unwind that time and do it over.
So for me, again, back to purposeful, what am I doing today to make a difference? And the stuff that I may naturally want to try to avoid? Why am I not hitting it head on in training yourself to just wake up and be fearless. Wake up, make the decision, move forward. We call it fix forward at Sev1Tech. Make a decision but my God don’t make it is probably the most important lesson learned because I see a lot of people that I’ve worked with over the years that are a whole lot of fun, but they don’t advance in their careers. Or if they advanced they end up on a turkey farm over to the left on a special project. Think that nobody knows what it is. It’s so special, right?
The leaders that I enjoy are the ones that are pretty fearless about making decisions and making the tough ones. I mean, people always say, “Oh, you know, your employees love you, and they have so much respect for you.” And I think it’s because they see me make the hard decisions. Right? They see me not be sheepish about the decisions I’ve made. And quite frankly, take the time to explain it to them if they ask, you know. I know you guys love this person, but here’s why they’re not here. And I’m happy to tell you why. Or hey, I know you really thought this person should get the promotion. But here’s why I picked this person. And that fearlessness and not avoiding difficult conversations, I think is the key to culture. Because if you can teach people to be honest with each other, when it hurts when it’s a little bit of risk, yes. Right. It just is it makes it better environment. It’s really hard. It’s really hard. I always say you can sleep on it one night. And then after that, you need to freaking go and take a decision.
Jenn Wappaus: And not making a decision is making a decision.
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: Yeah. And at five o’clock, if I go, “Hey, I just need to go home and go to bed.” Everyone knows I’m about to make a big decision right?
Jenn Wappaus: Now we know.
Andy McEnroe: We’ve touched on it kind of throughout the interview, the balance between work and family, you mentioned your wife and your kids earlier. How do you balance those obligations for those of us like myself that are in awe of all that you’ve achieved professionally.
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: It’s not easy. So I’m married to my best friend. We’ve been together 29 years, we were married 25. She was our CFO till 2019. So I had a competitive advantage in my marriage in that my wife understood and really thought people working 80 hours a week was normal. So in 2019 when Denise joined us as our new CFO, my wife went part time. I have three kids, I’ve got 17, 16, and 12. We split it up, and we work it. I travel every other week, which is you know, what I have to do to run the company.
My wife never gives me a hard time about that. But I’m always present on the weekends. So I have a technique that I recommend everybody do. I don’t carry my cell phone on Saturday. So I find people whose marriages are struggling, are mainly because we’re not present and focused for our partners. And we have become slaves to the technology, that’s while it’s wonderful, makes us think differently, makes us focus differently. And quite frankly, takes away from the human experience, in my opinion. And I know I’m a technology guy, but this is what I believe.
So what I tell people is 7am, you can check your phone for 15 minutes, if there’s nothing burning down. Right? You are not to carry it until 7pm. And if you have to carry it, you absolutely cannot look at your email. If something is going on, whether it be personal or professional, they will call you if there’s really an issue. But damn it, take that day and focus on your family, whatever family looks like for you. Be present in the moment and be meaningful. And to me, it sounds stupid, one day of really just saying to the person you’re with, I love you and my time is yours, makes up for anything you can do. Same thing with my children, right? So you know, when my week here, I’m running around dropping off kids to karate, wherever they’re all going right. Now I have one that drives now, which is awesome. But you know, I’ve done Girl Scouts, I do everything. But everybody knows on Saturday, the only way you’re ever going to get me is if you call me because I’m not going to look at it. Because that’s my time to put back into my family. And it does work.
If you’re ever like, “Oh my God, my spouse is driving me crazy.” Try not carrying your cell phone for a day and see how your perspective changes about the person you’re sharing your life with. I mean, that’s incredibly impactful, and maybe a challenge for our audience to at least do it for one Saturday. Try it. Yeah, well, everyone’s like, “Oh, I can’t do that.” I’m like, “Well I run a 1000 person company and I can do it.” Yeah, if you can’t do it, then you probably have the wrong people on your team. Right. And if they can’t do it, they probably haven’t done enough with their team. So figure out what the root cause is. But if I can do it, anyone can do it.
Jenn Wappaus: And it speaks to your culture at the company and at home.
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: Like if there’s an issue with my family. My mom is not going to send me an email. So why do I need to check my email every five minutes, right? She’s gonna call me. I don’t always pick up the phone, but not look at email.
Jenn Wappaus: So we end all of our interviews with maybe the most imperative question that we ask. What’s the most important thing that we should know about Bob Lohfield?
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: That 90 percent of the planet really likes me. The other 10 really don’t like me. So, I’m an acquired taste. So, I think the most important thing about me is I really view life as this journey where we’re here to make a difference. I don’t believe any of us are smart enough to challenge anybody on what happens afterwards, because I don’t know many people that get the afterwards, come back, and tell me what’s going on.
So, I try to focus on what can I do here? What can I do here every day when I wake up to make a difference? And that is why, you know, even sometimes when people approach me at events and networking events, I’m not like the chatty, let’s just talk about like something random. I don’t TikTok. You’re not going to tweet your way to me and tweet and everything else. I like purposeful dialogue. Because even when I’m at a networking event, I’m thinking, you know, who are the people that I really want to talk to?
So typically, you’ll find me off with like two, three people having a very meaningful conversation, instead of the butterfly person. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just with me, it’s not that I’m being rude. It’s great if we want to talk about a very uneasy topic for like, a couple of minutes. Yeah, then I’m going to be like, “Okay, let’s shift to something more interesting.” Like, tell me what you think of this. So I am kind of a deep guy. Come with good questions.
Andy McEnroe: Yeah. Well, obviously a great story thus far in the evolution of Sev1Tech. A lot of horsepower still left in the tank, though, and a long way to go.
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: I’m only 50. So I figure if I’m gonna be working for the next 15 years, I might as well work with the people I already like so.
Andy McEnroe: And I wouldn’t be surprised if you get a lot more networking, Happy Hour approaches now, just to talk about the no phone Saturday policy.
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: I’ve saved many marriages with that. Including my own.
Andy McEnroe: Bob, the Builder, CEO and marriage consultant. Bob Lohfeld, CEO of Sev1Tech, thank you so much for joining us today.
Bob Lohfeld Jr.: Thank you guys for the opportunity. It’s been wonderful and appreciate your partnership.
Andy McEnroe: Well, that was one heck of a conversation with Bob Lohfeld, Jr., CEO of Sev1Tech. I really liked the Saturday no phone challenge. Is that going to come into effect in the Wappaus household?
Jenn Wappaus: Absolutely. I think that I’ll try my best. I don’t know if we’ll be able to do it.
Andy McEnroe: It would be a big fail for me for sure.
Jenn Wappaus: It’d be a little difficult, a little difficult. But we’ll try.
Andy McEnroe: I hope we get to have him back for another conversation because it felt like we could have gone on for hours but the insight he had into how to run a business, how to grow a business, how he leveraged his private equity partners, and then how he worked to establish a common culture was just tremendous and I think could be applied to any organization across the National Capital Region.
Jenn Wappaus: Absolutely. I’d love to have him back.
Andy McEnroe: Well, special thanks to Bob Lohfeld, Jr., once again for joining us. And a reminder to all you fans out there to subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcasts. For Jenn Wappaus, I am Andy McEnroe, thanking you for joining us and remember to tune in next time for another edition of the ACG National Capital Region podcast, Beyond Strategy.