Bet It All & Live Fearless - Ryan Niles

Ryan is the Founder, President, and CEO of Niles Industrial Coatings in Fenton, Michigan which he has led for close to 21 years. NIC is a best-in-class safety, coatings, and technology company focused on commercial and industrial painting across North America. As a serial entrepreneur, Ryan has founded and led multiple companies in the home building, commercial scaffolding, commercial services, and investing areas. Ryan is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Medical Technology and is currently in the Harvard Business School President’s Program. Ryan is also a member of the Young President’s Organization (YPO). Fun fact, Ryan and I both graduated from Grand Blanc High School, where I was a year ahead of him, so this was fun for me to connect with an old friend. I respect Ryan’s business intellect and how he leads by example, with humility and authenticity, and putting his people first. He has created a unique learning culture within his company and is having a noticeable impact on his community. He is an incredible husband and father who leads with character and integrity and knows how to live life to the fullest.  You will enjoy this conversation, so let's jump in! 

Show Notes:

4:00 – Ryan begins by sharing his origin story. He shares his experience growing up in a family business and why he wanted to leave to chart his own path, leading into why he “took the leap.” He says that his father encouraged him to get out of the family business and pursue something more “stable.”
9:00 – Ryan talks about his experience being laid off from his job in 2002 and the emotions and lessons that came with that. He then begins to start his own business but struggles to get his family to get on board. With the support of his dad, he gets his new business started.
Quote: “I see consistently that at your lowest point at your darkest hour in life, generally, that's when the seeds of your greatest successes are being planted and people just have to have faith through those dark seasons.” – Bob
12:00 – Ryan states that he wants to raise his kids to be fearless because he feels that fearlessness is what built him.
13:00 – Ryan shares how his wife supported him in the “unstable” parts of his career and how his dad’s partnership impacted his life and career. 
15:00 – Rod breaks down the biggest pivots that he made and how fearlessness played into those, one of the decisions being joining YPO. How important is it to him to protect the fearless trait within him to grow and manage his business? 
Quote: “It amazed me. When you really want something, how much you can get done.” – Ryan
19:00 – Ryan delves into his business endeavors with his dad, where he experiences extreme risk-taking. He emphasizes the importance of having high trust with your partner, the power of negotiation, and the efficiency that comes with valuing people and caring about the customer.
Quote: “I think it [the margin] improved more from the culture and what we did once we started investing in the people and our equipment and that's what drove the margin not the pricing, and I think people miss that so often.” – Ryan
26:00 – Ryan shares how he views risk and why he leans into it. Ryan says that recognizing his gift of connecting the dots and being aware of things around him helps him to take risks. He shares that he takes risks when he has fully thought them through and trusts that he understands the risk that he is taking.
31:00 – Ryan shares that his secret power is his ability to pick up the phone to ask questions and be open to opinions and viewpoints. How important are different points of view and perspectives when it comes to decision-making?
34:00 – Ryan talks about his upbringing and struggles with not feeling naturally smart. He talks about the importance of finding your gifts and leveraging them. He says that having humility is vital when realizing your gifts and weaknesses. 
37:00 – Ryan shares the ways that he helps his team find their giftings and lean into them to help them get joy out of what they are doing. He states that teaching his team to understand themselves is the starting point as well as accepting that everyone is a different kind of leader.
Quote: “Our purpose is to unlock potential.” – Ryan
45:00 – Bob emphasizes that it all starts with asking the right questions to unlock value.
47:00 – Ryan delves into what “Niles Industrial Coatings” is doing and the notable projects that they have done and are currently working on. He states that their focus is bringing better solutions to major corporations.
53:00 – Ryan sheds light on the truth that you are going to fail. Why is it important to not always follow the status quo but to be looking for new territories to expand to? How do we learn quickly and recover quickly?
56:00 – Ryan shares why he identifies his company as a “technology company.”
59:00 – Entrepreneurship and business leadership comes with obstacles and sometimes “life or death” decisions. Ryan goes back and highlights times of crisis in his career and shares how he navigated these times.
Quote: “Things are never good forever, things are never bad forever.”
1:10:00 – Ryan dives into his family life and how he has been able to build balance in his life running a company and being a family man. He is honest and says that it is a life of extremes– a lot of business time and a lot of family time.
1:15:00 – Ryan shares his favorite family traveling experiences.
1:18:00 – Ryan shares the main takeaways from his YPO trip to Italy, mainly about family businesses.
1:20:00 – Ryan talks about what motivates him and excites him about his work every morning.
1:25:00 – Lightning round questions.
1:27:00 – Final question: “If you were going to give the State of the Union address tonight and have the opportunity to talk to the entire country, what would you say?

Creators and Guests

Mitch White
Mitch White
Freelance Audio Engineer, 2011 Recording Connections Certified Audio Engineer
Tristin White
Nashville Fellows Program 2022, Marketing Assistant for Affinity Technology Partners, Professional Photographer freelancer. Go VOLS!
Bet It All & Live Fearless - Ryan Niles
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