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Todd Pedersen

Vivint and Undercover Boss: Lessons learned

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen wasn’t “fast enough” to work in one of his own warehouses, was “moving a little slow” on an installation job and should have been more adept at handling a basic tool, according to two of his  employees.

Pedersen got those professional reviews during his stint on the CBS show “Undercover Boss” on Feb. 20. I wrote about that here. During that experience, he says, he learned much about being a company leader and that “details matter most.”

For the popular reality show, Pedersen posed incognito, which included wearing a wig, as a Vivint trainee and met with four of his company’s employees at their workplaces.

First he worked with Mark on an install job that involved being up on a roof. That encounter enlightened him on the need for Vivint workers to have proper, non-slippery footwear.

He then worked with a monitoring center rep, Sandy. Pedersen, handling a call, disconnected it inadvertently. During one call, static was prevalent and Sandy told Pedersen that the system needed some fine-tuning.

On his third stint he worked at one of the company’s warehouses with Alma and was surprised when he had to fill out a work order on paper rather than digitally. Alma is the employee who told him he wasn’t suited to work for Vivint: “Too slow.”

He also was told he was working too slowly by employee Will during Pedersen’s final “Undercover Boss” gig at a smart-home installation. And, Will added, Pedersen needed practice working with a basic tool—a drill.

When I talked to Pedersen before the show aired, he couldn’t say all that much about the outcome of the show due to CBS restrictions. But I did catch up with him via email this week to get more details.

Here’s what Pedersen had to say.

Q: What was the top lesson you gleaned from being on the show?

A: As a leader, it’s your job to look at the big picture and focus on the vision of the company, but I learned that when it comes to employees, the details matter most. The smallest upgrades in equipment and installation hardware can shave off significant amounts of time and stress for employees. Little things really do make a big difference to the people you employ.

Q: How will the show have an impact on the way your company is run/managed in the future?

A: After each day on a new job [for the show], I would get on a conference call with senior management and discuss what I learned and potential improvements pertaining to that job. And while the experience hasn’t changed the way we run the company in a major way, we have made several changes in equipment and processes. 

The most significant change we implemented was announcing a brand-new facility for our monitoring professionals. As I worked alongside Sandy, she had interference issues with her equipment. In addition to improving phone cords and headsets for Sandy and her coworkers, we decided to give them a beautiful new facility. 

Q: Any other insights? Would you do this again?

A: The most interesting part was just being able to work alongside my employees as a regular guy, rather than the CEO. I truly enjoyed getting to know each of them on a personal level and learning about their backgrounds and the things they’ve overcome. I’ve always believed in cultivating strong relationships with my employees, and this experience reaffirmed the importance of that for me.

While not every executive has the chance to go undercover like I did, taking the time to work side by side and connect with employees is important for all members of the leadership team. I plan to give this opportunity to other executives so they can benefit from the invaluable insight that comes from being on the ground. (Although, I won’t make any of them wear a wig!)

I don’t think I could get away with going undercover again. Word has definitely gotten out around the company, but I did really enjoy going out in the field and working with employees across the business. I would definitely do that again, and I’ll probably take some of our other executives along with me next time. 

Pedersen also heard the four employees’ personal stories and responded to their hardships—widowhood, bankruptcy, cancer treatments, custody disagreements and more—with compassion and with his wallet. Kudos to him.

 

 

Vivint boss goes undercover

TV show experience offers insights
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02/18/2015

PROVO, Utah—Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen’s incognito stint on “Undercover Boss” prompted him to make some “tweaks” in his business, he said.

Vivint set to close Washington state sales center today

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06/27/2014

PROVO, Utah—Vivint last summer opened a new 400-employee sales center in Liberty Lake, Wash., suburb of Spokane. Now, barely a year later, the home automation/home security company said it was closing the center as of today.

Vivint launches own panel, own platform in new solution

Vivint Sky not the limit—Vivint’s goal is to ‘control anything and everything’ in the smart home; Vivint beta testing Internet service as well
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06/10/2014

PROVO, Utah—Vivint today launched Vivint Sky, a new cloud-based smart home solution featuring the company’s own control panel and software. The company anticipates a gradual migration of its more than 800,000 subscribers over to Vivint Sky from the 2GIG Go!Control panel and the Alarm.com software that they currently use.

Vivint partners with LifeLock

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04/10/2014

LAS VEGAS—Vivint, a leading home automation/home security provider, and LifeLock, a provider of identity theft protection services, announced a partnership at the ISC West show here that will give Vivint customers the ability to bundle their new or existing Vivint packag

Vivint Solar gets new CEO

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09/05/2013

PROVO, Utah—Greg Butterfield has been named the new CEO of Vivint Solar, the residential solar integrator announced in a Sept. 5 news release.

Vivint to open new sales center in Washington state

The door-to-door company looks to diversify by growing inside sales 75 percent this year
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06/26/2013

PROVO, Utah—Home automation/home security giant Vivint is opening a new 400-employee sales center in Washington state, part of a move by the door-knocking company to diversify itself by increasing inside sales.

Vivint CEO encourages entrepreneurs to pitch ideas

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05/14/2013

PROVO, Utah—A group of 10 Utah County-based startup companies competed to win $4,500 in cash and a chance to sit down with Vivint founder and CEO Todd Pedersen, according to an article from the Daily Herald, a newspaper based here.

Vivint CEO buying golf course, becoming developer

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vivint has been in the news a lot since it was acquired late last year by the Blackstone Group for more than $2 billion. But the latest scoop is actually about the CEO of the Provo, Utah-based company, Todd Pedersen. He’s about to buy a golf course in nearby Orem and turn it into a housing development where he and others will live, according to the Daily Herald, a Provo-based newspaper.

But Pedersen also will give 20 acres of the property back to the city for recreation, the report says.

The paper says the Cascade Golf Center has been in business 45 years but has announced this year will be its last because it’s being sold to Pedersen for a residential development. The paper quotes Keven Stratton, Jr., who runs the family-owned golf course, as saying the economic downturn and competition from new golf courses have made business difficult.

Here’s more from the newspaper's March 21 story:
 

Todd Pedersen acknowledged Wednesday that he is in a business arrangement with the Strattons on the sale of the lease and is going through due process and will eventually come to the city council for approval. Pedersen's proposal would give him land to develop low-density homes -- approximately 12 to 15, with his being one -- but he would return to the city approximately 20 acres of land worth $7 million in fully developed parkland, sports fields, with infrastructure, parking, bathrooms and more.

"My wife and I have lived in the valley and we want to do something that most residents can enjoy," Pedersen said. "I want to make sure for the city management that the best uses will be made for the most citizens."

Pedersen knows many golfers in the community will be unhappy losing Cascade and he understands how they feel.

If Pedersen's proposal is carried through it will bring approximately $300,000 in property tax revenues to the city. He said that more than replaces the $450 a year the city receives through the Strattons' lease. Because the property is zoned R1-12 the plan Pedersen is proposing complies with the zone.

Cascade Golf Center opened in May 1968 after the city agreed to lease property to the Strattons until 2060. A second-generation owner, Stratton purchased the golf course in 1989 from his father and other partners. The construction and operation of the course has been privately financed. …

… The 53 acres owned jointly with Orem City along with the majority of the 67 acres of privately owned land that make up Cascade Golf Center are being sold. That includes the miniature golf course, the driving range, the small orchard east of the range, the Valley Course or lower nine and the back nine.

While the price of the property and the lease's selling price have not been disclosed, it is no secret that Orem and other developers see this as prime property, possibly worth as much as $200,000 an acre.

 

Vivint CEO named 2013 entrepreneur of the year

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02/28/2013

PROVO, Utah—Todd Pedersen, co-founder and CEO of Vivint, has been named the 2013 entrepreneur of the year by MountainWest Capital Network, according to an article from The Digital Universe, a campus newspaper at Brigham Young University.

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