An extraordinary business is one that prioritizes ethics over profitability, honesty over subterfuge, accountability over immunity. FSG strives for success in terms of prosperity, but more importantly in delivering to the customer. FSG demonstrates they are knowledgeable, committed, dependable, and mission-oriented. The individuals within a company are truly what tell the story of the organization to the people outside, whether that is to an existing customer, a potential affiliate, or a future employee. The employees serve as a vessel for the company’s core values.
Chris Wills is a third-generation electrical contractor who serves as the Director of Project Management at FSG National Accounts in Dallas, Texas. Raised just 45 minutes west of Dallas in Fort Worth, he recalls being around electricians from a young age. His grandfather, Clyde Wills, opened the doors to Wills Electric, a local electrical contractor, in 1940. The figures that made the largest impressions on Chris were those inside of Wills Electric, including his father, Ed Wills. Chris enjoyed working around his grandfather, father, and the electricians while at nine years old, he sometimes earned ten cents an hour sweeping the floors of the shop. He found joy in spending time in the Wills Electric environment. After high school and while attending college, Chris joined his grandfather, his father, and later his brother, Lee Wills (who is now the Director of Pre-Construction Services for FSG Dallas) in the family business. After 56 years of operation, Wills Electric closed its doors in 1996, but Chris did not leave the electrical construction industry.
Chris was introduced to FSG in 2004 by a friend of his father’s who at the time was working for FSG Fort Worth. Although there was not an available position for the Fort Worth or Dallas divisions, Mark Mitchell, one of FSG’s Executive Vice Presidents, sent Chris to interview at FSG National Accounts for the role of Project Manager. After this interview, Chuck Hill (now FSG Technology’s Department Manager) called Chris and offered him the job. On his second day with NAC, Chris was on a plane to meet a customer regarding a 400 site rollout for the installation of energy management systems. At the time, National Accounts was significantly smaller than it is now, consisting of roughly twenty-five or so employees.
Chris brought his own, very unique way of doing things to FSG. Through his organization, his dedication to the customers and the business, his knowledge of the industry, and his highly principled work ethic, Chris has contributed greatly to the success of FSG National Accounts. Reflecting on what has brought him the most success, Chris mentions his personal principles of owning his successes and failures, practicing open and honest communication, and ultimately doing the right thing. He acknowledges that there is strength in admitting one’s faults, as there is very little margin for error in this industry. Chris recounts a time early in his FSG tenure when he hesitated in bringing an error on his part to the attention of his manager. He is grateful for the grace he was shown, and has worked to make the most of this second chance ever since. This experience exposed the value in self identifying mistakes because regardless of the issue, the culture of NAC is that of a team, and everyone is always willing to help. Open communication and providing solutions to the customer’s needs are vital to the FSG-customer relationship. The quote from the 1987 box-office hit, Raising Arizona, “Don’t tell us what you think we want to hear, because we just want to hear the truth,” summarizes Chris’ rule of thumb.
The Projects team that Chris has helped build is one in which he has extreme confidence and pride. He unequivocally communicates his expectations during the initial interview process, explaining the importance of the driving principles. Although they are not directly involved in sales, the members of the Projects team are virtually selling through their performance and relationships with their customers. When seeking out viable candidates for the National Accounts’ fast-paced and demanding environment, he finds it is best to speak candidly about the job. Chris says, “National Accounts is unique from other FSG divisions in that the hours are constant, with crews working overnight on sites in every time zone. After the crews finish their shifts, the job continues in the office, addressing the needs of the customer with updates each morning. This makes it a little difficult to find the right fit.” He explains that while he expects a lot from his team, he reiterates that they are there because he knows they can deliver. “When looking back on the ridiculous things my team accomplishes along with the amount of money their work contributes to FSG’s bottom line and overall success, it’s hard to imagine how I would get things done without the rock stars on my team,” Chris says.
Beyond his team, Chris attributes his success to the drive and belief system that was instilled in him by his parents and grandparents, coupled with the trust and tools provided to him by FSG’s founders, Bill Graham, Bob Graham, and Steve Byrne. “To me, FSG is hands down the best company that I have ever been a part of. Bill, Bob, and Steve are three of the coolest men I have ever met, and I owe each of them so much for giving me the opportunities they have. Opportunity is what FSG is all about. A culture like this attracts the best and brightest, which is one of our greatest assets.” Chris cherishes the relationships he has built during his time with FSG. “Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to visit most of the FSG branches, and I’ve developed key relationships and friendships with a number of people around the country. The fact that we manage work all over the US and Canada gives us opportunities that most people aren’t lucky enough to have. I’ve spent time at their homes, broken bread with their families, and gotten to know them on personal levels. The people are most definitely the best part of FSG.”
As of late, NAC Projects has been focusing on delivering lighting and electrical rollouts for their customers. Looking toward the future, Chris hopes to expand into more solar projects. Reflecting on his role within the company, Chris believes his purpose goes beyond the duties of his job title. “Promoting the greatness of FSG and NAC to our customers and everyone else I encounter is a substantial part of the job. Other divisions, suppliers, and affiliates are all part of our success, and I appreciate and promote each of them every time an opportunity presents itself.”