Meet Gabe Abshire, CEO and Founder of Utility Concierge
Gabe Abshire has found success through a willingness to take chances and work toward the next big thing. His company, Utility Concierge, is consistently a growth award winner. Always an entrepreneur, Gabe is restless and seeking his next challenge for the company.
Growing up in Port Arthur, Texas, and southeast Louisiana, Gabe is a southern guy. After high school he did not have a plan. The dream of playing golf in college did not happen as he planned. Gabe was able to spend 3 months visiting an exchange student that he has become close to (and is still very close to today). He remarked that this was one of the most impactful experience of his life. It showed him just how big the world is and that he had so much to see, learn and experience. The world is your oyster is what his grandfather wrote in his graduation card, and he saw this on this trip. Coming back from Italy he again did not have a plan but he knew he had to get out of the small refinery town of Port Arthur.
As fate would have it, Gabe followed one of his close friends, who had been at the University of North Texas already for a semester on a football scholarship. Gabe had a long college career joining a fraternity where he made made lifelong friends. Most of his learning was outside of the classroom. He was the Intrafraternity Council President and served on his fraternity leadership council as well. He also waited tables at Medieval Times in college. He finally graduated, continued to stay in North Texas, and began a job selling satellites. For a few years, he was the company’s 24/7 phone dialer and answerer.
Gabe’s boss, the company owner, lived big. However, on a trip to Mexico, one that Gabe was supposed to have also been on but didn’t make, the boss was shot and killed. “Wrong person, wrong place, wrong time,” explained Gabe. The man was estranged from his family, so Gabe made burial arrangements and worked through the legal concerns.
“I had a choice to close the business and go find something else,” said Gabe. “But I purchased the business and took it in a different direction.” He started doing installation work for Dish Network and DirectTV. It was unusual to work for competitors, and it was less sales-oriented than before. Technicians were the mainstay rather than a salesforce.
Within a few years, Gabe added a home security company to the corporate umbrella. This new business needed sales exposure, so Gabe and a team began marketing and networking, particularly in the real estate industry. It reignited his natural talent for sales.
As the satellite company continued, both DirectTV and Dish Network provided statistics on installation success. He really dig into the numbers as found that new customers often weren’t able to get their power switched on or over to their name fast enough, and when the satellite techs came, there was no electricity or no TV because it was still in the moving truck. Sometimes customers weren’t home when technicians arrived.
“We realized that moving and setting up home services are stressful. No one was helping to set up all home services,” Gabe said. “It was 2009 when Utility Concierge was born. “We changed the pitch from send me your client and we will sell them tv and security to send us your client, we’ll help them with all of these connections and issues. Real estate professionals would give our services away as a value-add service to their clients. Our offer was that we know the moving process inside and out, communicate openly and honestly, make the headache go away, and give customers the power of choice to select any provider.”
That is how Utility Concierge started. By 2010, Gabe started hiring more people and adding more services to deliver in the promise of the power of choice. Gabe had been inspired years earlier by the book Tipping Point, where he learned the best companies are most valuable without the founder in it. This inspired him to always hand off jobs ASAP to his techs in the early days of the satellite company and also with Utility Concierge as he put people in the right seats.
With Utility Concierge up and running, Gabe read a book called Traction that he found through EO connections. “I finished it on a plane and felt like the author had been following me for years. I’d been the visionary and the integrator. It doesn’t work long-term. I found an integrator within a month.”
With the new leadership structure in place, Gabe and his integrator rebuilt Utility Concierge through most of 2015. From 2016 to today, the company has grown 50% annually. “If someone asked me what’s the biggest benefit of EO, I would tell them it was being introduced to Traction.”
Also in 2009, Gabe and his wife, Veronica, had their first child. Andrew is now 12. Daughter Renee followed soon after, and she’s 11. Gabe is happy and proud to take his family around the world, giving them experiences that have broadened their perspectives, just as he learned the power of experiences right out of high school. He work hard in putting the right people in places so he can take himself out of the business as much as possible.
But even that has its challenges. “There’s this emotional thing that comes from your business working without you,” Gabe said. “It’s like, Am I really doing enough? Am I taking care of people enough? Did I really get to where I am because of me? I mean, what if my boss hadn’t gone to Mexico that day?” However, Gabe looks to his corporate culture and sees his mark everywhere. The company has been named one of the top places to work for several years running.
In EO, Gabe has been on the board of directors for three years. First, he was the Accelerator chair and then went on to the Learning Chair position for two years in a row. He’s attended many events and is a proponent of the organization. He recommends that his fellow members “jump in with both feet. Get in Forum, go to events, join committees and boards, be open and honest and vulnerable.”
When Gabe is not at Utility Concierge, he’s traveling the world, skiing, golfing, hunting, and spending time with family and friends. Often with Gabe, family and friends become synonymous. He’s loyal and nonjudgmental. Once you’re friends with Gabe, you’re friends for life.