Gulf Coast Western CEO, Dallas-based Matthew Fleeger, on Visualizing Success
Matthew Fleeger, the CEO of Dallas’ Gulf Coast Western and a dignitary in the oil and gas industry, is a businessman of many successes. Before acquiring said success, Fleeger jumped through the obligatory hoops that all industrious entrepreneurs do. While attending Southern Methodist University, Fleeger amassed sufficient knowledge on finance and marketing. After graduating, Fleeger was poised for success. Fleeger’s father, the successful owner of an oil and gas company, served as Fleeger’s inspiration as he plunged into business pursuits. Fueled by his enterprise and ambition, Fleeger ventured into the business world with his entrepreneurialism in tow.
For seven years, Fleeger hopped from job to job in the hopes of obtaining substantial experience in his domain. Given his leadership skills, Fleeger excelled in executive roles. While he assumed some entry-level positions, Fleeger rapidly ascended through the ranks. Though numerous Texas-based companies were champing at the bit to bring Fleeger on board, he eventually decided to work for Gulf Coast Western, his family’s business. Fleeger’s stint at Gulf Coast Western proved rewarding, but his entrepreneurial leanings inspired him to embark on his own endeavor. In 1993, Fleeger founded MedSolutions, a company responsible for the disposal, treatment, and management of medical wastes.
While at the helm, Fleeger led MedSolutions to industry success. Over the course of 14 years, Fleeger held the title of CEO, president, and director. Come 2007, Fleeger was approached by Stericycle, an organization keen to acquire MedSolutions. After some tough negotiating, Fleeger sold MedSolutions for $59 million. When Fleeger parted ways with MedSolutions, a job at Gulf Coast Western was waiting for him. His experience as a founder, CEO, and master negotiator made Fleeger the perfect candidate for President of Gulf Coast Western, a position he still holds. From budding entrepreneur to renowned tycoon, Fleeger’s coming-of-age story truly inspires.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
My father opened the business in 1970, I took it over in 2007 and did an asset acquisition of another oil company to expand our client base and funding capabilities.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I get in the office around 08:45 after I drop my children off at school, which is a personal time I truly value. It is the most motivating factor that makes me want to continue to succeed in business. I spend the first hour prioritizing the day, then start to address the mission-critical items first and work down from there.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend that excites me, is the innovation and American ingenuity taking place in our oil industry. The advancements in technology have created opportunities and efficiencies that weren’t there even five years ago.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have always been a proponent of creating task lists. I write everything down I want to accomplish then prioritize my goals before I start. This allows me to focus my efforts and see the pace of my progress throughout the day, week or month.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to find a work and life balance earlier. My wife gave me a gift one year, and I truly live by it now. It was a sign that says” Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”. I believe Dolly Parton made the expression famous.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
People are inherently lazy. I believe it is important to approach my team from a myriad of motivating angles, this helps to avoid perpetuating disengagement.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I visualize a positive outcome first, then create a path to obtaining it second.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
My strategy was simple. I would grow my business around honesty, integrity, and creativity and I expect the people around to be the same way. I believe that my clients appreciate the first two parts the most and the latter is exciting and fresh for everyone involved. I comprise different types of joint ventures with diversification, transparency and always having the integrity to put my money in it as well. I believe in what products I make available and the only way you will continue to grow is these three principals.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I was focused on expansion in the beginning and it led me to make an asset acquisition that only seemed good on the surface. When I suspected it was not as I perceived it, I shut it down and cut my losses. I continued to do my due diligence which allowed me to unravel it before it caused any more damage to my company.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The book that I would recommend is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I truly believe these principals still apply today and are a good foundation for success.
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