The Evolution of Diesel Laptops - The DL Episode 24
In the latest episode of The DL, Diesel Laptops Founder and CEO, Tyler Robertson, is joined by Riley Owen, the Director of Operations at Diesel Laptops. Though he is only 24 years old, (note: he was still 23 when the podcast was recorded) Riley has the distinction of being the longest-tenured employee of Diesel Laptops. He was hired at the age of 19 in August 2015.
Ambition is a Strong Word
After highschool Riley didn’t know exactly what he wanted to with his life and had very little ambition. According to him, he was doing...
“Absolutely nothing. I’m sitting at home. I’m playing World of Warcraft for about 16 hours a day. Going to sleep, then waking up and doing it again.” - Riley Owen
Of course, Riley did more than just play video games. He had a job at a local pizzeria and eventually enrolled in a tech school. His very loose plan was to get an associate’s degree in Computer Programming then eventually transfer somewhere else for a four-year degree.
Riley’s mother just so happened to be in a book club with Tyler’s wife, where she learned that Tyler had just started his own company and could use a hand packing orders. She told Riley about the opportunity and he wanted nothing to do with it.
Though he was not interested in taking the job, at his mother’s behest he called Tyler, who gave him the job immediately. Riley showed up late the next day and continued showing up late for the first year. He admits he has no idea how he didn’t get fired.
Tyler saw things differently though.
“The cool thing is, I saw the ambition in you right away.” - Tyler Robertson
Tyler was busy with sales and marketing and just wanted Riley to help with packing orders. However, working at the same dining room as Tyler, Riley had been listening to Tyler’s sales calls every day, learning the ins and outs of the business. Before long, Riley asked to help with sales calls.
“I was super lucky being able to be around you, so close. I made sure every sales call you had, I listened. I picked up a lot from that. So I think at some point I was confident enough to say I think I’ve absorbed enough, I could probably make a call or two.” - Riley Owen
Let me put you on hold
Riley admits his first few calls were very rough. Each time he was asked a question to which he didn’t know the answer, he just said “let me put you on hold” and then asked Tyler for help. Spoiler alert, Riley did not make very many sales in the beginning.
After gaining a few months of valuable experience, Riley actually did get the chance to redeem himself from one of his earliest sales call failures. As he describes it, he had a customer whom he had failed to make a sale with call back after a few months. This time he made the sale and the customer, oblivious to the fact he was talking to the same salesperson, paid him this compliment:
“I’m glad I talked to you because the guy I called a month ago had no idea what he was talking about.” - Riley Owen
Evolution of Diesel Laptops
Riley and Tyler both admit that the early days of Diesel Laptops were much simpler times. They both also look forward to five years from now when they can look back at these current times as being simple.
Several years into the business, Diesel Laptops is faced with copy cat competition every day. Many competitors see Diesel Laptops succeeding in the market and try to cash in, with a goal of making money, rather than fixing problems. According to Tyler, that is an error in thinking.
“People don’t buy a product because of what your marketing is. They don’t buy it because you had a pretty picture. They really buy it because they believe in your company and why you do things. I think that’s part of what we’ve gotten across to a lot of people. I’m just here to solve a problem and that problem is fixing trucks more efficiently.” - Tyler Robertson
That is where Diesel Laptops continues to evolve, by solving more and more problems that face the heavy-duty truck and off-highway industry.