September 2, 2013

2013 40 Under Forty: William R. Simpson

Simpson

TITLE: President, Smokestack Lightning Inc.

COMPANY LOCATION: Brookfield

RESIDENCE: Brookfield

FAVORITE MOVIE: "Kill Bill"

FAVORITE BOOK: "A Game of Thrones"

Career highlights:Helping bring a company from $70,000 in annual revenue to $750,000. I also rappelled off the site of the Massachusetts State House during a lightning-protection installation. Also, receiving an MBA from Babson College before my daughter turned 1 year old.

Community involvement: I served on the town's cultural council for six years, the planning board for a half-year, the master planning committee for two years, and municipal facilities planning committee for two years. I also founded the nonprofit Friends of the Brookfield Town Hall in June 2012 to raise money and support to bring our treasured but ADA-inaccessible building back to full use.

Biggest success: After building our new office, I looked around and realized we had developed a team of good, competent, hard-working people. It is a great feeling when we get letters or calls from customers, saying that our installers were excellent to work with and they will recommend us to everyone they come into contact with.

Biggest challenge: Trying to figure out how to expand the company beyond the $1-million revenue mark, and determining how much we could grow beyond that point in a small niche industry, and in which direction. Another significant challenge is learning to be a manager after being an installer, bookkeeper, salesman, estimator, web designer, and ground rod hole digger.

Mentor: My father, who started the company after two decades as a chimney sweep. He taught me the value of honesty, learning everything about what we do and getting things done. He taught me to treat others kindly and to balance work, home and civic life.

Hidden talents: Playing music (fiddle, guitar, upright bass and drums), singing, rock climbing, home remodeling, woodworking, blacksmithing, apple-pie baking and basketball.

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