The premier service provider for removing sand, grit and residuals from submerged conditions and hard-to-clean infrastructure
U.S. Submergent Technologies CEO Denver J. Stutler tells a simple parable to explain the patient approach he has taken since he co-founded the company.
“I’m cautious,” said Stutler. “I try to pause and reflect and appreciate. We climb and camp in life, in whatever journey, personal or professional. We climb, and sometimes it is a longer climb. And then we camp, and it gives us a chance to reflect on the new vista.”
USST's willingness to stop, look and learn from key moments has allowed the company and its CEO the chance to better understand its place in the market while developing a vision and values to define its brand. This has helped USST grow in just seven years from the home of a compelling new technology into one of the Top 50 Florida Companies to Watch, according to the economic development group GrowFL.
Instead of sticking to the technology's original purpose and simply using it to clean pipes, USST is revolutionizing the way sand, grit and other organic material is removed from critical and difficult-to-reach wet infrastructure. Rather than selling trucks costing $1 million to build and even more for customers to buy, USST chose to leverage its intellectual property by adopting a new business model. The goal changed from performing the role of equipment supplier to building a national branch model service company.
“I was asked to participate in helping bring the technology to market,” said Stutler. “I understood conceptually what that meant, that it is not an easy journey to bring a product to market. But this product had the potential of being a new mousetrap. I witnessed it doing some things that I thought had real value…When we restore and take a yard of sand out of a tank, we have saved (the customer) thousands of dollars of bricks and mortar they don’t have to use to replace that capacity.”
As a branch model service company, Stutler sees himself as more than just a CEO. “The truth of the matter is I am the branch manager for our first branch, which is located in Florida,” said Stutler.
The CEO title is the latest in a distinguished career highlighted by Stutler’s service as Chief of Staff to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush from 2003-05. He then served as Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation beginning in 2005. Lessons learned during Stutler’s time in the public sector have helped to inform USST's foundational values.
“Our values are oriented towards service, focusing on the problems of others rather than just our own,” said Stutler. “I see it as a huge responsibility…We have a value proposition that is real and can be measured in bricks and mortar. We have a team that has coalesced around a set of values, a purpose, and to me it is a promise we are making to our customers.”
“Working with Gov. Bush, I had the privilege of witnessing a lot of leadership qualities. Having a plan...Sticking to the plan. Having a vision. Being patient. Incorporating the views of others. Being about offering solutions. Remembering even when something isn’t our fault, it is still our problem. That is an important attitude. It goes a long way in business and in life.”
Every experience along the way for Stutler had an influence on USST's values and mission statement.
Stutler’s work in the public sector helped USST recognize its own obligations as an organization.
“A lot of the times business thinks government is being obstructionist," said Stutler. "I don’t look at it that way...Dealing with government as a regulator or as a customer, you have to be patient. They are going to do their due diligence because they are using public funds and public resources. They have to be accountable for them. Business needs to build that into their own processes rather than asking government to change theirs.”
The relationship between USST and McDonald Hopkins was also born out of a bond Stutler built during his time on Gov. Bush’s staff. While he served as chief of staff, McDonald Hopkins' Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez, Managing Member of the firm's Miami office, was the governor’s general counsel.
“We solved a lot of problems together,” said Stutler. “Rocky is a brilliant mind, an unbelievable problem solver, and she is tenacious and reliable."
“We had a local law firm when we first got started, and they were helping us with the basics. But then we found ourselves, almost by surprise, faced with litigation. When you are in a crisis, your instinct is to seek survival. For me, in that situation, there was only one phone call I was going to make. Rocky introduced me to (McDonald Hopkins intellectual property attorney) Todd Benni, and brought in her team…They were smart, they figured things out, they asked great questions. They cut to the quick. I am extremely proud of my relationship with Rocky and I am just as proud of the people I have known and met at McDonald Hopkins. Our company is enormously grateful to them.”