As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Vinny Lobdell, Jr. who is the President of HealthWay Family of Brands, a family-owned company that offers advanced air purification solutions for residential and commercial spaces around the world.
Vinny Lobdell attended Oswego State for 4 years focusing on Marketing and Economics. Later, he received an entrepreneurial masters in partnership with the Entrepreneurs Association at MIT. Over the past 20 years, Lobdell has developed a passion and expertise in Indoor Air Quality. He has traveled to 50 countries educating and speaking to industry leaders, governments, and medical professionals on air pollution and the harmful effects of occupying our built environments. Lobdell took a leadership role as President at HealthWay Family of Brands in 2008 and soon thereafter, HealthWay was named to the Inc 500 list of fastest growing companies in America.
Today, HealthWay is recognized as the global leader in air purification solutions and builds portable and engineered modular, scalable options for residential and commercial spaces. In 2017, as a response to growing end-consumer demand, Lobdell co-founded Intellipure, a leading B2C brand with a heavy emphasis on customer experience through handcrafted, high-efficiency, individually certified air cleaning systems.
Over the last 16 months, HealthWay and Intelllipure have been proudly called on by NYC Health and Hospital, Atlantic Health Systems, The U.A.E. Ministry of health and hundreds of corporate clients to assist in getting people back to work safely. HealthWay remains committed to the Central New York Community and to fuel the global demand, has hired 70+ employees and added 50,000 square feet of additional manufacturing space globally and breaking ground on a new corporate office in July. HealthWay under the leadership of Lobdell is on a mission to “Reimagine the world as a better, safer place.”
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
My father, Vince Lobdell, started working in the indoor air quality industry over 30 years ago with the mission of improving a product category that was desperately in need of innovation. I grew up watching him work with individuals and businesses and got to witness first-hand how improved air quality positively affected people’s lives — from providing allergy relief to removing the smallest most dangerous ultrafine particles.
Watching and learning alongside my father instilled in me a passion for educating people on the benefits of improved indoor air quality so, after obtaining an entrepreneurial masters in partnership with the Entrepreneurs Association at MIT, I began educating and speaking to industry leaders, governments, and medical professionals on air pollution and the harmful effects that come along with occupying our built environments.
In 2008 I took on a leadership role as President at HealthWay Family of Brands and soon thereafter, HealthWay was named to the Inc 500 list of fastest growing companies in America. Since then, we’ve hired 70+ employees and added 50,000 square feet of additional manufacturing space globally and breaking ground on a new corporate office in July..
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I’m not sure if I have a story that will earn a laugh, but I do have an approach to mistakes and failures. To me, it’s all about the process and the realization that life is seasonal — nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems. You’ve probably seen the charts about personal growth that depict how things aren’t linear — simply put, our lives don’t work like the markets. Continue to endure and grow and in 30 years I believe that you’ll look back and realize that success is a culmination of all the experiences, good and bad, that led you to be the person you are today.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. What it really helped me do is understand self-reflection. In any business you’re looking at the future while standing in reality — I needed to understand how to reflect and how I use that to interact with others. At times, we need to forget about our failures and continue to be impactful for others. From my perspective, nothing is really ever as bad or as good as it seems.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
We truly believe that life is measured in service and what you give to others. No matter where we’ve been, success or otherwise, we always measure our success by how we give back. In Pulaski, where our HQ is, we’ve redeveloped properties and locations throughout the local community — take a look at the Kallet Theater, which is now a local mainstay for events. Ghandi really does ring true for me: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Now, to help our employees better understand the vision that my father and I observe, we’ve coined the phrase, “We’re reimagining the world as a better, safer place.”
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Number #1 principle — tough times never last, tough people do. Our struggles are what define us. What people do in the time where things are difficult really shows what they are made of and what they are capable of achieving. When there’s a larger distance from the bottom and the top, there’s more to show for the process.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Sadly, we lost grandmother very early on due to COVID and it was a big challenge because no one could visit or see her. I also felt the struggles every day with my team here in Pulaski that had difficult hardships. Many had critical losses that hurt both us and our community. Also, we saw many friends that operate medium and small businesses struggle or go out of business — seeing them struggle was difficult, but it backed many lessons that I learned at MIT, and Oswego, that life is very seasonal — life is never as bad or good as it seems.
One of my top professional achievements is really doing something that matters — we live by the mindset that if you’re not making an impact, you’re wasting your time.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Time. Trying to manage a family, children and a growing team with the backdrop of a global health emergency. There are no off hours — you’re dealing with how to solve critical challenges across the globe with limited time and finite resources. It was perhaps the most disruptive supply chain of all time, and we were adjusting as often as hourly for many months. Knowing that our air purification solutions are going to places that really need them keeps me up at night and wakes me up early.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
One thing that I offered is steadiness and confidence. During this difficult time, people really needed a solid presence — an unwavering component of their lives that didn’t change when everything else was. Change is difficult for most, so I’ve stayed steadfast — even when the world wasn’t. I truly felt that at this point in my life and in my career, I could be the consistency that they needed.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
There’s a major paradigm shift that was happening before 2020, that was expedited by COVID. What surrounds us matters — building operators and leaders are now shifting from building efficiency and sustainability to the health and wellbeing of the occupant. I believe you’ll see more solutions that accommodate both rather than one or the other, but the microscope will continue to be on the wellbeing of the occupant for a few years. Following this trend, I think we’ll see tremendous innovation from HVAC, construction, materials, etc. — designed specifically for creating healthy spaces for occupants. Finally, seeing is believing and low-cost indoor air quality monitoring has come to the marketplace which will give all of us the ability to see indoor air quality and provide with data to make improvements.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
For the immediate term, I believe that we’ll see continued digitization of communications and processes in all forms of business. In addition, the role of facilities management and engineering will be much more heavily relied on and trusted due to the paradigm shift in health and wellness of built environments.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
For us, there’s a great deal of misinformation out there. Part of indoor air quality is understanding the environment in which you’re serving. Not all challenges are the same, so not all solutions are the same. We plan to employ and expand our business., both at home and abroad, with a program and effort to help people learn about their space and understand the built environment in order to make real changes that improve air quality. For the first time, there will be a complete customer experience from education of IAQ to real resources and an easy roadmap to a solution. Once a solution is implemented, we’ll go even further by offering monitoring using IoT for real-time IAQ indicators.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
There’s tremendous pent-up demand in tourism, hospitality, and manufacturing — anyone willing to innovate has a lot of opportunity to make a difference. For young adults coming into the workforce, there’s a great opportunity to create a new and improved world that is better and safer for us all. Go out and learn, fail and work hard. The world needs you.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Ghandi
I’ve just found that giving back to the community and raising all ships — it’s just the best way to go through life. I’m not sure how to live otherwise. It’s part of my family and part of our way to life.
How can our readers further follow your work?
I love to share stories on LinkedIn, at LinkedIn.com/in/vinnylobdell/ — there you can find the efforts my team and partners are working on across the globe to make the world a better, safe place.