ServiceExperts™ is a series of contributing articles from recognized industry professionals offering their thoughts, viewpoints and opinions on the latest trends impacting the service industry. With a passion for building successful teams and creating positive experiences, Gyner Ozgul has achieved significant success and growth in his career by empowering teams to succeed. He has over 25 years of experience spanning service, technology, and supply chain roles. Gyner has served in various leadership roles, including 13 years at Ecolab and 7 years at Smart Care Equipment Solutions, previously serving as President and Chief Operating Officer. He is currently the CEO of Perimeter Roofing, the highest quality roof repair and replacement services in GA, TN, FL, and AL.
Gyner Ozgul embodies what it means to be a next-generation service leader. It’s not uncommon for many service leaders to start out in the field as an engineer, then working their way up the career ladder to the VP or C-suite level. Ozgul’s path was a little less conventional.
A son of two immigrant parents, Ozgul started working at Burger King at the age of 16—a job that was close to home so he could walk to each shift. He went on to spend 10 years at the fast-food chain, leaving back in 2003 as a Regional Director of Operations. Meanwhile, he received an English degree at Lewis University—a degree that he credits as critical to his success as an executive and communicator.
Following his employment at Burger King, Ozgul spent 13 years working at Ecolab as a District and Area Manager, then Director of Parts Sales Operations and Supply Chain. From there, he transitioned to a Senior Vice President of Operations, and later COO, at Smart Care Solutions—a commercial food service, refrigeration, HVAC and cold storage equipment services company.
Gyner has spent 31 years working in service organizations and is now CEO at Perimeter Roofing. In this article, we capture his viewpoints on what it means to be a next-gen service leader, what the career path can look like and where the industry is headed.
Did you catch our podcast on LinkedIn live with Gyner Ozgul? Listen to a replay wherever you get your podcasts (Spotify, Apple Podcast) or visit our website: servicecouncil.com/research-library/podcasts. You can also watch a new episode of the InServiceTM Podcast live on LinkedIn every other Thursday.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a next generation service leader?
For me, it’s about building a winning culture.
In the last 20 years, “company culture” went from being a buzzword 20 years ago, to being something that employees look for. These days, you have to center yourself around what your organizational culture is going to look like—whether that’s your social mission and your conviction around that, or more about the work you actually do. We have to pay a lot of consideration to that and make it tangible for our teams if we’re going to build a successful service organization.
Further, service leaders of today are all particularly challenged for talent: where do we find it, how do we onboard, train and retain our workforce? To build a culture of service you have to look closely at the frontline. The turnover that’s happening at your organization can tell you what you need to improve and where. Take a look as well at your hiring process. How do we improve the manager’s interaction or the recruiter’s interaction in the hiring process to bring on the right candidate that fits your culture and your skill needs?
Also, do not shortchange your team onboarding. It’s easy to do, but you pay for it in the long run. It doesn’t do your culture any favors and it doesn’t do that new employee any favors. Muscle through the challenges of working through the team that you’ve got and give that person a great onboarding experience. Long term, it’s best for everybody.
Q: When it comes to being a great service leader, we know that navigating cross-functional collaboration barriers can be a challenge. In fact, it’s the number three internal challenge reported by service leaders, according to our 2024 Services Leader’s Agenda survey. What tips do you have for dealing with cross functional collaboration?
You always have to lead with what your vision is. I start with creating a value creation plan or strategy for the overall business. From there, you take that plan and sit with all the leaders of those functions—sales, operations, etc.—and say, “Here’s how I’m thinking about the business. Help me make this better. Help me change it or take things off my plate that you think are wrong.” Get everyone in the room to collaborate and set ground rules around that.
From there, set priorities that you can all agree are important to the success of the business. At this point it becomes their plan, not mine. Then, when new items are introduced or friction between those silos starts to happen, I remind them that we all agreed on how we’re going to communicate and they’re violating a tenant of agreement to work with each other.
I’m also a very live communicator. I had a rule for many years that once the email hits three replies, it probably means you should get on the phone to talk about it. The communication is starting to break down where this is becoming an email string. So I still believe live communication and asking lots of questions is one of the most powerful things we have as human beings.
Q: Another important dynamic of being a next generation service leader is your approach to technology. Do you want to be an early adopter, trailblazer, or fast follower?
I want to be a fast follower that trailblazes thinking about technology differently. I like the technology itself to evolve to a point, but then I’d like to step back and say, “How can I make that different, or better or unique?”
Data is going to unlock a lot of value in this business. And for those of you who don’t believe it or think it’s a blinking light, you’re going to get left behind. Even if you look at something as simple as ChatGPT, if you haven’t used it, you should. I like to think of it as an example—the brilliance of a tool like that will tell you what the power of data will be very shortly in our industry. I’m starting to put together use cases of how I can use AI that’s unique to the roofing industry. Those are the things that we’re going to have to think about as service leaders going forward.
Embrace the data and the technology, because whether you like it or not, it’s going to force its way into service. But it can seem very overwhelming. So start small and network with people that are in the technology space. When you see demo opportunities online, take them. Even if they don’t seem relevant, you’ll learn something and you’ll take it away.
Q: You’ve encountered many successes—and a few pitfalls—over the course of your career in service. What words of wisdom can you offer our community to overcome those pitfalls?
There were dozens of initiatives that failed that I tried, but with failure came an opportunity for me to learn something and also teach the team something we shouldn’t do going forward. Embrace the failures. Try to get them out of your system faster. Usually, you know if an initiative is failing. Quantitatively, the metrics tell you. Your gut tells you qualitatively, and usually when those two things are aligned, it’s a pretty good sign that it’s not working. So don’t try to force anything. You’re going to make mistakes, so learn to identify them and don’t beat yourself up.
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