From MHS home ec room to NY Stock Exchange
OUT OF THE BLUES
by Maggie Boyle Judi
On most Wednesday’s, as her kids were growing up, Connie Allred would take the day off from her Silver Scissors hair salon in Monticello and make a big, special, and delicious lunch for her kids, Dain, Darrin, Chance, Tori and later Zach.
The lunches were big family-style meals featuring delicious meals like crab, or shrimp cocktail and steak. Each of the kids could bring a friend home from school with them during lunch hour.
Connie would serve, and eat with her kids and their culinarily-lucky friends. It was a day away from the stresses of her successful business, a time to show her children how much she loved them in that traditional motherly way, a time to get to know the people her children called friends.
For Chance Allred, it was a small but important part of the idyllic childhood that he enjoyed here in San Juan County. A time to socialize not only with friends and neighbors, but also with his hard working Mother.
Connie and Eddie Allred instilled in their kids those all important hardworking small town values. This began for Chance when he was only seven years old, at 5:30 in the morning.
Back in those days, the people of Monticello still received their milk via delivery truck. Remember the old metal boxes that sat in everyone’s garage?
Eddie rallied his sleepy-eyed boys twice a week, loaded up milk at the dairy and spent the next few hours unloading it for its final destination: the breakfast bowls of hungry Monticello-ites. The Allred boys spent a good portion of their childhood this way. Working together.
It was the first in a catalog of jobs that prepared Chance Allred for a life of business entrepreneurship. He worked in many Monticello institutions, for Suzy Peebles at the delicious Wagon Wheel Pizza, at the Snow Cone Shack, the tire shop, mowing lawns, cleaning the beauty shop, Texaco, and the legendary Trailside.
Some of these jobs he held at the same time! “A jack of all trades, master of none,” jokes Allred. He also remembers participating in a small town staple, wood hauling.
“We hauled 20 loads of wood a winter and even as we got older and my dad replaced the wood burning stove with a gas one, he still had us get a couple of loads, just so we could have some work to do.”
All this hard work became like a reflex for Allred and so when the opportunity came to start his first business at the tender age of 16, it never once occurred to him that he wouldn’t succeed.
Around the spring of 1995, Chance and his good friend Carley Garner decided to develop their own clothing brand from a logo designed by Garner.
It was called Chubbe and featured a graphic of a smiling sun. The duo went to Larue Barton’s Home Ec room at Monticello High School and asked to use the brand new embroidery equipment for their production.
“There are not very many Home Ec teachers in the world that somebody says, ‘Hey we want to start a business and run it out of the Home Ec room, here’s how we’re gonna do it,’ and then she just says, ‘Ya, I’m going to sign up for that!’”
But that is exactly what LaRue did. “There were times when I couldn’t fulfill orders and she would stay up late and help me fulfill them,” said Allred of Barton.
More than anything she made a big difference because she allowed her students to take a risk and learn the mechanics of business and the motivation to make it work.
“But most importantly,” Allred says, “she was like a mentor and she believed in me.”
Allred took his business plan for Chubbe and while still in high school, entered the Utah Young Entrepreneurs contest and came in second place.
That experience, coupled with a winning team at Utah Business Week, planted the seed of passion for sales. Those opportunities presented to Chance at such a young age, solidified his future choices and his career as a businessman took off.
He began in Cedar City at Southern Utah University selling alarm systems for Apex and it’s creator Todd Pedersen in the summers.
Chance was one of the top salesmen and the next summer he began recruiting salesmen. He was the sales manager over a different major city each year.
Many of his salesman were from Monticello or Blanding. (In fact Chance has three Monticello natives working for him as sales managers around the country. Taylor Eardley and Gentry Ramsey in California, and younger brother Zach Allred in New York.)
Eventually Allred left Apex to start his own alarm company called Platinum, which took off at lightning speed, and then almost as quickly found its demise.
In 2012, an investor cast doubt on Platinum’s potential. The investor was accused of creating a Ponzi scheme in a business unrelated to his dealings with Platinum, but because he was such a large investor, the fledgling company took a hit they were unable to recover from.
It was to be Allred’s trial by fire. He remembers a meeting where he got in front of the 600 employees to tell them their jobs were gone and why they had to close the doors of their business.
“I was expecting bitterness and even hatred towards me for letting them down. It was the hardest thing I have ever done.”
Redemption came in the form of his old boss and new competition. “Taking care of them (Platinum employees) was the most important thing for me. They reacted with understanding, love and respect.”
So Allred called Todd Pedersen (who was by now the founder and owner of Vivint) to ask for advice and help. “(Todd) took care of all these families that I loved so much. He gave them a home and and a new career.”
The livelihood of 600 employees was spared when Pederson offered them jobs at Vivint. And then six weeks after securing employment for his former employees at Platinum, Vivint called him with an offer to help them with a brand new idea.
It was, says Allred, the “prodigal son who left and competed against them coming home type thing.”
They had begun a solar energy division named Vivint Solar and needed a VP of sales. In the three years since Allred began working for Vivint Solar, the company has gone from an awesome idea into a $1.5 billion valuation, as well as going public on the NYSE this past fall.
The business drive that started out as a love for the success of making money and competing turned into something he considers much more valuable, the passion of seeing the power of success in the lives of his employees.
Similar to the mantra of Vivint Solar to change the world one solar panel at a time, Chance Allred wants to change the world too, but for him it’s about changing the world, one sales team at a time, or more specifically one salesman at a time.
Allred has taken his early experience with LaRue Barton to heart and is himself helping to turn regular people into hugely successful business men. He also wants to give back to the beautiful little town at the base of the blues that gave him so much in his formative years.
Chance Allred will donate $10,000 to Monticello High School for business or entrepreneur programs. He wants to inspire local students to find their passion and believe that they can take big risks and find big success.
Allred puts this philosophy to work at Vivint Solar every day, teaching and mentoring new salesman in much the same way that his home ec teacher at MHS did 20 years ago.
He says, “Believe they can do something great, almost expect it and they will probably live up to it.” This sentiment he learned from Mrs. B has served Chance Allred well.