5 Questions With An Expert: Herbert V. Johnson

April 19, 2021

Herb Johnson
Herbert V. Johnson
Founder & CEO HVJ Associates

1. Starting with some background about yourself, can you share what type of work you do at HVJ and what you find most interesting about it?

From a young age I noticed a real strength in owning a business, recognizing true opportunity in that, so earning my B.S. and M.S. in Engineering at Mississippi State University was a means to achieving that goal.

From my garage in Sugar Land, TX, I started HVJ Associates just 7 years after college, and I am inspired daily by the experiences of serving others in competent ways as I lead this company. Business is a spiritual game that involves both growth and contribution, and I find this both personally and financially rewarding.

2. What is your role at HVJ, and what is your favorite type of project/work?

As CEO of HVJ Associates, I prepare the company vision and determine how we play the game of business by assembling critical resources to engage opportunities in the market in ways that benefit our stakeholders. In 2016 we developed and pioneered a truly innovative, trailblazing first in this country-- the Franchise Business Model for the delivery of professional engineering services. We currently generate annual revenues of $35 million system-wide, so my work at this level is more about strategy and less about operations.

3. What are the common types of problems that your customers are trying to solve? What do you think draws them specifically to HVJ?

We help customers identify their real challenges, and truth be told, it’s 80% psychological and 20% technical. We understand the issues of our clients, we add extreme value, and we deliver on our promises. Our brand focuses on government contracting, primarily at the state and local levels, maintaining critical engineered infrastructure statewide. We have a healthy relationship with challenges, and problem solving is what we do best. That’s what attracts customers.

4. One of HVJ’s promises is a commitment to on-going learning. What resources or training opportunities have you found to be most useful? What tips do you have for keeping up to date with on-going education?

I can sincerely say HVJ is a learning organization, and we credit our quality communications and impressive performance to this. We have benefited from executive coaching since the early 2000s and advisory boards and mentors since the late 90s.

The firm is deeply engaged with continuing education and professional development through the Institute for Generative Leadership, The Alternative Board and Tony Robbins Mastery University. Ongoing education is not optional but essential. If you’re not learning or growing, then you’re atrophying and certainly not being competitive. 

5. HVJ describes itself as being built on service. What does service mean to you, and what keeps people coming back to HVJ? What are your tips when engaging people for the first time?

Effective service is visualizing in clear terms, challenges or opportunities from our customers’ perspective. The old saying, “value is in the eye of the customer” is true. Hubris is a professional’s worst enemy, because you just don’t know what’s best for the client unless you really listen and build rapport. Then you’ve got diagnostics and articulation. Trust must be established. We do quality engineering--that’s a given, but we love our customers more than our product. As I said, business is a spiritual game where you focus on personal growth and that of your team. That’s what enables extreme contribution to stakeholders. We love our customers, and this is why we have a raving fan base with a Net Promoter Score that is consistently above 75. 

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