He has owned four businesses in four different states in establishing himself as a successful Internet marketer, business coach, and entrepreneur.
And through all of his achievements, Bryan Trilli has never forgotten the lessons he learned growing up in Fallowfield Township and the Mon Valley.
Trilli's primary mentors and influences include his parents, Arthur F. Trilli Jr. and Barbara Trilli of Fallowfield Township. His father is president of Culligan Water Systems of Star Junction, the company founded in 1947 by Bryan's grandfather, Arthur F. Trilli Sr. of North Belle Vernon.
“My first job was working for my father at Culligan when I was 13,” Trilli, 30, said. “Quite frankly, I didn't like it. It was always hard work. But, that was a lesson I needed to learn. My father has been a business owner for 30 years, so I was familiar with small business growing up and the most important aspects of that – honesty, hard work and constant learning.”
On one of his numerous Internet blogs, Ethicalbusinessbuilder.com, Trilli recalls that his father taught him the most important factor in success is your mindset. His father “was always imparting axioms and witty sayings on mem (ory)” Trilli recalled.
These included “Your life is what you make of it,” “You can't control what other people may do to you but you can control how you respond,” and “You're the only one who can choose what your day is going to be like every morning when you wake up.”
“Obviously those were all paraphrased and there were certainly dozens more, all of which have had an impact on me over the years,” Trilli said.
His mother offered more personal advice, said Trilli, a 2000 graduate of Charleroi Area High School, where he was class salutatorian.
“Mom has always been about caring for others,” Trilli said. “Whether it's her five children, other family, kids she taught, special students she works with or how she greets new people with a hug instead of a handshake, my mother taught me that money and material things are of little importance. You put both of my parents' lessons together and you get business savvy with virtually no fear of failure. After all, if you fail you still have family, friends and faith, so how bad could it really be?”
Trilli also credits his job as a news carrier for The Valley Independent with providing sound business lessons.
“Having a newspaper route taught me about money management and customer service,” he recalled. “Every entrepreneur should have a paper route as a kid.”
Trilli didn't set out to become an entrepreneur or Internet marketer. Instead, his plan was to become an automotive engineer, which is why he chose to continue his education at Kettering University in Flint, Mich., where he received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering with a specialty in engine simulation with cum laude honors in 2005.
“Kettering had a mandatory co-op program from the very first year which allows you to get real world experience alongside getting an education which was a process I loved during my senior year at Charleroi when I worked at Duquesne University,” Trilli said. “Their alumni are a veritable who's who in the auto industry, it's a Top 5 mechanical engineering school and, like me, most students are relatively obsessed with automobiles.”
After experiencing a few engineering co-ops at Kettering, Trilli realized “corporate America and having a boss for the rest of my life just wasn't for me. The goal I had from high school of working for DaimlerChrysler even became an option when I received an offer to work at one of the most efficient production facilities in the world. It was an alliance between Chrysler, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi to build engines. At the time, personal issues prevented me from accepting the position however I don't regret it for a minute. God had other plans for me.”
“At some point, I realized that you can always make more money but you can never make more time, and being an entrepreneur allowed me to structure a lifestyle focused on putting time first,” he said. “Beyond that, as a business leader and entrepreneur I would have more power to directly influence the lives of others than any other career choice. Every time you sign a paycheck, hand it to a team member, and thank him for his hard work you're reminded of the blessing it is to provide an opportunity for someone to support his family. When my team helps grow the businesses of our clients through measurable, effective Internet marketing you get to see how you directly improve the lives of so many people on a daily basis. With positive feedback like that, who wouldn't want to be an entrepreneur?
“But I didn't just wake up one day and say, ‘You know what, I think a marketing business is a good idea,'” Trilli continued. “When I owned my businesses I worked with ad agencies and web designers but never understood why they could never tell me with any certainty what marketing would generate leads. Online I learned you could quickly and cost-effectively test marketing ideas, offers, wording and calls-to-action that could then enhance all of your marketing. Over time I got pretty good at it and other businesses found out about this unique approach to measurable results. Ultimately a few other Culligan dealers asked me to help do for them what I was doing for myself and from there it took off.”
Trilli purchased and sold three other companies before launching Optimized-Marketing.com in 2011.
“Buying a business has a much higher likelihood of success and is generally easier since you already have cashflow,” he said. “Optimized-Marketing.com is so exciting and interesting that most of the time I forget I'm even working. Every morning I wake up, walk across the hall to my home office, and just start playing. The trick is building a team of people who have the same passion for helping small business owners improve their marketing. So far we've been able to do just that even if the four of us are all located in different states.”
Trilli describes a positioning strategy as the “place you occupy in the minds of your prospects and customers.”
“As a start-up (business), you have the awesome power to define that position from scratch,” he said. “For an existing business you need to know your current position before you can plan how to change it.”
He said his expertise and experience in information technology, mechanical engineering, technology consulting, small business management, and a bit of business brokerage led him to starting his own Internet marketing business.
“But first, I had to understand what would make my business and team unique,” he said.
His younger brother, Greg Trilli, who received a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2008, became Trilli's first full-time team member at Optimized-Marketing.
Although Bryan Trilli lives in Farmington, N.M., his company is completely web-based and has team members in four different states. They have clients “from Boston to San Diego,” Trilli said.
Optimized-Marketing has been named a finalist in the Best Start-up, Fastest Growing (less than 10 employees) and Most Innovative categories for the 2013 Business Excellence Awards announced by ActionCOACH, the world's top business coaching firm and sponsor of the competition.
The awards honor the “best of the best” results in small- and medium-sized businesses from around the world and showcases exceptional results for business owners, entrepreneurs, their teams and their companies. Winners will be announced at the BEC ceremony at the Red Rock Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Jan. 25.
“I'm amazed and humbled by my team being considered for three national awards,” Trilli said. “Last year at this time I was just getting started on my own. I feel the nominations are a distinct reflection on how much we're turning the status quo of marketing for small business on its head. When you deliver results, and even stir up a bit of controversy, you can really turn some heads.”
The Business Excellence Awards also are meaningful to Trilli because Brad Sugars is founder and chairman of ActionCOACH.
“I greatly respect Brad Sugars as the greatest entrepreneur of the last century,” Trilli said. “I've met him a few times and the idea that his organization selected Optimized-Marketing as a finalist for these awards is quite an honor. It is almost like having Michael Jordan tell you you're a great basketball player.”
Trilli is no stranger to recognition.
The summer after his junior year at Charleroi Area High School, he began working at Duquesne University as a systems administrator.
Duquesne University presented Trilli with a Special Recognition Award for his work in the school's Computer Center internship program.
As a student at Kettering University, he had a work study position to help cover expenses that were not part of his scholarship.
He also had co-ops with Shiloh Industries in Michigan and Ohio and KDS Moses, Inc. in Wisconsin.
“KDS provides business management software for the water treatment industry, which is where I really started to learn about small business,” Trilli recalled. “I visited and helped over 100 business in North America improve their operations with better technology. Ultimately I bought out a portion of one of our customers and moved to New Mexico.”
All of those experiences have complemented Trilli's early lessons in life. He reflects on them as well as ethics and leadership in an informative blog, ethicalbusinessbuilder.com.
“I am inspired by anyone who does what they love,” Trilli said. “That's the essence of being an entrepreneur. Finding a way to get paid to follow your passions. I have friends from high school, college and business who are living their passions in business, engineering, teaching, performing arts, flying, raising families or whatever. If you find a way to support yourself and give back to others while doing what you love, you're absolutely successful. I am always amazed by great people doing great things while overcoming great obstacles.”
Ron Paglia is a freelance writer.