Being at the forefront of a recent company divestiture gave Eric John a chance to shine — and his leadership in a high-pressure, high-reward scenario led to his ultimate promotion to CEO of Ironclad Environmental Solutions.
John was serving as the senior VP of Mobile Mini Tank and Pump Solutions in October 2022 when the division was acquired by private equity firm Kinderhook Industries.
“They liked the results of the sale and my leadership of the company and ultimately offered me the position of CEO,” John said of his appointment by Kinderhook. Shortly after the rebrand, Ironclad acquired Adler Tank Rentals; John is now leading an expanded company that’s prioritizing growth.
“With the acquisition of Adler Tank Rentals, two companies that were operating on limited capital investment within two holding companies, are now — with capital investment — one company,” said the CEO. “We’re coming together to create a large, national footprint business. And instead of two companies running side by side, we are one major environmental solutions company.”
The most important parts of John’s new role, he says, are threefold: “Setting the vision of where we’re headed, really understanding, maintaining and growing our culture as a company and bringing in the talent to lead the organization.”
He added that Ironclad’s long-term vision can be achieved by having a people first culture and attracting team members who want to be part of a hard-working, passionate and talented team.
John’s goals in his position are to take the feedback he gets from customers and turn that into improved solutions, service and deliverables — more equipment in more locations, and better access to innovative waste and environmental solutions.
“We’re going to expand in current markets and grow into new markets,” John said. “That’s what our customers want. Business growth strategies don’t have to be complicated, 1,400-page documents. Our customers told us what they want.” He added that if Ironclad expands accordingly, it would be rewarded handsomely.
“We want to evolve and expand in the same way that we do business — we want to be safe and exhibit humble integrity. So, it’s doing what the customer wants us to do, in the reliable way Ironclad does it,” John said.
The most pivotal moment in John’s career, he says, happened in December 2021 when the Tank and Pump division of Mobile Mini started the process of selling the business, which forced him into the role that eventually led to his promotion.
“There are pivotal moments when things fall off a cliff,” John said, pointing to the critical lessons and unpredictability all businesses endured in 2020 — but noting with pride that his company’s margins stayed flat as others’ floundered. “We made the best out of a lousy situation. You can hang on when times are good, but when things fall off a cliff, you really learn a lot.”
John’s favorite quote, which he often shares with his children, is “work hard and be nice.” It’s very simple, he says, but it means a lot. “You can get a lot more done when you’re nice to people than you ever could when you’re rude,” he says. “It just makes life easier and more enjoyable.”
Click to view Jeremy Osterberger with BIC interview Eric John with Ironclad.