20 Under 40 Q&A: Billy SheltonVice president of Shelton Excavating and president of Shelton Family Foods and Shelton Investments.
Get to know Billy Shelton
Occupation: Vice president of Shelton Excavating and president of Shelton Family Foods and Shelton Investments.
What do you actually do? A variety of things. One day, I might bid on a new construction project, bill a customer for a recently completed job, help move some dirt, determine the most efficient scheduling for our dedicated teams, discuss work in progress with a current customer and make a bank deposit. The very next day, I might travel to a food show that ultimately results in a slight change to our frozen pizza sauce to heighten our pizza’s flavor, quality and value. Almost no two days are alike.
Years in your job: Shelton Excavating was started by my father, Larry Shelton, in 1991. I enjoyed my first taste of the family business at 12, successfully negotiating a $1 per hour wage, plus gummi bears, to keep the owner company in his truck. By 19, I had begun regularly participating in the day-to-day operations of Shelton Excavating. My role was reduced for a few years to only administrative tasks in 2001, when I started my own restaurant. When the restaurant sold in 2004, I assumed my current position managing the day-to-day operations of Shelton Excavating alongside my father. I also formed Shelton Investments in 2007 and acquired Shelton Family Pizza in 2009.
Education: After graduating from Proctor High School in 1999, I attended the University of Minnesota Duluth for a couple of years before putting my formal education on hold to attend to my budding restaurant business.
Community involvement: AYSA soccer board of directors, REA3D board of directors, Leadership Duluth 2009 graduate, youth soccer coach, ABC “Extreme Home Makeover” project, co-DECA adviser.
What brought you to the Twin Ports?
I am proud to say that I was born and raised in the Twin Ports.
What do you like to do during your free time?
There is nothing I enjoy more than being surrounded by friends and family, which often entails one of my favorite hobbies, such as flying, boating on Lake Superior, attending UMD hockey games, coaching, traveling or great food and conversation at a local establishment or backyard.
What do you like most about the Northland?
I honestly believe that the Northland has some of the kindest, most respectful people in the entire country. In my position, I have the distinct pleasure of interacting with a wonderfully diverse array of people across the Twin Ports, and it never fails to impress me how highly everybody seems to respect and appreciate others and what they do in the community. Everyone seems to be interested in what they believe to be the common good for their community. I am often inspired by this incredible selflessness.
Who or what has made the biggest impact on your life?
I am blessed with unbelievable friends and family. However, it’s nearly impossible to fully convey the positive impact my father has had on my life. He remains a tremendous role model, sage mentor and, most importantly, my best friend. He never fails to lead by example, teaching me through constant repetition that nothing is ever more important than the people in our lives. I will consider myself a success if I can maneuver obstacles, embrace opportunities and enjoy successes and failures with even half the class and fortitude which he has. He is an incredible man that lives a life worth living. I am fortunate to be his son and beyond proud to call him Dad.
What are you most passionate about?
There is nothing that I’m more passionate about than giving back — personally and professionally. I wouldn’t be where I am without countless people in the community. I want nothing more than to use any level of success that I might attain as a catalyst to do more good. One of the wonderful benefits of owning a construction company has been the ability to use our many tools to give back to the community, such as building outdoor learning forests, area soccer fields and playgrounds. I hope to be able to do much more to make a positive impact on the lives of the great people in this region.
How have social and business networking sites changed your life?
Due to the nature of my companies, social media has not played a significant role in operations. However, that isn’t to say that there won’t be a place for it in the future. On a personal level, social media has provided the benefit of staying connected with many people and what is going on in their lives when my life doesn’t perhaps afford me the chance to see an old acquaintance face-to-face over some period of time. In short, I think social media does serve a beneficial role, but I don’t think it will ever replace the personal nature of a friendly smile and warm greeting.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Being afforded the opportunity to partake in ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover project in 2009 was easily one of my biggest accomplishments. On this project, everyone in the community came together, lines of business competition were blurred, and uninhibited selflessness was allowed to shine through to change the lives of a single, unsuspecting family. And, as we set out to change lives of others, we couldn’t have imagined how significantly it would ultimately change ours.
What goals have you set for the next 5-10 years?
Though I remain dedicated to growing each of my businesses, I don’t have any specific goals outlined for what that will entail in the next 5-10 years. Part of why I love what I do is derived from the excitement that comes from not always knowing what might happen tomorrow, or next year, or five years from now.
What advice would you give other young people?
To young people looking to build a career in the Northland — or anywhere — find your passion. That might encompass a lot of trial and error, but that is half the fun of life. Don’t be afraid to go out there and try something. Let fear be the catalyst that launches you in the direction of your dreams. Find what you love; do it every day. And, though it should go without saying, always treat everyone you meet with respect.