CEO Stories: The Can-Do Attitude of American Capitalism

Erik Olssen Portrait
Erik Olsson
CEO, Mobile Mini

Swedish immigrant Erik Olsson, CEO of Mobile Mini Solutions, the country’s largest mobile secure storage solution, describes his journey to the U.S. and the uniquely American can-do attitude that allows both individuals and companies to flourish. Under Erik’s leadership, the company has expanded its national footprint from 120 locations to 150, and he anticipates growth that will lead to 50 more in the near future. Mobile Mini has annual revenue in excess of $500 million. Listen to the podcast below to learn more about Erik Olsson and his thoughts on capitalism in America today.

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The Appeal of Capitalism

For Swedish native Erik Olsson, the lure of capitalism, freedom, and choice was too strong to ignore. First as a university student and then when he started his career in a Swedish company, he found himself frustrated by the complacency that was borne of Sweden’s socialist economy and lack of incentives for personal achievement. His homeland was a stark contrast to the U.S., which he describes as the “icon of capitalism, entrepreneurship, and innovation.” To Olsson, these differences are apparent in both people’s personal lives and their attitude toward their jobs. In the U.S., people are motivated to do their best because of the promise of reward – which in his mind, fosters a better relationship between employees and employers.

Steady Growth

Under Olsson’s stewardship, Mobile Mini has grown in size and profitability – results of Olsson’s refocusing of the business to be less cyclical, more reliant on national accounts, and increasingly customer-centric. He takes great pride in Mobile Mini’s Net Promoter Score – a measure of customer loyalty and likelihood to recommend the company. The company has higher scores than such well-known and admired brands as Apple, Costco, Starbucks, and Amazon.

Measure for Measure

Technology has played a major role in Mobile Mini’s ability to provide superior customer service and be the premium-priced player in the mobile storage market. Customers can manage their relationship with the company online, but just as important to Olsson is the ability to measure the Net Promoter Score down to the branch level, giving a high degree of visibility into each employee’s contributions to the company. In turn, the company can pinpoint areas for improvement and provide the appropriate resources.

About the Series: Featured stories from the intersection of the free market and entrepreneurial success. Here we speak with leading CEOs, academics, philanthropists and up and comers on their contributions and perspectives on the American economy.

About Ray Hoffman: Ray Hoffman, a veteran business journalist, is highly-regarded for his news and analysis features and insightful CEO interviews. Representing BusinessWeek on air for twenty-one years, Mr. Hoffman was the morning business news voice on the ABC Radio Networks from 1995 to 2006. Mr. Hoffman also represented The Wall Street Journal, on air, for eleven years. His daily WCBS CEO Radio feature was recognized by the New York Press Club as best radio business news report in both 2012 and 2015. In this podcast, Mr. Hoffman invites some of America’s most dynamic CEOs to share their stories as business builders and perspectives on free enterprise.