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The Difference Between a Leader and a Boss

Meet Luke Schoenbeck, Mark VII's New Vice President of Sales

Have you ever seen the business meme that shows the difference between a leader and a boss? In the first picture, the word “boss” points to one person sitting up high up in a wagon, pointing ahead, while subordinates’ strain to pull the wagon.

In the meme’s second picture, titled “leader,” the boss is now standing in front of the group. The leader is still pointing the way but is helping pull the wagon.

This meme is meaningful to Luke Schoenbeck, who has been promoted to vice president of sales at Mark VII. “I go into this new role humbly,” says Schoenbeck, 33, who succeeds Larry McCarty, who retired in early January 2022. “I have big shoes to fill.”

Schoenbeck joined Mark VII in 2016 as a marketing communications specialist. As Schoenbeck developed his skills and expanded his knowledge of the car wash business, Mark VII promoted him to marketing communications manager and then marketing director in 2018.

“When I came into this business, I saw opportunities to help Mark VII improve its marketing strategies in the business-to-business (B2B) world,” Schoenbeck says. “I’m glad the marketing team has been willing to try all kinds of things, from blog posts to videos. I want to bring this same energy to Mark VII’s sales team.”

5 tips to succeed in sales

Here are 5 things that shape Schoenbeck’s philosophy about sales success:

  1. Leverage your experience. Schoenbeck gained experience in sales and account management early in his career at VistaComm, a precision marketing agency in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He managed more than 30 client accounts, primarily multi-million-dollar cooperatives throughout the United States, including divisions of CHS, a Fortune 100 company. One year he generated more than 50% of new client revenue, making him the number-one sales representative on the team. “I’m excited to get back into sales,” Schoenbeck says.
  2. Let the thoroughbreds run. During his three years at VistaComm, CEO and entrepreneur Bill Byrne mentored Schoenbeck.“I learned a lot from Bill about leadership, valuing your team and understanding the importance of trust and loyalty. When you have all that, you can let your thoroughbreds run, as Bill would say.”
  3. Clear the roadblocks. While a boss commands and micromanages, a leader listens, asks questions and finds ways to help people learn and grow. “I love helping clear the roadblocks, improving communication and being a connection between sales, service, chemicals and back-office functions like accounting,” Schoenbeck says. “I want to help people succeed.”
  4. Build people up. Sometimes leadership means making tough calls and having crucial conversations. Schoenbeck is grateful he had the chance to learn from McCarty, who showed him how to be persuasive, not abrasive. “Larry is a positive person who challenges you to be the best version of yourself. He set a great example of how to articulate key messages, even when you have to deliver bad news. He’d emphasize ‘we’ll get through this’ and encouraged people to challenge the status quo and try new things. I’m grateful for all he taught me.”
  5. Keep challenging yourself. A native of Watertown, South Dakota, Schoenbeck knew he wanted to try living in a big city so he could expand his network and pursue an advanced degree. That’s what led him to the University of Denver, where he earned his master of business administration (MBA) degree in 2016. Schoenbeck also joined the American Marketing Association/Colorado, where he has served as a board member and president. As he shifts into his new role of vice president of sales at Mark VII, Schoenbeck looks forward to sharing his knowledge, learning from the team and growing the business. “It’s exciting to build on what we’re doing well and make things even better to serve our customers.”