Leading with Passion and Accountability with Troy Duell
Troy Duell currently serves as the CEO of Centurion Labs, LLC. His most important role is as the husband of Brooks and the father of their 3 children. His goal is to develop a pharmaceutical company that “Leads to Make Life Better.” This is done through every interaction at every level of Centurion: employees, customers, doctors, and pharmacies. He previously held positions as National Director of Training, Interim District Sales Manager, Territory Manager, District Trainer and Corporate Training Coordinator for Athlon Pharmaceuticals, Actelion, and Allergan. He was a professional soccer player, teacher, and coach before entering the pharmaceutical industry. Duell holds a B.S from the University of Alabama and an M.A. from Regent University.
4:38– What is Centurian Labs?
8:10– My career background
12:08– Advice for those with a vision
13:28– What have you learned about yourself in the last ten years since starting the business?
14:46– What practical practices or disciplines you have instituted in the company that is based on biblical principles?
16:24– How does being in business challenge your faith?
20:25– What is some of the best advice you’ve ever been given?
23:57– What inspired the name “Centurion Labs”?
26:45– The Proverbs 4:23 Question
Full Transcript of Podcast Below
Ray: Hello, everyone. This is Ray Hilbert, your host here at Bottom Line Faith, we would like to welcome you back to another edition of the program where we like to travel the country and we have the incredible privilege of interviewing top Christian business leaders and thought leaders from a wide variety of fields and areas of discipline. We’ve interviewed CEOs and entrepreneurs with start-up companies and those who are leading large multinational global corporations. We have had the opportunity to interview athletes and celebrities of all sorts here at the program, Bottom Line Faith and so the analogy we like to use here if you’re a familiar listener to the program is, this is where we’re going to lift the hood and we’re going to tinker around in the engine of Christian Leadership, like a mechanic would we’re gonna poke around here and poke around there and see what we can learn and what we can hear. We’re going to talk about failures. We’re going to talk about successes. We’re going to talk about integration of faith in the marketplace. And so, if you’re a new listener welcome, if this is your first time checking out the program.
If you’re a regular subscriber here at Bottom Line Faith, welcome back.. You can listen to all of our – we have dozens and dozens of interviews there. You can listen to any or all of our previous episodes and if you scroll down to the bottom of that page, you can subscribe the program on Stitcher on Google Play iTunes Store. You know those are the normal places to subscribe to your podcast, so check us out Bottom Line Faith. If you are a Christ follower who you are, as we like to say, you sign the front side of a paycheck you’re a business owner or a president or a CEO and if you would be interested in learning about a community of like-minded believers who are in business who come together and encourage one another and challenge one another, followers of Christ in business. We are at Truth at Work the host ministry for the Bottom Line Faith program. When you go to the Truth at Work website, click on the tab there that says Roundtables and you will be able to learn about the Community of Roundtable members across the country in dozens of different cities. Just contact us there and we’ll follow up with you. Well, listen, folks, I am really pumped about today’s episode. Once again, we are in Birmingham, Alabama.
I’ve said on previous interviews here, that it is somewhat beginning to feel like home away from home. This is probably my ninth or 10th trip into this city. It’s a beautiful city. If you’ve never been here, great people and it’s not only in the Bible Belt. I call it kind of the buckle, the polished brass buckle in the center of the Bible Belt. Some amazing churches, amazing followers of Christ down here in some of America’s top Christian business leaders, headquartered right here in Birmingham. And today, our guest is Troy Duell, and Troy is the managing partner at Centurion Labs. Troy, welcome to Bottom Line Faith!
Troy: Ray, excited to be here. Appreciate you having me.
Ray: So, are you from the area?
Troy: I actually grew up in Florida, in Tallahassee, Florida. My mom was from Alabama, that’s where I got my Alabama roots I guess, yeah. And ended up going to University of Alabama and graduated from there and have been a Roll Tide ever since.
Ray: So, you have drunk the Kool Aid.
Troy: I am officially drinking the Kool Aid, yes. Day in and day out.
Ray: It’s fantastic and you know for those who listen to the program from a football standpoint they know I’m a Notre Dame fan and so I get a little bit of heat down here and you know Alabama country. But I learned something yesterday that I didn’t know and that was that Bear Bryant never beat Notre Dame and football. Did you know that?
Troy: I didn’t know that.
Ray: I didn’t know that either.
Troy: I knew we didn’t like Notre Dame and that’s probably why.
Ray: Now I do know that Alabama has certainly beat Notre Dame recently but we won’t get into that right now. So Troy, thanks for joining the program, so we’re going to get into your background and, you know, how you came to Christ and those sorts of things, but kick us off by helping us understand what is Centurion Labs what do you do and what does success look like.
Troy: Centuria Labs is just a small pharmaceutical company. We’ve been around for about 10 years, we decided to go into the generic realm of pharmaceuticals. And about five years ago, made the leap to go into the brand world. And with that brand world, I think it gave us an opportunity to really invest in people’s lives who come on board with us and to us, that’s where the success comes in. Whether these people are with us for two months or 10 years. We want to make sure that when they come or when they leave, they’re better than when they came in when they started with us. And that’s really our goal.
Ray: You bet. And so, being in the pharmacy, pharmaceutical industry, what’s the niche? What’s your area of specialty? Who do you call on? What kinds of products do you offer?
Troy: Yeah, typically we’re calling on women’s health, so OB GYN’s a great deal of time is where we’re spending most of our time. And then we also have pediatric products and urgent cares and family practice. So those are our main focuses. Right now, we’ve got about 10 products that we currently offer out there. And seven of those are in the brand world and three of them are still in the generic world.
Ray: Very good. And what kind of geographical land do you cover?
Troy: We are really heavy basis within the southeast, our sales stretch throughout the country, but our sales reps themselves are just within the southeast. So, from Virginia to Louisiana/Texas.
Ray: Very good. And let’s talk just a little bit because as of the time of us doing this interview there’s, you know, a lot of talk and what out of Washington DC about, you know, changing the ICA and so forth? What are you seeing being in this industry? I’m just curious, what are you seeing as some of the challenges going on in healthcare right now? We’ve heard it’s a quote “mess”. But what are the challenges you’re seeing? And how is your company trying–what space are you trying to step into address some of those issues?
Troy: I think you’re dead on by saying it’s a mess, because it is truly a mess and I think part of the reason it is a mess is we’ve gotten away from the consumer actually knowing how much things cost. My wife recently went to the physician and was asked to get an MRI, for example and she was given three different quotes. One was $10,000, one was $5,000, and one was $300 and if she had gone through the normal realm, our normal channel of insurance, she’d had no idea how much that really cost. And the same is true within pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals, medical devices, surgeries, we have gotten so far removed from how much it really costs that I think it’s taking a toll on the industry itself. So, what we want to do is try to bring back some transparency. So, with our pricing, we want everything to be a cash pay price as opposed to a copay or insurance.
Ray: Very good. That’s the second story along those lines I’ve heard this week and anybody listening to the program, they’re probably can identify with that, right? It’s like, what is this really cost? How much do I really owe and what’s the right off it is crazy.
Troy: It is and anytime you seen those bills, we’ve all seen them when we get them. We have no idea of what half of it means or where these charges come from, or anything else. So, I really think transparency is the best avenue for us within the industry.
Ray: It is crazy, because I mean, maybe I’m just short sighted here, but I can’t think of any other industry that works like this.
Troy: I don’t believe there is one. There isn’t one.
Ray: And it’s one that’s kind of important.
Troy: A very important one.
Ray: One fifth of our economy.
Troy: Yes, yes.
Ray: Wow. Very good. So, did you help start the company or maybe give us a little bit of your own career backgorund?
Troy: Yeah, I came from the pharmaceutical background, pharmaceutical industry started with a small company actually here in Birmingham, we got to about 150 300 reps. So we were nationwide at the time, and then moved on to a biotech company called Actility and then Allergan. Most people are familiar with Allergan. That’s Botox, stubiderm, the big cosmetic world. So, I went from making the world healthy to making it a ittle prettier, but got a great understanding of the cash pay world without Allergan and an understanding of the insurance world through the other two opportunities that I had. And from there, I really had a desire to make a difference. And to create a pharmaceutical company that was a little bit different than the others that were out there. Had been exposed to a lot of things, a lot of great things, a lot of great people, but nothing that was kind of top down to where you knew that this was all about a mission. A mission to make people better, whether they’re your patients, or whether they’re your clients, or whether they’re your employees. And that was kind of my driving force to start it, I guess, about 10 years ago.
Ray: Yeah, so take us back to those early days. So, you were in a corporate career pathway, right? And God touched your heart, “Hey, go in this direction.” What was that like? Was it scary? Was it easy was it, you know, total uncertainty for you? What was that transition like?
Troy: For me, what I ended up doing was taking a weekend and going up to the mountains and camping for two days, and really just pouring myself in prayer and pouring myself in Scripture to make sure this was something that I wanted to do that I was being called to do. And I have a firm belief that businesses not only a place for a mission, but it is a true calling, because there’s so many things that come up that if we don’t make sure that God is a part of it, then we can quickly go down a path that’s not so good. So, spend some time in prayer. So yes, it was very scary from the standpoint of I was leaving security. My wife wasn’t real sure about it. She loved the job we were in. I was going to be taking a much lower salary. Yeah, but I as I felt it was a calling we both made the agreement and spent some time in prayer and decided to make the jump.
Ray: Okay, fantastic. I think I shared on one another episode of Bottom Line Faith. One time I talked to this other fellow who’d been in business. And he said, I think there’s three things that every American should have to do. He says, go into the military to learn respect, go on a mission trip to learn gratitude, and start a business to learn faith.
Troy: Truer words could not have been spoken, I think, because I will have to say, my faith has been stretched and grown greater than anytime I can think or imagine, because your faith grows every season of life. And I certainly saw it as I was growing up, saw it when I got married because you realize that you’re really not as good as you think you are, when you get married. And then you have kids, and you realize that life is not all about you again, the second time and then you start a business and you really begin to understand and see the impact that God’s the one in control, this is his business, and he’s gonna have to provide because I could work 24 hours a day, but ultimately, if God’s not in it is not going to work.
Ray: Yeah. And so how, as you look back now, over the last decade, and in this venture, and, and probably every person listening to this interview, who started a company or had a venture that they helped launch or invested in and took risk, right? They can relate to what you’re talking about here. So, we define success here at Bottom Line Faith is that if one person could be encouraged, if one person could, you know, move to that next step, that next thing that God is calling them to, and so forth. So what word of encouragement would you have for somebody listening to the program right now, maybe God’s given them a vision, or maybe they’re not even sure it’s from God, but they’ve got an idea, they’ve got a thought, a hope of something they want to start or launch or move on to–how would you encourage that person? What would you advise them to do?
Troy: I would definitely advise anybody who’s in that situation, to spend time in prayer, not just with themselves, but corporately, with other believers, with their wife, with their friends, whoever it may be, and understand that I don’t know how old I was when I heard this, but understanding that God is not a God of confusion, he’s not a God of chaos. He’s a God of comfort and peace. And I think when we spend time in prayer, and we spend time going to him and seeking counsel, Godly counsel, then that peace overcomes and that confusion and chaos starts to subside. Not to say there aren’t chaotic days still, but understanding that God is still the one in control and ultimately being able to go to sleep at night with that understanding.
Ray: That’s good. He’s never surprised, right. And I’ve learned he’s never early. And he’s never late just, it feels that way to us at times. Yeah. But he’s always on time. So you’re 10 years into this venture? Right? And so, what have you learned about yourself over the last 10 years?
Troy: I would say there is a lot that I’ve learned about myself from the standpoint of just my faith was a lot shallower and weaker when I first started. I think you learn that maybe you were a bit more prideful when you first start things. And you come to understand that again, all our reliance is on God. And if we can sit back and trust Him and trust those people that he puts in your life. And instead of trying to take control and I that that may be the key is maybe I was a control freak, and I didn’t know it. And being able to step back and just give it to God and say, it’s yours. And then when God brings good people to give them a piece of that, and let them take care of it, instead of you having to take care of it.
Ray: It sounds to me, well, it’s obvious to me, let me put it that way. Your faith in God has been strengthened, your faith in the Lord as you started and built and growing this business has been the foundation there. But could you could you think of any, like practical or overt practices or disciplines that you’ve instituted into the company that are based on biblical principles? Or as a direct result of your faith in God? Is anything come to mind? Maybe a way you interact? Something you offer? Something You Do? Does anything at all kind of mind?
Troy: Yeah, I think one thing that we try to do is we are very intentional or try to be very intentional with each and every person who comes through and through that our tagline with Centurion is “leading to make life better.” And what we’re hoping is that every interaction, we are making life better for our employees, for our clients, for our customers, whoever it may be. But along those pieces, we also have some core values, some of which are, you know, every life has a story to love your neighbor. And if we can continue those mantras all the way through of finding a way, looking for excellence, and working hard, all those pieces that we need to put in place to really be successful as individuals and successful from a company standpoint. That, to me, is the key. And then we also want to celebrate when our employees do something well, so we have milestones in place that will work alongside them, if they have a charity that they desire. We want to give money to their charity and try to always in the back of our minds, making sure we understand this isn’t about us that it’s only about them and it’s only about God.
Ray: Yeah, fantastic. And so then the flip side of the coin is, how does being in business sometimes challenge or faith? Or what are some of those rough spots of trying to live out your faith in the context of business?
Troy: It’s a great question, because I think there are so many areas that challenge your faith. It could be from, from finances, but I think the, the one that sticks out the most to me, is just dealing with people. And in particular employees, because you can look at look at it from a business standpoint, and you read all the business books, and they say, trim the fat, cut the fat, whatever it is, but we’re called to look at them as people and to love them well. Does that mean sometimes praying through it and holding somebody for six months longer than maybe you should have? Or does it mean letting them go when it’s a hard thing to do. And you have to look at people in the eye and really trust your counsel and trust your prayer time that you’re seeking God for the right reasons and letting them go for the right reasons or holding on to them for the right reasons. We want to develop trust within our people.
And then we have a downturn and we cut a quarter of the people because we want to meet budget. Well, we say we value people, but what we are really valuing is the budget instead of those people. And that’s where I think it’s hard as a believer to come in and love them well, and maybe you have to make personal sacrifices or something else in the business can go before you push that. And when do you sacrifice those few? Or when do you hold on to them? And those things are not easy. But I think that’s why your faith is grown so much more and it has to be a calling, you can’t just go in this fly by night.
Ray: That’s a great point. That is a great point. So, as you look back, particularly over the last decade, since starting the company, what comes to mind is maybe one of your biggest mistakes or failures that stand out to you. What did you learn from that? How did your faith play a role in that? Let’s talk a little bit about failure.
Troy: You know, I think my biggest mistake when I started the company and brought it in was when we brought people on one of my biggest, I guess, issues or hang ups was, “Hey, these are grownups they’ll do what they need to do. We don’t have to over manage them. We don’t have to have a lot of accountability out there.” But I really came to understand that accountability is a great thing and accountability is a wonderful driving force and without it, you have a lot of people just floundering out there. It’s how we relay that accountability that I think makes all the difference. The Scripture talks about speaking truth in love. And I think there is no greater way to speak truth in love than through accountability. And I think that within the last 10 years has probably been the greatest thing for me to learn and understand that, “Hey, if there is no accountability, people try to get away with everything.”
Ray: So I know that anyone listening to the program, if you started a business and you started a venture, you know that as your company grows, your handbook gets thicker, you bring on more policies. And it’s not because you’re trying to be legalistic, but you know, it’s because you’re trying to be a good steward, and you just have to have the overall health of the organization in mind. But it’s, that’s a tension.
Troy: That’s a tough tension. It really is. And I don’t know that we’ve gotten great at it. I know we’ve gotten much better at and we’re going to continue to grow with it, and really trying to minimize those things that you don’t have to have with those things that you really need, and make sure that you’re holding people to it.
Ray: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, kind of in this whole vein of, you know, mistakes, lessons learned, and so forth can you think back over the course–and maybe it’s been the last few years or perhaps at another chapter in your life–can you think of some of the best advice you were given? Who gave it to you? And what impact does it have on you yet today? Troy I guess I’ve been fortunate to get a lot of great advice. And it’s hard for me to, to sit back and go, was there one thing that I was given, but I think probably the biggest thing was just do your work, keep your kitchen clean, was one manager kind of gave me that adage. And what he meant by that was, there are things that we have to do to keep business moving forward and keep our lives moving forward. And it’s those disciplines that we don’t like, yeah, I mean, how many of us like to clean dishes or wipe down the counter afterwards to get the food off. But if we don’t, we know it attracts bugs, we know that there’s going to be mold, we know there’s going to be all kinds of things you can come into play. So, if we do our best to just keeping our kitchen clean, then most of the other things will fall into place. And, and probably the second one is to keep the chaos moving forward, because that’s truly what you’re doing. There’s a lot of times, a lot of moving parts and a lot of different things that you’re doing. And just remembering that we’re to persevere and push through whatever it is is going on. I think those are probably the best pieces of advice.
Ray: I like that, keep the chaos moving forward. I hadn’t heard that before, but that is true. I love it spot on. So, let me let me ask you this 10 years in, if you had a chance to go back to day one and do something differently, what would you do differently than what you did?
Troy: I think starting off with that process, the accountability, making sure that that process and accountability was in place for everybody. And if you do that, and you lay it down strong to begin with, then I think a lot of those issues take care of themselves.
Ray: Well, somebody told me once that business is a lot like church, they’d both be a lot of fun if it wasn’t for the people. Right? So, what I’m hearing, and that is having that intentionality. So, there’s probably somebody now on the front end or early into the business that, “Hey, we’re just going to go out and sell we’re just going to go out and generate revenue and let’s just see where this thing goes.” I hear you saying, “Hold, hold on, build some accountability, built some structure from day one, because it’s only going to prove to be a great investment.” Right?
Troy: Absolutely. And in that, don’t forget that intentionality of dealing with them as a person, you know, speaking the truth in love to them, and whatever it is that they’re doing. And we’ve had, I think, some of the greatest testimonies, we had a guy who was with us, for he was with us for six months. But he was not a believer had spent some time with us and James, who is our operations manager, spent a lot of time with him, was a good friend of his of his. And two months ago, he got an email or a text from his dad saying that this young man had just become a believer and a lot of that was attributed to his time when he was with us. So those are things that I think are much more valuable than than the bottom line for us.
Ray: What a great platform. What a great platform. Folks we’re speaking with Troy Duell, he’s the managing partner at Centurion labs here in Birmingham, Alabama. Troy, if someone wanted to learn more about you more about the business, what’s the best way for them to check that out?
Troy: Probably going to Centurion. Labs. com. That’s our website. So, you can always go there and find out a little bit more about us.
Ray: The name, where did the name come from? What inspired that?
Troy: I was actually reading a book called “The Centurion Principles.” It’s a great book, and biblically based and the whole idea behind it was that centurions lead from the front lines. And, of course, it tied it back in to the centurion where he went to Jesus and said, “Hey, just tell me and I’ll go back and I know he’ll be healed because that’s what I do.” And I think from that standpoint, and learning the principles of a centurion, that’s where we came from. We wanted to not just lead but we wanted to be in the fight as we were leading and be a part of something a little bit bigger than ourselves.
Ray: I love it. A couple more questions for a Troy and thanks for being here today. This is just fun getting know you and hearing more about your business and God’s calling on your business. What do you see moving forward? What do you see, you know, the next chapter in the growth of your company, the growth in your faith, whatever, how would you answer that question?
Troy: It’s a great question because I think we always need to be focused on that vision that God has for us. And I’m honestly, I think our vision is to have men and women working for us who were out with the opportunity to each day to go into a doctor’s office, a nurse’s office, or to visit nurses or customers or whoever it may be and they have an opportunity not just to be insular within Birmingham, but they’re doing it across the southeast, across the country. And it’s that to me is what excites me. They get to be a missionary within the United States to people who more than likely are not going to a church, they aren’t going to any ministry at all, but they can be salt and light and if we can help them and help develop their business skills and sales skills and get excellent at what they do and allow the gospel to come through that, then I would say we would have been successful as a company.
Ray: That’s a really, really great definition of success and I think it’s actually a great segue and Troy for our regular listeners that we ask every guest this one question, it’s always the last question. It’s based out of Proverbs, chapter four, verse 23, where Solomon writes these words, he says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flows the wellspring of life.” And so, he’s really saying, guard your motives, guard your intentions, guard your purpose as to what God would have you do and be. And so, I want you to just kind of imagine you’re towards the tail end of your time, this side of eternity, you have a chance to gather your friends, your family, your loved one, loved ones, and you have a chance to pass along one piece of advice. And this is what you want them to remember above everything else. So, fill in the blank for us above all else…
Troy: Passion. And I think passion to me means a lot of different things. You need to have passion for what God has called you to, and go at it with all of your mind and all your effort. And if you can, at the end of your life, say that you saw the vision that God laid out for you, and you pursued it with all the passion that you could, then I think you would have lived a life well, or had a life well lived
Ray: Passion. That’s right. I love it. Love it. And that means, you know, there’s probably somebody right now who’s listening who may be discouraged and they can’t wake up or they’re not waking up with that passion. Or it’s like they’re wondering God, you know, where are you? Give a word of encouragement to that person, would you? What would you say to them?
Troy: I would say that everything in life is a season and there will be distractions from the vision that God gives us, there will be times when you feel like you’re not gonna be able to make it to the other side. But we know that we trust in a God who is bigger than any circumstances around us and if he’s the one who’s ordained that vision in your life, then you know that he will carry it to completion.
Ray: Fantastic. Folks, that is incredible counsel and encouragement from Troy Duell. He’s the managing partner at Centurion labs here in Birmingham, Alabama. Troy, thanks for being on the program today. What a blessing it’s been fun.
Troy: Thank you. Absolutely. Appreciate the time.
Ray: You just have invested in us and we’re just so grateful for that. So, you can check out Centurion labs at Centurion labs. Com. Check them out on the web. Hey, listen folks. I can’t believe we’re at the end of another episode here Bottom Line Faith but what a blessing it is to talk with Troy today. Just one more reminder if you’re not a regular listener or subscriber go to bottom line faith dot dot org. Scroll down to the bottom of the page you can subscribe there whether you use iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher you know the normal platforms there to subscribe to podcasts.
Also, if you’re a Christ follower and you are a business owner we like to say, if you’re the one sign in the front side of the paycheck, the CEO, the business owner, you might want to check out truth that work dot org. We are the hosts ministry here at Bottom Line Faith. Go to truth at work dot org, click on that tab there that’s called Roundtables and you’re going to see the opportunity to connect with one of our roundtable groups in dozens of cities across the country have hundreds and hundreds of business owners just like you, we hope that you will be interested in checking that out. And again, thanks for joining us today and until next time. This is your host Ray Hilbert at Bottom Line Faith. God bless. Go serve God faithfully in the marketplace and be encouraged today. See his