In the fall of 1986 I came home one Friday evening after having worked all day with four other carpenters framing a house for a builder that I worked for at the time. It was a particularly hot day for that time of year, and I was hot, sweaty, and tired. But beyond that I was frustrated beyond words because again, for the 10th week in a row I came home without a paycheck. I was (and still am) a good hearted soul and felt sorry for the builder who kept telling the crew that he was having difficulties and would get us paid as soon as the bank released the draw checks. If they did come I never saw my portion.
Seeing the discouragement in my eyes, my dad suggested “why don’t you just go into business for yourself?” My thoughts varied from “is this guy out of his mind?, to “what the heck do I know about running a business?”. That evening I just sat and pretty much allowed my mind to freeze, as if it were on pause.
That weekend I got together with my best friend Greg (who also worked with me as a carpenter with that builder) and asked him what he thought about going into business, getting a license etc. So we both went and took our Maryland state home improvement license exam, each passed it, and we were off and running. Greg decided though that his desire was a career in the Fire Department (we were both volunteers at the same station) so I launched my business and for many years he worked for me on his days off.
My background in construction was wide and varied as my dad built the home in which I grew up. I enrolled in shop classes from the 5th grade through my senior high school year, worked as a carpenters apprentice, was a laborer and carpenter for a commercial construction firm, worked for a solar heating company, carpet company, cabinet company, and had numerous friends in the industry. But what did I know about business? Nothing, my dad told me, I couldn’t figure out!
So I started reading everything I could get my hands on about business – especially the construction industry. I read the entire AIA Construction Agreement, and general conditions.
I learned about the different kinds of business models, how to protect my personal assets, and the consequences of the various business types as determined by the IRS. I wish I knew (I really tried to find out) who made the following quote: “If you want to be successful, do what successful people do”. Well I took that to heart and worked hard to meet those that I considered successful businessmen for lunch, coffee (well, for me juice or hot chocolate cause I don’t drink coffee) golf, wherever/whenever to get inside their minds.
The interesting thing that I found was the common thread in all of them were: Knowledge of their field, exhaustive planning, keeping organized, willingness to delegate, a real care for employees and clients, surrounding themselves with great and highly qualified character-rich people inside their organizations, (and within those organizations that supported them), and the burning desire to be the best.
It is these 7 principals that have been the foundation for everything that I have ever tried to accomplish in business. They, and the blessing of God Almighty form the foundation for the following business successes:
- First million dollar revenue year in 1991
- Self-taught computer literate 1992
- First Fortune 500 client in 1995
- Company record for the Rouse Company for fastest build-out of a mall restaurant space with no disruption to adjacent tenants. Build-out time: 31 calendar days
- Five million dollar sales year in 1999
- Served as Owners representative for a 13 million dollar church construction/remodeling project saving the church $175,000.00 on one Change Order
- Earned the following awards (first contests ever entered) as Contractor of The Year from NARI for a kitchen remodel over $150,000.00, and second place for interior remodel over $500,000.00 in 2010
- Developed a tool that earned a United States Patent
Fast forward to 2012 and I moved my family from Maryland to South Carolina to be closer to my parents, and allowed myself six months to get settled in to our new home.
I knew a total of 4 people on June 19, 2012 when we arrived: Mom & Dad, and my Aunt and Uncle – 5 if you count our Realtor
Within 6 months of setting out to establish myself in this new community, those 7 principals put me in the position of being offered an exclusive relationship with one of the areas most well known and respected businesses to offer their customers our service for remodeling.
My purpose in writing this book is that as you read you will take away just a nugget or two of truth that will not only be a blessing to you and your project, but also save you possibly tens of thousands of dollars, lost time, or even prevent a lawsuit.