A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Our Houston area construction industry lost two good men in the last couple of months: Jerry Lowry and Damon Gowan.  They were similar in make-up: leaders who were quiet doers.  Both held many profiled industry leadership roles, but both remained grateful and humble; they were givers above all, and led very parallel lives.
November 07, 2017
When Masters Champions Jackie Burke and Jimmy Demaret built the Champions Club in Houston in the 50s, they wanted to attract members with both character strength and competency, who played golf and life by rules, so that the club would become a community of trust and skill.  And to symbolize this, they installed full-length lockers that close but do not lock.  Today Rolexes, TAG Heuers, credit cards and wads of bills are left in lockers that don’t lock.  They have never had a theft.
October 11, 2017
Among the most positive things that can be said of any person is “He or she has good character.” It means the individual is reliable, honest, a person of his or her word. You can count on him or her. It used to be a base requirement for people in roles that influenced others – those natural role models such as clergy, coaches, congressmen and commanders. Regrettably, in recent years, the requirement for impeccable character in these roles seems to be discounted or waived.
September 15, 2017
This is the third and final installment in our discussion of succession, an important and relevant topic, because over the next three to five years, the majority of construction companies will experience the retirement of their baby boomers, now filling key senior leadership roles, including the CEO. We have discussed the limited options to sell their companies that most traditional building general contractors have. In almost all cases, the only option is to sell it internally it internally – to family members or to a key group of employees – or to create an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
August 18, 2017
In this second article in our series on succession, we will continue the discussion of the internal transfer of responsibility and ownership, the most common method for construction companies.  It does bear repeating that self-performing contractors, not required to bond, can usually be sold, as can established general contractors with a strong brand franchise and a reliable client base, especially in preferred growth markets.  Still, most construction firms transfer ownership and control internally.
July 19, 2017
Senior executive succession planning is a current priority for many construction companies.  Baby boomers are reaching ages where they seek to retire or work significantly less.  To custom tailor exits or cutbacks, where there is a legal “change of control,” requires deep, strategic thinking, guided by experienced, neutral, outside advisors.
June 20, 2017
The following article originally appeared in the May newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, now a part of FMI Corporation. Reprinted with permission. There is an amazing similarity between what real champions in both sports and business do, and it is worth some reflection. In the broadest sense, these people and organizations, no matter what their demonstrated competencies and past performance records, strive, not just hope, to get better. They take proactive steps to develop a qualified outside support system that allows them to make candid comparisons, set realistic strategic targets, and develop the specific skills needed. They have extraordinary mental toughness and discipline. They know they can get better; they make the investments to acquire the guidance and coaching; they do the work. They repeat this process.
May 12, 2017
Contractors as individuals come in as many varieties as people themselves do.  However, those that become successful builders have two common characteristics, regardless of the markets they serve, the size of the organizations they build, their geographic location or their ability to self-perform.  These essential two ingredients are authenticity and appreciation.  Both are the hallmarks of true leaders, and both are threshold qualities for those that will become their successors.  
April 13, 2017
The following article originally appeared in the February 2017 newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, now a part of FMI Corporation.  Reprinted with permission.Milestone events, like our acquisition by FMI, prompt a period of reflection and optimism.  You look to the past for conclusions and lessons; you look to the future with expectations and possibilities.  While I was in this period of pondering, I heard Tim Cook, Apple’s highly respected CEO, on the Charlie Rose Show.  Responding to the question about Apple’s continuing ability to innovate, he said, “We will always do it. Steve [Jobs] put innovation in our corporate DNA.”That interchange made me think harder and deeper as I looked to the past.  For the past 33 years, from a very privileged perch, I have been observing commercial construction contractors in the Greater Houston Area.  This period per statistics and records has been the most volatile in history.  Adapting to frequent, often extreme, changes has been imperative for those companies that survived and prospered.  
February 14, 2017
The following article originally appeared in the January newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, now a part of FMI Corporation.  Reprinted with permission.We begin 2017 with optimism and excitement. We have been able to “walk our talk” about executing the right succession plan. As of January 1st, we become part of the Houston Team of the heralded consulting firm, FMI. The timing is right for us, I am now an octogenarian; Candace, a leading-edge millennial on the springboard of her productive years. They are attracted to my past and her future.Candace and I are humbled and honored to join our industry’s leading consulting firm. Our mandate is to continue to serve our clients exactly as we have and to help them grow in Houston and Texas. This move gives us the capacity to add significant additional value with FMI’s vast resources of bright people, tailored industry data, and an impressive track record of helping construction companies prosper and grow.  
January 18, 2017