Question : Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Answer : iiCON Construction Group is a full service general contractor headquartered in Colorado Springs Colorado. We are an experienced team of construction professionals that focus our efforts on our client’s most critical projects. We have developed systems and strategies that make our construction projects run efficiently and we select the most qualified subcontractors to ensure that we achieve the highest level of quality in our projects from start to finish. We are not out to be the largest contractor in the region, we want to be the best contractor in the region. We achieve our success by focusing our efforts on fewer projects so that, as principals, we are involved in all aspects of the project. This allows us to maintain the very high standards that we have set for ourselves and our projects.
Question : Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Answer : I am a Colorado native, married with one son. I attended Colorado State University and graduated with a BS in Construction Management. I stayed in Fort Collins to work for a drywall contractor for 3 years before relocating to Denver to work with GH Phipps Construction Company, a large general contractor, where I remained for 19-1/2 years. Through my tenure I was involved in many strategic initiatives within the organization including the establishment of the Concrete Services Division, implementing integrated accounting and project management systems, restructuring the Special Projects division to increase annual revenues, and creating the Federal Government Services Division in the company where I mentored other small businesses. What I am most proud of was accepting the challenge to relocate to our Colorado Springs Office where I was able to raise the bar and increase revenues within Southern Colorado as well as leading the effort to relocate our office to a new building and improve the company image within the region. Additionally, I was a volunteer with the US Green Building Council – Colorado Chapter and ultimately served as chair of the southern branch. I was also the Co-chair of the Associated General Contractors southern committee.
Question : What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Answer : Throughout my career, I have been involved in creating or improving new divisions and departments within the organization. Over my career, I was able to become a Senior Manager within the organization and moved further away from project details. Over the last 4-5 years of my tenure at my prior company, I had the opportunity to mentor other small businesses. It was exciting for me to see someone take my advice, implement it and achieve success within their organization. I also had more of an opportunity to get back into the construction projects that we were working on and I realized how much I missed the challenge being creative and innovative in solving project issues. This is when I decided to venture out on my own.
Question : What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Answer : I would say that remaining positive and believing in your vision is critical to achieving success. Surround yourself with a great team, make this investment. Ask a lot of questions from your peers because you will quickly realize that there are several aspects of your new business that you know very little about.
Question : What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Answer : An entrepreneur needs to understand the financial aspects of running a business. .
Question : How many hours do you work a day on average?
Answer : 12-14 hours a day and several hours over the weekend.
Question : To what do you most attribute your success?
Answer : I have learned so much from the situations or “things” that have not worked or failed. It has helped me to become more of an expert in these areas. I tend to evaluate pros and cons of a decision that needs to be made – then I make a decision.
Question : How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Answer : Through our website, printed material – but there is no substitute to making the time to meet with people to tell our story and what we are about.
Question : Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Answer : Currently our business is self funded through assets and personal loans.
Question : What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Answer : We are a fairly new company, but from my past experience it is staying true to the core values that you believe in and practice them each day.
Question : Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Answer : Our goal is to be considered for complex projects that are critical to our clients. We will be staffed with the best team of professionals that all share the same goal of providing the best quality product and focusing on our client’s needs.
Question : How important have good employees been to your success?
Answer : Good employees are essential for a company to be successful. We have been able to achieve the impossible when we have the right individuals involved on a project.
Question : How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Answer : I would say that it depends on the idea. If it is something that our company is based on i.e. our Core Values and what we stand for – then never. If it is trying a new process that we hope will increase our efficiency but it does the opposite, we will very quickly give up.
Question : What motivates you?
Answer : Having a client thank me for the building or project that we just completed for them and then recommending me to our next client.
Question : How do you generate new ideas?
Answer : I listen. I listen to our clients, our contracting team, the iiCON team. We are always communicating on how to make something better or more efficient. Then I will go out and see if a solution exists, if not we will develop a solution in house.
Question : How do you define success?
Answer : Ultimately for me is that iiCON Construction Group is considered to be among the best construction companies within our region. We are the best for what we do and not for the volume of what we do. As principals, we want to be involved – we bring the experience – we are invested.
Question : How do you build a successful customer base?
Answer : Getting out of the office to meet with potential design partners and clients. Networking.
Question : What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Answer : I have the ability to work to my high standards and expectations for a client. In a large company, it is difficult sometimes to push this down into the company because of the varying degrees that an employee takes personal ownership.
Question : What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Answer : Watching a team come together and achieve the impossible task. It is amazing to me what can be accomplished when you put the right mix of people together.
Question : What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Answer : Personal Ownership. I thought that I knew what that meant in my prior organization since we were an ESOP. But I realize now that it was more of a sales pitch. Today, I am fully invested in the success of our projects and our clients.
Question : What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Answer : As we grow – I want our culture to be open. Open to new ideas and innovative ways to solve problems. I realize that as we grow, our work environment has to be able to promote new ways of building a project. It is essential to me that my team feels like a team and are able at all levels to contribute to the success of the company – and be rewarded for it.
Question : In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Answer : Busy
Question : If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Answer : I don’t think that I would have done anything differently. I have learned from mistakes that have been made and that is what makes me a better leader, person, builder.
Question : How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Answer : I am grateful that my family is so supportive in this new venture of mine. They help me stay positive – they are awesome. It is important to me that I still contribute around the house and make time to be present in all that we do as a family.
Question : What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Answer : Not being successful on a project and having a client disappointed in the end result. At iiCON Construction Group, we spend a significant amount of time at the beginning of the project to plan it out and come up with solutions to potential problems.
Question : How did you decide on the location for your business?
Answer : As I indicated earlier, I am a Colorado native. I have lived in El Paso County (Monument) for the past 13 years and love it there. Our office is in downtown Colorado Springs – this is where we feel like we need to be.
Question : Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Answer : I am not sure – I only know what I know and I believe that we will be successful because of the experience that we bring to the table, the creative solutions that we implement, and the preplanning efforts that we focus on for our clients.
Question : What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Answer : I think the biggest mistake that I have made is hoping that a project team will work out differences among them for the success of a project. It is essential that individuals can work together in a collaborative and positive manner to be successful. I watched this team implode over time and there was nothing that could have prevented it other than changing the mix of individuals. Today – I recognize that great teams build great projects and it is essential to understand that this project may be the only one that our client ever builds. This is why we focus our efforts on fewer projects rather than trying to grow to a large company.
Question : What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Answer : I enjoy time with my family, traveling, camping, skiing. Thankfully my lovely wife pulls me along on an adventure that becomes a experience that I will never forget.
Question : What makes you happy?
Answer : Being recognized as a great husband, father, boss and leader.
Question : What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Answer : In an effort to get the business started, I have taken a pay cut, and work much more than I did in my previous job – ultimately I believe this will change and it will be worth all of the effort.