Trae-Ely-302841*220Q. 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.
Ans: Southern Restoration & Construction is a full service restoration company dealing with water, fire and mold damages throughout the greater Charlotte area. We are an around the clock company so you would speak to a person if you had an emergency situation 24/7, 365 days a year. This company’s motto is to mitigate any damage from getting worse with our staff and equipment that we have in house and then we will build anything that couldn’t be saved back immediately for you as well.

Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans: Born and raised here in Charlotte NC. Took a golf scholarship to play golf in college at Wofford where I majored in Business Economics. Since graduation I worked for another restoration company until I decided to go out onto my own and start SRC for myself.

Q. 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?
Ans: I had been working in this industry for some time and thought that if I had the freedom to run my own company that I could make a few improvements with communication and quality of work. I know the industry very well and wanted to make a difference in the quality of service people were getting in a very stressful time of seeing his/her property damaged.

Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans: Get to know other entrepreneurs and figure out what keeps them up at night and how they got around some of the hurdles that faced them. Never be shy when telling someone what you want to do. Always be honest even when it hurts.

Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: Communication, huge drive and passion for what you do.

Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: 10 to 11 hours a day. I’m in the office by 7am I leave around 5:30 or 600.

Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: Hard work, communication and brutal honesty.

Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: This is a relationship business. I market to property management companies, insurance agents and insurance adjusters. I market to them because all of them want their customers to be well taken care of and they sometimes refer us to come help their customers.

Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: I started with the small amount of cash that I had saved up over a 10 year period and decided to just “roll the dice” and go for it. I have never taken a loan from a bank nor do I have any outside investors.

Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: Figure out what you are good at and focus on it. There might be 100 things that it takes to run a successful business and you might only be good at 10 of them. Figure out what those 10 things are and become great at them. You can hire others to help you out with the other 90. But you need to hire great A+ people that care as much as you do about the future of your company and the customers that you service.

Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: In 5 to 10 years I see us 3 to 4 times larger than we are now. We will be able to service every square mile of the Carolinas.

Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: Probably Facebook because they didn’t let their cash restraints stop them from realizing their goals.

Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: Good employees are the cornerstone of a good company. You want people that have lofty individual goals and you have to give them the means of achieving their goals if they work hard and perform well.

Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: Depends on the idea, but most often if something doesn’t work after a couple times of trying I sit down and ask other people in the industry if it’s working for them. If it is I will keep going, if it isn’t I will stop right then.

Q. What motivates you?
Ans: Financial security

Q. What are your ideals?
Ans: Don’t know what you mean with this question.

Q. How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: I sometimes send out questionnaire packets to clients asking them where we can improve. From that feedback I try to come up with ideas to fulfill their needs.

Q. How do you define success?
Ans: Making people happy, doing a fast and good job and turning a profit.

Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: Marketing is a slow drip of time that the customer or potential customer can hear from you, hear of you or meet you face to face. The more times they think of you is good. It lets them know that you are always available.

Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: Freedom to set my own schedule.

Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: A multi-family dwelling had a huge water loss that had 40 units affected. The claim was over $500,000 and we got it turned around in 8 weeks from start to finish.

Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: There is a risk factor that entrepreneurs seem to be more comfortable with than other people. Both can be equally as driven but if the boat sinks the entrepreneur is going down with it.

Q. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Ans: I can’t speak for the industry but here at SRC the culture is come to work, come to work on time and come to work on time ready for a full hard day.

Q. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Ans: Driven

Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans: Talent acquisition is so hard. The first few employees I had just didn’t want to work very hard. When I started hiring through a staffing agency it really helped the quality of people working here.

Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: I carry a lot of stress and sometimes that can affect your family life in a negative way. I have a great support system around me and have become a lot better at dealing with stress over the lifetime of the company.

Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans: My greatest fear is dealing with mortgage companies.

Q. How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans: Fast response is key to the restoration industry. We are at the corner of I-77 and I-485, which allows us to get to where ever my team needs to get in a short amount of time.

Q. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: Just grind your tail off and be honest.

Q. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Ans: Winston Churchill, he had a steady hand in uncertain times.

Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ans: My father.

Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans: I sometimes trust people too much.

Q. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans: People are imperfect. Mistakes will happen and you can’t prevent it. You need to own those mistakes, apologize and make it right.

Q. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans: I like to golf.

Q. What makes you happy?
Ans: Friends and family.

Q. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: My personal time.

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