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Join us for a conversation with custom home builder Andrew Black and learn how his quest to find a better way to run his business led to 500% growth, multiple offices, and a team that’s never been happier. We’ve featured other members of his team in Episode 21 & Episode 26 so thought it was time to talk to the guy who started it all. We were worried that he’d start feeling left out.

Show highlights include:

  • Why focusing more on operations rather than production is the key ingredient to growing a successful business (3:09) 
  • The weird way growing too fast can bankrupt your business (10:41) 
  • How promoting your project managers to owners prevents them from bailing on your company for something else (and helps you keep your sanity as your grow) (18:32) 
  • The “Incubator Secret” that attracts the best builders to your team
  • Constantly finding ways to improve in every aspect of the business (22:13)
  • Truthfully it’s not that hard to have high revenue. What’s hard is to have an NOI at the end of the year that's positive (30:34)
  • How your operations are the difference between a 7 or 8% NOI and a 0% NOI (even if you’re a multi-million dollar business) (31:14) 

If you’d like to get in touch with Andrew you can email him at andrew.black@alairhomes.com or send him a DM on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/alairhomesforesthill/ 

To get the most out of this podcast, head over to https://buildernuggets.com and join our active community of like-minded builders and remodelers.

Read Full Transcript

So, yes, top-line looked great, but the bottom line was not good.

Welcome to another episode of Builder Nuggets, the show where builders and remodelers discover how to build thriving businesses while working less. I'm Duane Johns and together with Dave Young, we share the elements of success that have helped hundreds of contractors like you build better lives.

(00:23): Well, everyone, this isn't the first time you'll have heard the name black construction or a layer homes, forest hill. We've featured this business in two previous episodes because of some extraordinary stories that were shared with us. Now we get to talk to a good friend of ours and the guy who started it all, we were worried that he'd start feeling left out. If we didn't get him on. Soon in may, we featured Evelyn Ratcliffe and an episode called building from Barbados. And in June we heard about project manager, Corey Norris, his best month ever. Those were both inspirational. So it's about time. We sat down with the builder whose vision and leadership has attracted this team and the success welcome Andrew Black founder of black construction. Now all our homes, forest hill, north York, and Markham in Ontario, Canada. Hey guys, thanks so much for having me DUI and DJ I'm.

(01:09): I'm excited to be a part of this, and I get to piggy off of piggyback off of Corey Norris for the best day ever. I'm going to call it the best decade ever. Okay, good. We're looking forward to hearing that, but first off, congrats, you and your team have just won some major industry awards from your home builders association project at a year to a layer homes, you know, top volume office. You had a lot of beer people recognized during those during, during a multitude of events and recognition opportunities here, Avalon your business partner got recognized with a legacy award for exceptional influence and there were top off accolades all around. So how fun has it been around your office, you know, and St. Corey and his best month ever, you're ready for your best decade ever super fun time right now. Right? It's incredible. Like winning those awards and was, was amazing. Like you saw me, I jumped, I jumped, I was probably four feet in the air when I heard that. And it was fun to be in the room. It was a last minute thing where I had the invite to come and a opportunity to come and join you and sit with your entire team as they experienced all this. So really fun to see firsthand and part of the impetus of our episode today, too. I mean, just to

(02:26): Chime in quick, I mean, very well-deserved I have worked with Andrew and his team and Evelyn, and there's a lot of listeners right now that have collaborated with you guys over the last several years, because you have worked hard getting your systems and all that much more efficient. So congrats on how much you guys have done. Thanks so much. I mean, I, I should, to a lot of that success to Evelyn as well, like Evelyn on the op side has been real powerhouse and the efficiencies that we've created and, and just even realizing how important opposites as opposed to production's important too, but it wasn't until recently, I, I understood how important ops were and to have someone in charge of ops has, has been an absolute game changer for us. I attribute a lot of our success recently to that focusing more resource on operations as opposed to production. I find it that that is, that is often based on the discussions I've had with other builders.

(03:21): It is often sort of the, the, the missing ingredient to, you know, to building that key. The key recipe of a successful business is the focus is always on. Builders is always on building the house. And that's absolutely important being passionate about building and taking pride in your work. But if you don't have the ops to back it up, it's meaningless and it wasn't always like that for you guys. And I'm excited today, or we're both excited today because we're hearing about some fantastic growth that you're you and your team are experiencing your mission to open additional offices, but it wasn't always like that five years ago, you were on a mission to find a better way. You know, you had your own smallish construction business. I shouldn't say small, she's still three to 5 million bucks. You can fill us in on all that in a second, but tell us how you got to the point where you felt compelled to double down on yourself and maybe start with how you got, you know, how you got going in the first place.

(04:21): Yeah, I'll start from ground zero. It was a, it was always my mission to grow and to grow a big business never satisfied with just complacency and going to the motions. Day by day, we were always just focused on growth, my partner and I, at the time, Dave Steckel, he's still still involved in the business on a, from a financial perspective. Non-Operational just, you know, high-level vision, but we initially started black construction in 2007 working together. We were younger at the time we were in our mid twenties or something and had experienced in the business on, in construction from my father, having a, a business as well, really old school, like everything being done on a green ledger paper. And even to this day, he's still filling the blanks in with it on his green ledger paper. And I don't even think he has Excel on his computer, but that that's kind of where it, where it came from.

(05:17): So the focus was always on, on the construction and never on, never on the operations and creating systems and process. And when my business partner and I started out, we didn't know what systems or process to put in place. Like we just had to, we had to figure it out as we expanded. And because our main focus was growth. We kept hitting these glass ceilings and having to adjust the operations to accommodate the new level of growth and the new level of revenue. And I mean, that can sometimes be a scary scenario because you're not keeping up with the whole business. Only one aspect of your business is moving forward. The operations have moved forward until you make a mistake, and then you realize, oh, that's what I have to do. So that was, that was challenging. And that's obviously not a very sustainable growth model.

(06:06): We kept hitting these glass ceilings and okay. We realize we need to make a change. We'd go for the change. And it would be the wrong move. It wouldn't be the right thing to do. And ultimately we'd lose money. So yes, top-line looked great, but bottom line was not good. And it's, it's frustrating. Cause we were working really, really hard on, on this business and to find out at the end of the year, it's like, oh, we didn't make any money or we lost money or we made 2%. Like we didn't even know how much we were making until the end of the year. And our accounting put everything together. So this sustainability on that model, I mean, it is, non-existent like you have a three-year trajectory before you're out of business. And that's kind of when we hit that final glass ceiling where like, okay, we need to make a serious change.

(06:53): We need to invest in this business significantly. We need to hire a proper ops manager, someone who understands how to control a business and how to understand what profitability is and what areas of the business are we lacking in and what what areas of the business are we missing opportunity and making more money or just understanding how to build culture and, and the right type of employees and the right people to put in the right seats. We had no idea, right? So we're going to hire somebody or some force to do this for us because we just couldn't figure it out anymore. And that trajectory was running low and our patients was non-existent at that point. So we did come across a business model that worked. It was tried and it was true and other people were using it. And it was, seemed to be, seemed to be working for them and successful.

(07:44): And it had all the components we felt that we were, we were lacking on, it took us a while to convert into the new, the new model, mainly because of pride. And I remember my business partner David Steckel, he said, he's like, where's your pride? Is it in the name on your truck? Or is it in your bank account? So obviously, you know, I took a step back and thought about it for not very long and realized, well, I guess ultimately it's in the bank account. And right now I got no pride. So that, that point we're like, okay, let's do this. Let's invest in this business model. And give it a shot. I mean, we had nothing to lose at that point. We were, we were at our wit's end, something had to happen. So this was, this is what happened to us.

(08:31): And then here we are today, so I can fill in the blanks. It's going to be well, that that's the thing. And we can fill in some of the bikes. Cause I, I know the stage that you guys were, you know, having worked with you for the last five years and hearing the story of how you were searching for a better way, trying to evaluate what systems do we put in. You didn't even know which ones were the right ones to put in. And then you looked at investigating like, do I hire somebody? Do I hire a consultant to come in? And what am I going to do for a CRM? What am I going to do for PM software? How am I going to run my HR department? How am I going to do document my training processes, my construction stuff. How do I make you recognize that you needed to make all this stuff scalable and you started to do the math.

(09:20): And one of the reasons that, you know, you liked having it all done for you already is because it was something that was systematized and sustainable. You know, you could go through the exercise. We just talked about with the consultant and hiring somebody to manage all these systems and maintain them for you as you go. But this, this second, you'd get them all in place. They start to become obsolete and you have all these ongoing, you know, obligations to try and maintain them and everything like that, versus just getting, just having the ultimate, the ultimate and scalability already in place and going. So, and the fact that, you know, when you said earlier was something that was proven. I mean, I mean, that's huge because you start to think about if you're going to do all this piecemeal it, so to speak on your own, get the parts, get to pieces, maybe hire somebody, maybe bring in a consultant, maybe settle on some things that's not proven, and that can take a long time.

(10:16): So I'm sure that weighed into your decision when you were starting to think of all the different options. It absolutely. It takes, it takes a really long time because you don't realize if the, if the new application successful until well into the following year. Right. And, and it could be, it might not be successful. And then he ended up making big mistakes and losing money. So it's, it's like by having something that was proven is really the, I think one of the main reasons for the success now is, is, is knowing that look, there's a proven model. We can scale up or we can scale down. And in this business, that's great because we're, I mean, recently it's been fantastic. The economy's strong on the construction side, but there is fluctuation in that. And if we can't be flexible and if we can't make change on the fly and our business is too big and we need a certain amount of revenue to keep the lights on, then we can get into a sticky situation really easily.

(11:15): And that doesn't take very long. So by having this model, we can go big or we can come right back down to a size that can accommodate you know a bit of a recession in the economy. So having that peace of mind is, is amazing. So both work, it can scale up, we can scale it down and we're not trying to fumble and make things up as, as we progress or as we scale up or scale down, like we know this model works with both scale or D scale. One of the other major key components was the fact that if you implement a system, it could be a really successful system and tried and true. But if you're not holding yourself accountable and you take the path of least resistance, you know, you change your model a little bit to accommodate a customer, then it's completely useless.

(12:08): So we were in the early stages, we had that issue a few times where in order to get the deal, we would modify our plan. And we S we would stray from the model and it would be unsuccessful. But with this is like, we have someone that's holding us accountable and we can't stray from this model. So not only is it proven, but we're actually executing it and we're doing it line by line. We're never missing a beat. And as if we never miss a beat, there's, it's always successful. If there's any time we used to make a sidestep, and this was in the past, we don't side step anymore, but anytime we would make a little sidestep and deviate from that model, we would see that we would see that in, in the form of a concession and then a form of, of more warranty, unhappy clientele, the list goes on.

(12:58): So it's also having that, not only the model, that's scalable, but something that someone's going to hold you accountable. And that's, and that's also one of the things that I attribute a lot of success now is maintaining, holding our ground, sticking to our model the entire way through. We got our blinders on we're focused on the game plan. We're focused on the, on the end plan as well. And obviously having your operations covered is enables us to focus on the business as opposed to cleaning up the business and working in the business constantly. And that's obviously something that's going to affect future growth as well. Not being able to have the time to work on yeah. On the ops, especially on the ops side of things, with being business minded, entrepreneur focused, you know, that you get to the top of the step ladder. There's a reason why it says this is not a step.

(13:49): Hey, back to the bottom, I want to, I want to talk about a proven model because there's, there's two really interesting discussions here. There's two ways to look at it or to apply it. The first is when you're looking at doing something, the proof that you need in order to take that first step and to make a change and to implement something, and you clearly have been successful with that piece, you looked at it, you compare it to other systems and options and everything out there, and try to put it all together. And this happened to be the right one for you. And that, that was the proof you needed to give you the confidence to make the decision, go invest in your team and, and start to grow. Now, you are proving the model yourself with your team, and that's, what's given you the confidence to you.

(14:37): You've now opened three locations. You've got aspirations for many more. You've, you've developed a really interesting way to partner with existing builders or to look at growing through project managers, into, into other areas within your home province that you never would have been able to do before. So walk us through how you prove to yourself. And I think you did a little bit here. This is, you know, saying how about some of the mistakes you made, but you've now proven to yourself and to your team and to other stakeholders who are being attracted to your team, that this model works, then that you're creating new opportunities for them. That's gotta be exciting. It is very exciting. We've toyed with this, even within a layer we've toyed, we've toyed with this model. It is, it is fairly new originally. We were thinking, okay, we have this one business let's scale.

(15:30): This business let's scale this business up to 20 million with internal and with employees and increasing the amount of project managers, perhaps injecting someone that is going to be a director of construction to manage all the managers, because there's only so much bandwidth I have in managing managers. And once you get beyond five managers, you don't have the time to work on the business and also oversee managers. So as we expand, okay, let's, let's hire potentially an overhead role too, which is going to diminish our, our bottom line as well. And in order to have that additional layer of overhead, we're going to need to exceed the $20 million revenue mark, to be able to accommodate this salaried employee that doesn't necessarily isn't. It isn't necessarily a billable, a billable employee. So this hits, this hits bottom line pretty quickly. So we were toying with that model.

(16:20): And then you, every time you, every time we grow, we would step back a little bit from the day to day and have a little bit less control and have to relinquish more control to staff, basically, right? So we were going down that path and, and we're having some issues with, with retention and project managers would stay on for a few years and then they'd go another direction they get, they'd hit a glass ceiling and realize, you know what, I can do this on my own. I'm going to start my own business, or I'm going to take a completely different path and, and level up. And when our project managers, we hire a fairly high level personnel for a project managers. They have a lot of responsibility, they have a lot of skill they're high functioning people, and they tend to, you know, eventually grow to their role.

(17:08): And I don't have anywhere for them to go after project manager, project manager is the top line. Right. So so there was, we're toying with that. And I'm like, okay, so this is hard. We can't, we can't retain. And only we're seeing a turnover in, in in two years on a, on a good day. And then we're looking at having to hire new. And then who fills the gap in training the new project manager. And it was begin, it was becoming, it's just too much for us to handle and affecting bottom line. So we took a bit of a pause and, and then this is when things really took off. So we've proven in our forest hill unit, we have a recipe for success and it's right now, it's optimal. This is the size of the business. We're running around the $10 million mark.

(17:57): And this works with someone in charge of ops, someone in charge of production and sales, Evelyn and I, and then our project managers, and they're all very high level high functioning individuals very talented, very skilled. And they allow us to sort of step back and continue to just focus on honing in on, on that level of revenue and perfecting that level of revenue and having the time to improve constantly and have a better experience for our customers. And it ultimately helps increase our bottom line because we have less, less warranty, less concessions. So let's replicate this model and I can't replicate it by adding more employees. So the replica is essentially setting up another business with ownership from a project manager. So they, they get to level up from the project management level, into a director level, into an owner level. And obviously with owner bring much more accountability having skin in the game.

(18:56): So then we can take another step back and have the owners running all these different regions. So this pod, we call forest helipad. We're going to replicate this pod with additional businesses that way we're, we're working with. And we're managing owners as opposed to many, many employees. This is the path that we've taken and we're finding it's the most successful. Yes, there's a bit of, you know, there's obviously some profit share, but ultimately I'd rather share, you know, a smaller percentage of a lot of profit than than a large percentage of no profit. So this has been a huge eye-opener for us. And now we can, now we know the recipe and we can just rinse, repeat, and I don't see an end to that rinse repeat cycle. Yeah. So walk us through your next offices. And just for context, I mean, black construction was around a $3 million company five years ago, when you, when you started and, and your group now is doing 15.

(19:53): So we're, we're talking like a five times, 500% or a five X growth in five years, which is amazing, but it's just the tip of the iceberg for you because it's, it's just momentum, all the systems and the structure and foundation on place to grow. You're not, you've already bashed through the glass ceiling and you're rolling. I think the key word or expression here is level up because not first you leveled up and now you're able to, to create level uptight opportunities for every member of your team. We could Dwayne and I call it delegate and elevate through our EOS training. And you hear about it a lot, but in this competitive world of attraction where you want to bring the best project managers to you, who aren't just looking for the most, necessarily the most money, or are a temporary job, you have something amazing that you can offer them, which is that level up opportunity.

(20:56): So to me, this podcast has started to feel like we should be calling it level up. Yeah, well, the level up in the optimize, I mean, the part that struck me, and I know it from, from talking with members of your team and, and Evelyn is that you guys really in this last couple of years have worked so hard towards optimizing. Again, you've found something that you guys know, works, proven system. You trust it. And, you know, instead of constantly dabbling off into trying new stuff and throwing stuff up against the wall, you know, you're, you guys say, Hey, you've identified the types of projects you want to do. You've identified the types of clients you want to work for. You've identified the types of project managers. You need to bring into the fold to grow your business. And you can optimize that and repeat that.

(21:42): I mean, that, that's, that's gotta be huge from just the standpoint of you don't feel scatterbrained and essentially you're, you're focused when, when you guys are thinking that way, is that right? If for sure it keeps the blinders on, like we're not, we're not as distracted. Like we know, we know generally what the model is, and as long as we keep improving and we, we always call it CNI, we always want to improve. We have a weekly meeting with all of our staff and we go through constant CNI, like, who has an issue? What's the issue? How can we make it better? You know, it's okay to fail, but you can't repeat that cycle. We need to constantly improve that cycle and come and improve our operations. Culture's a big part of it as well. And we realized that putting the, putting the right players in the right seats is, is really, really important.

(22:27): So as we, even as we expand into other regions and with other owners, we want to make sure that the, the, the new owner is doing the job that they're most proficient at. And then we can build that business around that owner. So if the new owner of that business is better at sales, let's get them in the sales seat, or if they're better at ops, let's get them in the ops seat and then hire someone to do more, more of a sales role. So it's, it's just constantly finding ways to improve. And, and every aspect of the business internally, externally production, operations, culture, everything, every week, if we can set a goal to improve some small thing, we just keep moving this in the right direction. And then we're, we're taking challenges and sometimes, you know, small failures and turning them into opportunities for how can we make this better?

(23:17): How can we improve it? And it makes us a more competitive business than in this market by constantly wanting to do something better and to try to make every fail a win. Yeah. Th that's super important. And always working on that business, keeping your blinders on, looking at your ten-year plan, looking at what your goal is. Are we on track is the most important part of it is I can't, I can't stress enough working, getting yourself out of the business and working on it every day. It's the most important thing. Here's your nugget right there.

(23:51): A quick reminder that the best way to get the most out of this podcast is to engage with the builder nuggets community, visit our website@buildernuggets.com and follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

(24:05): You're clearly excited about a lot of stuff. What's next for you guys, like walk us through where you are now. So third location, what kind of stuff can you share with us or new ideas? Can you share with us about where you want to go and who you want, who you would like to connect with in growing your team? Yeah, we've, I think we're we're right now, we've, we've been attracting some, some high skill players and we're sort of using forest hill as a bit of an incubator we have with forest Hills, we have with big, nice projects and we can attract a higher level of builder, and it allows us to train them in our model to show them, show them how we operate, show them our culture, get them excited, build a rapport with these people to make sure that they're going to enjoy working with myself and Evelyn as well.

(24:54): So we call that forest hill is essentially the incubator. And then when we find that the right player and someone that wants to work with us, we have the opportunity to expand. And that expansion really, really is endless to a certain degree. Right now. We have, we're working with, with north York, we're working with Markham and we've, we're, we're looking at closing something on, on a new location. That'll be live in about a month, so that that's almost, we're almost there like the final strokes on paperwork there. And then we also have another project manager that's interested in opening up another location. So we're at we'll be at four locations plus forest hill before the end of 2022. I don't want to grow too quick. We want to make sure that there's a bit of organic growth and we can build some, we can further to build our relationship with our new partners and not, not overwhelm anybody and make sure we're not hiring too quickly.

(25:49): The long-term goal for us is to be more of a consultative with all of our businesses and continue to sort of step back, still, still be, you know, visionary and still improve and make sure that everyone's, everyone's doing the best, best they can. And I'm ensuring ops are on point and production's on point and we're delivering a consistent experience for all of our, all of our customers and a consistent level of quality across the board. We still want to be very much involved in, but ultimately step back, consult our owners and have the opportunity to, to even look at, you know, other, other investments, personal investments, that type of thing. Cause it, it becomes as you guys know, being builders in the past is that it is, it is all very consuming. And if you're working in the business, you don't have, you don't have the bandwidth to look at other opportunities or manage your personal portfolio or buy rental or do whatever in this. This is ultimately going to allow us to be non-operational by the time I'm 50, not sit back. I mean, I don't plan on stopping work. I mean, I love working and still got lots of life left. I'd like to think by the time of 50, but I definitely don't want to be working operationally in these businesses. I want to be working on all these businesses and making sure that they're completely optimized and, and working at you know, the best possible caliber that they can building towards freedom. Yeah.

(27:19): I'm glad you touched on the piece around continuing to maintain that client experience. And in fact, knowing your history so well, you guys have elevated your client experience. You've implemented some things around, well, not only your client experience, but the experience that you deliver to your trades, the experience that you deliver to your, your market partners and you know, all the, all the people, employees, everything, even the community we watched, you've done all of this while you were still growing, because I'm sure there were listeners out there going, okay, this is the classic thing. No, you grow too fast and you can't sustain it all. But you've, this is when we talk about proof. This is what you're proven to yourself is that you've got the 50 lanes of super highway now to expand on. And you're only using five of them. So that, that's the classic thing that people get into as it, you know, I'm going, when's my next glass ceiling, but because you've got the infrastructure, because you've got a marketing team in place and accounting team, or that's all looked after for you all this, you know, systems, processes, everything is mapped out.

(28:28): Now you can just get on and run and the layers of accountability are already in place. This is how you are able to retain that quality control. And yet using those amazing people, you're attracting put your own personalized spin that it has grown up in the forest hill incubator. So it's amazing and exciting to see. I wanted to ask you too. You mentioned when you were talking about, you know, when you're looking at growing another location, you're talking to a builder. I know from Corey's background, Corey did have his own business. So that's the case where you partnered with a builder and went into random through the incubator and started out right away. What advice do you have for, for other builders who want to partner with each other or collaborate together? Do you see opportunity for that in a, in the marketplace? Do you see that as an opportunity that you want to continue to grow?

(29:27): Because we we've largely been talking about project managers here, but there's also a huge opportunity. We talked about it in an earlier show for builders that are like actively expanding, have all these, all this stabilization and optimization and place to work with builders who, who may not be the, who are either up in commerce or who are at the tail end of their career. And don't have the energy, the bandwidth to put all this in place. Like what makes an ideal candidate for you when you look at growing your business? That's a, that's a great question. We've, we've toyed with a couple of different scenarios. One being, you know, networking and meeting other, other builders that are at a reasonable caliber, but struggling to grow and understand what type of systems they need to put into place to be successful. Cause I've been there.

(30:19): Like, I, I know that model and I know it, it's, it's really hard to find a, not a lot of people ever do find it. And they're just stuck running, working in their business forever at the three to $5 million mark. And can't get past that mark. That's a really hard, that's a really hard ceiling to get through exceed, truthfully, even getting to the 3 million mark. Breaking through that. Mark was really, was really hard. We have to make a lot of infrastructure changes to accommodate that kind of revenue in that many projects so that, you know, that's a great candidate because these are all, these are all hustlers out there. Like they're hardworking guys they're passionate, they've grown their business to a reasonable size. But they can't get through to that next level. That would be a great candidate for us to partner with because we can give them the tools to get them to that level that they've want to try to achieve right.

(31:07): To get to that successful profitable 3 million or successful profitable 5 million or beyond, right? Like it, it's one thing to have a high revenue. And then, you know, truthfully, it's not that hard to have a high revenue. What's the hard part is actually putting, keeping money, have an NOI at the end of the year, that's positive. It's such a tight margin business that, you know, it's, you know, you do $10 million a year and you know, seven or 8% of it is considered in this industry to retain as an NOI seven or 8% is considered high. If everything goes perfect, if everything goes perfect, right. And if one or two things go wrong, Hey, zero NOI like it's that easy. So without having a tight eye on ops and that it's such an important part of the business and a lot of people neglect it, cause they're so busy out there selling and making sure that construction's not bad and in dealing with the warranty and unhappy customers and it's, it's a grind and you can't, you can't do both.

(32:08): It's just not possible to do both. So how do you scale? Right? You join a team that has the recipe that has the scalable model already in place. And that, that is going to give them the tools they need to do the things that they want with their business. So that's a great candidate. The other candidate for us is, is also just that the project manager that doesn't necessarily have a business in the past, but it has the gumption and the drive to be part of something bigger. We have a lot of experience at this point and we've done, we've done all different types of business models. And we have the resources of, of every one of 170 other businesses constantly wanting to improve and trying to perfect process and systems. And that's an ongoing thing on a weekly basis. Like how can you compete with that right then the other, the other, I guess, the opportunity.

(33:01): And we haven't really, we haven't really explored this model yet to be honest, but it's something that we're toying with is that there's someone that has a reasonably successful business. And they're looking at a, you know, a five-year trajectory before retirement and they want to make something that they could monetize and not a lot of construction business, or you can really monetize at the end of the day, at the end of the day, it's, it's, what's a word it's worth the jobs that the guy has on the table of the girl. And it may be the cell phone number, like beyond that, like what sort of purchase it's, there's no real business there and, and creating a real business out of a construction company or, or turning a general contractor into a business owner. You can sell that. And that could be another opportunity for us to look at too, is someone wanting to get out of the business and look at retirement, but they want to sell their business for some worth. And we can create, we can turn a construction company into real business that you can actually sell. You guys are, you know, you guys are really embracing the model. And and I love the fact that as you said, whoever you're partnering with other business owners or the project manager, you guys are helping to

(34:12): Show them the true path to business ownership, freedom, because anybody can find a path to another job, or, you know, you can start your own job. I mean, jobs are done. You can create an endless job, but you were truly showing folks how to be, you know, true, true business owners in that sense. And that's really cool to see. Thank you. Yeah. It's where everyone wants to be. Like, it's that, you know, having financial freedom and owning your own shop is, is great as well. Lots of pros, some cons, but let's eliminate those cons with tight operations and process and happy employees and a great culture. And it's a, it's a really fun industry to be a part of and constant never-ending improvement. Right. It's cool. We're talking about leveling up. We're really talking about elevating, elevating other people. And I know in your conversations, you look at how, how do we, how do we put our energy and resources behind this person?

(35:06): What could they do with it versus, you know, what's, what are they going to do for me? It's, it's the exact opposite. It's, it's going through those explorations to determine if we invested in this person, if we connected them with access to all of these things, what could they do with it? And then the proof comes because each time this is happening, whether it's elevating Avalon to the point where she can run part of the business from Barbados or elevate and Cory from project manager to a general to path, to ownership, they're proving to you what they can do and they're leveling up all around. So that's, that's super cool. But tell me how, how has your life leveled up? It's much different. I always found going through the, the growth of the business from ground zero to where we are now, there would always be these sort of stages where you think they were temporary, but they would become permanent.

(36:01): Like, you know, I was on the tools a little bit when we first started and sweeping and cleaning and putting the odd stud in place and, you know, correcting trade mistakes and, or mismanaged trade mistakes. I dunno, whoever, whoever wants to take accountability for that, I'll take it well, it's about builders and it's always the builders mistake. That's the one that's our job is just being the accountable ones. So extreme ownership on that, for sure. There's always a way to improve and, and mitigate that. But and then all of a sudden I'd be in the office more and selling more and not on the tools anymore. And then that kind of stayed to take a step back and be like, oh, wait a minute. This isn't temporary. Like we've broken through this ceiling and here we go, like we're now at a different different level.

(36:45): And then let's fast forward a couple of years and, you know, well into our, our growth model with, with the layer is I'm based largely in charge of sales and production, but because we've figured out the importance of having the right people in the right seats, I quickly became redundant in a lot of areas in the production side. My managers know more than I do about construction they're then at every day they've been in this industry, this isn't just a stepping stone to a tech career. These guys are in this because they're passionate about business and they have the right skill set to, to be successful in this business. And I don't have to worry about them taking accountability and getting the job done at a highest level of quality, and also to be able to work with our clients to maintain a good client experience.

(37:38): And I touched base with my managers. We touch base with our clients every once in a while, but now I'm at a point where I visit sites on, on milestones and just mainly out of pure interest and curiosity and passion to build beautiful things. But me being there every day is not necessarily the only reason I'd be there every day is because I want to hang out with the, with the team and see the trades and that kind of thing. But it's also, we've expanded from, let's say doing three to 5 million, and I've working 80 hour weeks working in the business. You come home, you price jobs, you do administrative work, you enter everything into QuickBooks and hope it's right and reconcile some accounts. And then it's 11:00 PM and you go to bed and you wake up at six and you're on the job site for seven and you're grinding and you're going, and you're going crazy.

(38:26): And you're spinning now to where we work. Evelyn. So Monday and Friday are purely based on working on the business 100% of that, of those days. So we have basically like a full day dedicated to working on the business Monday and Friday, Tuesday to Thursday will be time allocated for some site visits. I'm chatting with the chatting with the project managers getting caught up, making sure health reports are there reviewing projects with them. And then Friday is another day for, for just purely strategy as well. And ultimately what we want to do is make that eventually keep closing that gap and work on the business Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, and eventually just all week working on the business, nothing internal anymore, but we've gone from, like I said earlier, we're doing three to five, 5 million in revenue working 80 hour weeks, grinding, not enjoying life so much and being really hesitant to take a holiday.

(39:27): You just come back and there's just the work just piled up and you just can never get on top of it. And that's a terrible situation. I, I don't, I don't wish that on anybody to a point where now we're doing 15 million and I'm working, I'm working on on a layer are probably 30, 30 or so hours a week. And then we have reserved 10 hours a week for strategy and other and other opportunities and other other investments, you know, I'm home to visit the kids. We have, we have a young kids, three, five, and eight, and it's, it's been really great to be able to watch them grow up. Like for the first couple of years of my first born, I didn't really see her that often. And that was always a regret of mine. And now that I get to be home for whenever I want really, it's fantastic to be able to take them to soccer, take them to dance, or just be home with the kids and enjoy these few years that we have left of, of our, our little kids before they become annoying teenagers.

(40:25): And not only have you, we reduce the amount of hours you're working, but I assume they're probably a lot less stressful hours. Oh, they're well, they're enjoyable hours. Now. We laugh. We enjoy like we do, I do stuff like this. I get to chat with great people like you and not working as frantically as we used to. So it just seems like a, I feel like an adult now, you know, like it just like I have a proper business and it's running and it doesn't need me, like my old business did and a much happy, happier person now. And yeah, I, well, you're doing it, man. And congratulations, you mentioned level up a few times, but you can see that everybody has been elevated. It's one of the challenges or the, or the fears is that something is going to suffer when you grow.

(41:14): And it's either going to be one of the freedoms or it's going to be time, or it's going to be the client experience details are going to get missed. And you're proving that the exact opposite is true when you're bringing the right people onto your team with the right systems, right processes, the right structure. Everybody gets a better experience. Everybody's experiences elevated and clients aren't feeling abandoned because instead of getting the attention of an owner, who's distracted, they're getting the attention of a dedicated team who understands the details of what they need. And everybody can feel good about the relationship like we've watched your, your caliber of everything has gone up your relationships with your, you know, the architecture firms that you're now doing business with the client base, the job size, everything is being amplified and growing on every single level. And it's not just because of a, of a great economy.

(42:12): because you have the, the ability to support and to elevate every single level of your, of your company. And you're the kind of leader who can recognize it. You're, you're attracting a great team. You're investing in your people and they're turning around and investing in you so way to go, man, we can't wait to have you back and hear what's happening next. And, you know, see what six offices looks like, 10 offices look like. That's that's pretty exciting for anybody, you know, for any of you listeners out there who want to collaborate with another owner like Andrew, or you've ever thought about expanding, or you've ever thought about, Hey, how do I attract somebody with an expansion mindset like Andrew? Because you may be somebody who's looking at what the next step of business looks like for you. What's the best way to connect with you, Andrew?

(43:07): Yes, email's great. Andrew.Black@Layerhomes.Com, or you can check us out on any one of our Instagram handles layer homes for us still you'd be able to get ahold of me. I manage that account largely. So you can always reach out to us as well for anybody who wants to have a private conversation with you, we can we can definitely put that together. We love hearing everyone's stories, whether you're someone who's looking to grow, looking to optimize, looking to elevate Andrew, we'll have some some great advice for you. And then we'll be here to hear your own personal story as well. So thanks for sharing this and future time with this man. Absolutely. It's been fun. Absolutely. Thanks Andrew. You guys, everything well-deserved you guys worked really

(43:53): Hard. So if anybody out there has got any direct questions, you can certainly contact us, go to the website, post your questions in there. If you've got some specific, want to directly ask a question of us or of Andrew, we'll be sure to get that info to him. So thanks again, man. Keep doing what you're doing. Thanks so much, guys.

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