My story – God only knows
I am 41 years old. I opened my first construction company when I was 18 years old. I started with a little red Chevy S-10 pickup with a straight 6 engine. Boy, this truck wouldn’t give up. As soon as I entered the circle where I grew up, my father (who has a bigger heart than anyone) said: “Here, son, take my credit card and go buy me a pair of stairs.” I left! I took a toolbox and some stairs to a world that will chew you up unless you have determination and a positive attitude of not taking no for an answer.
These were some of the best moments of my life. I didn’t reply to anyone, or so I thought. You learn pretty quickly that you always have to answer to someone, someday. I responded to my clients. Do you think your boss is tough? He tries to deal with different people every day who owe him thousands of dollars and will hold them back because he broke them. As any business owner knows, you need to quickly assess your customer and determine the best way to approach this sale with minimal risk. My father always said, “It’s not about how much you earn, it’s about what you foolishly throw away.” Everyone has had someone in their life make a statement, a gesture, or a vote of confidence that sticks in the back of your mind forever, and we use that to overcome life’s obstacles. I have been fortunate to have many mentoring moments in my life.
Are you still with me? He is about to get juicy. I ran that business from when I was 18 until I was 36, so from 1991 to 2007 I operated my own business. Yes, I got over the staggering statistics of business failure. Nine out of ten new businesses fail in the first 2 years. The ten percent that make it, well, fifty percent of them don’t make it to five years. Hats off to anyone with the guts to risk it all. For sixteen years, my business operated my way. I controlled marketing, tracked finances, sold jobs, provided customer support, set up jobs, managed crews, purchased supplies, and everything else that builds a complete sales cycle. Sure, I had hired workers, and I’m grateful for the people in my life, but without constant direction, it’s over. Fast! Plain and simple. You have to get up early and you can’t go to bed until you have the next plan of attack scheduled.
Developed a routine of providing high quality work with exceptional client follow-up. This is a technique that seems pretty obvious, but I quickly learned that my competition wasn’t returning calls, showing up on time, finishing jobs, or providing after-sales service. If I did that, then I did. It worked. Most of my business was repeat and referral. If anyone was thinking of a home remodeling project in Bensalem, they were using me or thinking of using me. In early 2007, I was approached by a longtime friend who was also a contractor. He knew I was a workhorse and for years he asked me to join forces with him. I was always reluctant because I wasn’t sure I could wake up and honestly answer a question: Is this person going to work as hard as me? I knew the answer was no. But in early 2007, he approached me with a tempting offer. I took it. I wish things had worked out, but it was only 18 months before I had to buy it. This joint venture cost me close to five hundred thousand dollars. This is why.
We all know what happened in 2007: the economy fell off a cliff and everyone squeezed their wallets. Construction business generally rebounded in September. Well, in the middle of October, I knew something was wrong and this was worse than anything I could remember. I remember opening the office door one morning around 4:45 am and saying to myself, “I have to close up shop and do something completely different.” He wanted to open an Internet-based business. I needed something that would generate a steady stream of income 24 hours a day. At the time, I was still with my partner and the purchase did not occur. “Got it,” I told myself. I can open a fun online sports betting site that is free but gives you the opportunity to win real money. “How can I do that”? Well, the internet is huge on advertising, so I thought if I offered people 10 cents free to start gambling while giving them the opportunity to increase their risk by viewing ads, then I could allow them to legally gamble without creating risk. So for three months I worked on the site while continuing to help my struggling construction company.
This is what I did. During the day, she handed out flyers on a Honda scooter offering low-cost gutter cleaning, and at night she worked on site. Gutter cleaning gave me the opportunity to meet new homeowners and hopefully opportunities to get bigger jobs. Ooh, he did. One day, handing out flyers, I saw a roofing and siding company with over 50 workplace signs on residential property yards. I thought I was dreaming. “How in this economy could a contractor be doing so many projects?” I did some research and found out that a hail storm had landed six months prior and they were repairing all the damage and getting paid from the insurance money. wow! I was impressed. I immediately thought, “I need to do this.” And I did, bigger and better than anyone.
In 2008, he didn’t take no for an answer. I learned very quickly how they were doing it and was determined to get my share of the pie. In three months, I sold over 50 jobs in my own backyard. All the local contractors were angry because they didn’t understand what was going on. Suddenly every house in every neighborhood was being remodeled by two companies. I had an advantage. I was local and people like to use local contractors.
That was when it all started. That was the year I took my company from the gutter to glory. In March 2009, a severe hail storm hit the Lehigh Valley. This report was in the news. At the time, I didn’t have all the sophisticated resources that I eventually acquired. However, I was able to grab a latitude and longitude post from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) website. He knew exactly where the damage was located. It was 8:30 pm 30 minutes after the storm hit, I cold called people who lived in that area. I told them I was a meteorological researcher and asked them to provide me with a summary of what happened. What I heard was music to my ears. People said, “My windows looked like they were going to break, my car was dented, I thought my house was under machine gun fire.” I was so excited I couldn’t sleep.
The next day, I drove into the center of the storm and immediately noticed hail damage to roofs and siding everywhere I looked. I thought this opportunity was perfect. I had just gotten back on my feet learning the ins and outs of my hometown, and now this storm was only an hour away, so I could easily handle this opportunity. I sent out an all-points newsletter to everyone I knew who could help. I remember standing on a homeowner’s roof and saying to myself, “I’m going to do every roof in this town.” We didn’t do all the houses, but we did thousands of them. We went from a million dollar a year company to a six million dollar a year company in less than 10 months.
It gets even better. The following year, after we had already bookmarked the company, another storm hit 5 miles from where we were already working. I could not believe it. I was so excited and thought this was too good to be true. We had hundreds of people working who brought in fifty to seventy-five thousand dollars a day. The following year we reported nearly fourteen million dollars in damage from home repairs. My personal tax return for one year was double what I used to make in one year. Did you know? It wasn’t worth it.
This is why. I took control and put God aside. It’s that easy. I’m the guilty. Sure, I can go on and on about how people took advantage of me or how the government came in and fined me and the list goes on and on. But the truth is that the only reality is that it was not God’s plan. I spent the next two years cleaning up a mess. If it wasn’t for my family and a few loyal people, I would be in the hospital dealing with anxiety issues. I have always had Christ in my life. My wife and I have always raised our children with the understanding of putting God first and everything else will follow, so I was very confused as to why this was happening to me.
It is extremely difficult to see the end of the road when problems arise. Your mind is filled with fear. consumes you He wasn’t used to this magnitude of fear and he knew it was wrong. I started a new trip that was not related to work. I began to do an examination of conscience, asking many questions and trying to find the answers in the Bible. It didn’t take long to understand why all this is happening. God was giving me a reality check. He was basically saying, “I gave you everything and I can take it all if you’re not ready,” so I trusted Him to get me through those tough times. It wasn’t easy and I’m not out of the woods yet, but I’m on the right track and it feels good to do it a second time with God by my side.
I am currently operating a business in the same industry with over 90% less overhead and labor with a 10% increase in net profit margin going straight to the bottom line. I am a public adjuster. I am extremely proud to be a public adjuster. I have written over 3,500 claims as a contractor and I can say with certainty that if something happens to your home, you are better off calling a public adjuster. If not, it’s like asking the IRS to file your tax return. Without a public adjuster, you will lose up to 80% of what is owed to you, leaving you severely disadvantaged.
If you are going through something difficult right now, no matter what it is, you need to pick up the Bible and get the answers straight from the Creator. Otherwise, you will continue to live without comfort or hope.
God bless you,