Springfield Business Journal: What has been key to your recent growth?
Cody Ritter: Our customers, we call them the owners – whoever is building the building. About 75% of our volume of work right now is repeat business. That is what’s driven our growth.
We’re very thorough. We’re a little bit heavy on the paperwork side. We update schedules each week and give a look ahead so the owners know what to expect. That’s something the owners love. We try not to put a superintendent on two different projects.
SBJ: What has the company’s growth enabled you to do?
Ritter: We’ve grown in staff to adjust. We’ve been able to grow and hire very quality people. At any given time, we’ve got a dozen projects going. With that volume of work, a lot of those guys are management guys in the field. As we grow, it enables us to take on larger projects. People get more comfortable with us. Now that we’re almost 4 years old, we’re getting more opportunities for larger projects.
SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth?
Ritter: It would be growth outside of Springfield. We’re just starting. The owners have asked us to go out of Springfield, but a lot of subcontractors aren’t able to go out. As you step out, there are subcontractors we don’t know. It’s somewhat of a growing pain.
SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable?
Ritter: We can sustain this growth. I don’t know it’ll be quite as rapid as it has been. We’re getting calls daily with bigger jobs, better jobs, more work. We’re not going to explode the way we did the last three years because we were brand new. We’re getting calls daily from architects that we didn’t know.
Happy owners and architects talk to each other, and if you are truly happy with your general contractor experience then you’re going to tell others.
I think we’ll do $25 million this year. Percentagewise, it will be less. We’ve got most of those already under contract.
SBJ: Can you grow too fast?
Ritter: That’s not a huge fear. If you’re not growing, you’re doing something wrong. You’ve got to always be open to grow; you’ve got to challenge yourself. But there again, it takes the right people to do it. If you’re confident in your staff, growing is not scary.
SBJ: Where is the tipping point?
Ritter: I hope we never find it. The tipping point would be if your staff is overloaded. It’s easy to do. You’re going to miss stuff. You’re going to lose money. There’s a fine balance there between knowing your staff, their capabilities and when they’re too full. You’ve got to have communication with those guys. That’s key.
You’ve got to look at the market, too. Right now, there are a lot of bond issues out there. The market is about to get really saturated with those projects. There’s a lot of private work and a whole lot of school work going on. You’ve got to know what you can handle and what your subcontractors can handle.
SBJ: What is the worst business advice you’ve received?
Ritter: A pet peeve of mine is the saying, “It’s just business.” It’s really not. It’s personal. It’s affecting somebody somewhere. I try to keep that in mind as you’re dealing with issues throughout the days.
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.