Position: Vice President
Company: Group Industries
Age: 56 (going on 9!)
Family: Baby of five siblings
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
In the news:
With 2018 revenue of $89 million, up slightly from the year previous, Group Industries was ranked No. 59 on Business Report’s latest Top 100 private companies list, released July 16. The company has been heavily involved in the transformation of downtown’s greenspaces in recent years, having built The Crest at Galvez Plaza, City Hall plaza and Repentance Park.
What was your very first job, how old were you and what was the biggest takeaway from the experience?
My first job was turning on the watering system at Webb Park Golf Course at 11 p.m. and turning it off at 4 a.m. at the age of 12 during my summer break. After the third day, I didn’t wake up with the alarm at 3:45 a.m. and every green on the front nine flooded! Needless to say, management was not happy—and I didn’t have to wake up at 3:45 a.m. for the rest of that summer!
What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?
I wake up at 5 a.m., thank Jesus immediately and start my routine. I fix and drink coffee while reading through devotionals and scripture. Once I pray, I take a shower and get going. This enables each day to get off to the best possible start!
As vice president of Group Industries, you oversee business development at offices in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Beaumont and Houston. What’s your management strategy to ensure employees at each office are on the same page and working towards the same goals?
Open communication is possible with different offices because of technology. Through weekly meetings with project managers, using video conferencing in other offices, we are able to have real time conversations about clients and projects, thus making sure we are constantly seeking the right types of projects for Group’s capabilities. We also have the ability to intercom through our phone system with all offices, so constant contact is much easier. Lastly, our business development team works directly with our project managers to keep them informed and involved in the sales process. Those associates are rock stars and make client development much easier.
How has technology disrupted your industry over the past decade, and how has your company evolved to adapt and take advantage of new opportunities?
Technology hasn’t disrupted our industry, it has only enhanced and strengthened it. Real-time reporting on all aspects of the construction project has been the best advantage technology has provided. Providing the Group team with real-time answers to issues allows us to provide our clients with the best construction services possible.
You were recently named the 2019 chairman of Associated Builders and Contractors-Pelican Chapter, for which you previously worked as director of member services (1995-2000) before joining Group Industries in 2002. What are your top priorities as chairman this year?
Mainly to get it out of the ditch my predecessor ran it in … just kidding! Four years ago, Glen Redd was chair and began the process of aligning our chapters strategic goals to ABC national strategic goals. That process continued with Andy Lopez and Trey Crawford. This year, we have tackled not only continuing, we married it with aligning our chapter bylaws to the strategic plan, thus ensuring the next generation will desire to be as involved as this generation has been. Also, we have undertaken a plan to design and build a new state of the art training and skills enhancement center in our Lake Charles service area. With the help of our industry partners, SLCUC, we are moving toward accomplishing our goal of breaking ground on this facility. Other than that, I’m just trying not to mess it up too much!
We hear you played some college basketball for Phillips College before transferring to LSU. What are the greatest lessons you learned from playing basketball that you apply to your career?
You can be slow, fat and not have much talent, yet by outworking your opposition and working smart, you can achieve any goal set. I always wanted to play in the NBA, though at 6’1, I was much too short to play power forward which was where I belonged. Finesse was not a talent I possessed back then.
What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way?
Listening—it’s the reason God gave us two ears and one mouth!
What’s something about your job or company that might surprise people?
We built Towne Square, The Crest—which is the venue where Live After Five and other events are held—City Hall Plaza Green space and Repentance Park! We are very proud to have played a role in the revitalization of the downtown greenspace.
What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?
When my back is healthy, I love playing golf and working out. Spending time with friends and loved ones comes in a very close second. And, I’ve never met a happy hour I didn’t like!
You’re taking me out to a business lunch in Baton Rouge. Where are you most likely to take me and what do you recommend I order?
Most likely I will take you to Ruth’s Chris and recommend anything on the menu, it’s all good. (Hopefully Chris Bachman reads this comment and I get some brownie points!)
What’s one of the smartest purchases you’ve ever made? What’s one of the dumbest?
The smartest is the newest iPhone edition, though a dumb operator is not good for a smart phone! The dumbest would be a 70-inch TV. I’m not around enough to watch it, and mostly it just collects dust.
What kind of vehicle do you drive and what do you think it says about your personality?
I drive a black GMC Yukon. What that says about my personality, I have no idea. Most people would say I don’t have a personality!
What’s one of the luckiest things that has ever happened to you?
That rugged cross at Calvary—and my next breath!
What is something you are absolutely determined to do in life?
Leave my little circle of influence better off. My mom always told me: “Son, you’re never completely useless! You can always serve as a horrible example.” I think I have achieved thus far.