Forty under 40 Q&A: Andrew Lopez
(Photos by Amy Martin)
Andrew Lopez, 39
Vice President, Cajun Constructors
- Played key role in vaulting Stuart & Company from a small presence to major Baton Rouge contractor.
- Founded Bennett Builders, which quickly grew before being sold in 2013.
- Responsible for $20 million business unit at Cajun Constructors.
- National ABC Young Professional of the Year finalist in 2016.
- Three projects won both Associated Builders and Contractors Excellence in Construction awards but also National Eagle awards—the highest national honor for such projects.
Active in several construction-related groups and is chairman of the board for the local Associated Builders and Contractors.
NAME ONE BOOK THAT HAS INSPIRED YOU PROFESSIONALLY.
Good to Great by Jim Collins.
WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
I wanted to be an Air Force fighter pilot like my old man; little did I know that would never pan out because when I became an adult I developed a very real phobia of heights.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB, HOW OLD WERE YOU AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
When I was fourteen I worked a summer for a little mom-and-pop automated carwash drying and detailing vehicles by hand. I quickly learned the power of work ethic is the great equalizer in this country.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST JOB YOU’VE EVER HAD?
In college, I had a pressing need for some extra cash one Christmas season so I worked nights as a stock boy for Bath and Body Works in the Mall of Louisiana. Needless to say, the fragrance Juniper Breeze doesn’t bring back fond memories!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE FOR A BUSINESS LUNCH IN BATON ROUGE, AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DISH THERE?
Either location of The Little Village—the bread is tough to beat.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Being a father and a husband.
HOW DO YOU GET PUMPED UP BEFORE A BIG MEETING, PRESENTATION OR PITCH?
There is no replacement for technical competency and practice. I get geeked-out rehearsing on my own.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST FULFILLING MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
Being installed this past January as Chairman of the Board for ABC Pelican Chapter.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
Microsoft Outlook’s Task Management tool is amazing.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THE HARD WAY?
People don’t always appear to be who they are. Principles, integrity and character are rare attributes in this world. Hold on to those in your life that have all three.
HOW DO YOU TYPICALLY DRESS FOR WORK: CASUAL? PROFESSIONAL? BUSINESS CASUAL? OTHER?
WHAT PART OF YOUR JOB DO YOU LOVE? WHAT PART DO YOU HATE?
I love being in the middle of a deal! I hate my email in-box!
WHAT IS THE BEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE EVER GOTTEN FROM A COLLEAGUE OR BOSS?
Cajun’s entrepreneurial culture empowers business unit leaders, such as myself, with operational freedom to make decisions like principals of our organizations as long as it is in the framework of a few guiding principles. The trust instilled in me by the Grigsby family to represent the Cajun name in that way every day is the greatest complement a boss can give.
MAC OR PC?
ARE YOU ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA? IF SO, ON WHICH PLATFORMS ARE YOU MOST ACTIVE?
Not at all.
HOW MANY TEXTS DO YOU SEND ON AN AVERAGE DAY? HOW MANY EMAILS?
Texts: 15-20; emails: 30-40.
HOW LOW WILL YOU ALLOW YOUR REMAINING PHONE OR COMPUTER BATTERY LIFE GET (IN %) BEFORE YOU HAVE AN ANXIETY ATTACK?
I have no issues running it down to fumes! In fact, I secretly look forward to the quiet moments when the phone is dead.
HOW MANY UNREAD MESSAGES ARE IN YOUR INBOX RIGHT NOW?
Zero. I just cleared them out.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE APP AT THE MOMENT?
Waze, with Uber as a close second. Both are life savers!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT OF THE PAST DECADE?
Hands down the smart phone.
WHAT TECHNOLOGY DO YOU WISH WAS NEVER INVENTED?
Social media; it has killed interpersonal relating and distorts reality.
WHAT TIME DO YOU GET UP ON WORKDAY MORNINGS?
Whatever time it takes to get the job done!
BREAKFAST AT HOME? BREAKFAST ON THE GO? BREAKFAST AT YOUR DESK? NO BREAKFAST AT ALL?
All of the above; it just depends on the day and the mood.
THE SAYING GOES: ‘BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.’ SPECIFICALLY, WHAT ARE YOU ‘BEING’ TO MAKE BATON ROUGE BETTER?
In June of this year, under my leadership as Chairman of the Board of the local Associated Builders and Contractors Pelican Chapter (ABC), the association adopted a five-year strategic plan aptly named The Merit Shop Blueprint. This comprehensive plan will better position the association to accomplish its mission by positively effecting workforce development, the construction business climate and free market principles in the state for years to come.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU WERE “GROWN UP?”
When the recovery period from a hangover went to two full days.
WHAT ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS ABOUT?
WHO FASCINATES YOU?
Our country’s Founding Fathers.
WHICH FICTIONAL CHARACTER DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH?
Although not fictional but portrayed in a movie; James J. Braddock in Cinderella Man. Something about a humble father, husband and underdog getting up every day working hard and fighting for his family is relatable.
Toss-up between a good Old Fashioned and good dirty Martini.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BAND OR SONG?
Band–Pearl Jam; song–Wish You Were Here.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
Saving Private Ryan.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Don’t live like you are running out of time; stop and smell the roses; have the courage to experience new things.
Yes, a cat and a dog—both females along with the rest of my household.
I enjoy cooking, kayak fishing; cards and boating.
TELL US ABOUT A MOMENT THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE.
At 30 years old, on a Christmas Eve morning in 2009, two roads diverged: I decided to take the one less traveled and opened my own business. That has made all the difference.
WHAT CONCERNS YOU MOST ABOUT THE FUTURE?
The current state of politics in this country coupled with the constant attack from Government on personal liberties and the free market.
WHAT GIVES YOU THE MOST HOPE ABOUT THE FUTURE?
My two beautiful daughters, Sophie and Olivia.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE FOR FUTURE FORTY UNDER 40 HONOREES?
If not you, then who? If not now, then when?
DO YOU PLAN TO BE IN THE CAPITAL REGION FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? WHY OR WHY NOT?
Yes, I am where I want to be professionally for the long-term.
IF NAMED KING FOR A DAY, WHAT IS ONE CHANGE YOU WOULD MAKE IN BATON ROUGE?
I would solve the traffic problem.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN BATON ROUGE; WHAT WORKS AND WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT?
Good but a long way to be great. Until we can trust government and start thinking big and creatively about education, workforce development, crime and infrastructure as a collective, I’m afraid good is all we will ever be.