The PAVERART Construction Project: A Foundation for Our Next Chapter....
Updated: Mar 12, 2020
Business are loaded with "chicken and egg" challenges. When it comes to growth, 3 main ones come to mind:
Do we wait to turn on marketing investments before our cash flow improves, or do we need the incremental sales to improve the cash flow?
Do we increase our capacity before we really need it, or do we do it NOW and than turn on a real "push" to grow with real confidence and aggressiveness?
Talent: Do we build out new capabilities NOW, in areas we are not experts in, or do we wait until its absolutely needed?
PAVERART has faced these challenges for over 16 years building custom paver designs.....or like we say "PAVERART." The key part of this sentence is 16 years.
Any business that gets through start up phase and endures for over a decade is generally considered viable, and I would argue "successful."
Of course, the devil is always in one's own definition of success, a business's goals and how best to create a stronger, more vibrant and enduring business over the NEXT decade.
Enter a short story, the last 2 weeks of 2019 and early January 2020. Many companies coast into the year end, turn their attention to holidays, year end vacations and new years celebrations. That was not to be for PAVERART 2019 close, and not by choice.
Our key machine broke down, and this time we "hit the wall" in getting it back on line with our own team as we have for all other break-downs.
Have you ever tried to get an emergency repair done on a highly technical piece of machinery, between Christmas and New Years? Luckily, we were in the process of developing a relationship with another small business that specializes in this very repair, although we've never engaged them formally. No time like the present!
So in came our plan: Don't just get the emergency repair done. Do that, but build the foundation for the next chapter of PAVERART's story. Let's call it the PAVERART 2020 Construction project, building more than just a new shop.
Every project takes on a life of its own, and all successful projects, in my experience have some common elements:
Clearly defined objectives: When this is finished (by when, hard date), the result will be _____. In other words the "What?"
A budget - The "how much?"
Team members, each with a role. Both internal and outsourced players. The "who?"
Maybe most important? The "WHY?" Why embark on this journey? Starting with WHY usually makes good sense.
For PAVERART, embarking on our 2020 project came down to some basic questions:
If we look at our past 16+ years, are we going to be able to scale to the next level by standing pat?
Can we afford the risk associated with extended machine down time?
Can we generate incremental cash flow to reinvest in growth without improved operational output and efficiency?
Can we expect to grow without innovating in our business, new products, designs, services?
Can we innovate in a capacity constrained environment?
The answers to each of the above questions, while maybe not a clear "NO" were "very challenging." When a business has aggressive growth aspirations but no serious plan on how to get there, you either need to build that plan & get to work executing it, or lower your aspirations. We chose the former, not the latter.
Fast forward to the project, and key learning's.
I credit my partner, Mike Bull for "keeping the wheels on the bus." Mike has seen it all over PAVERART's history as a co-founder. He has a way of boiling down not just the big picture, but the critical details needed for great outcomes, while always challenging major assumptions. We built a solid, big picture plan and a related budget. Looking back, we hit most of the key milestones.
Note: I have a way of "igniting change," and I like to think of that as a catalyst. But without Mike and what he brings to the table, all I would have done is ignited the business (in chaos!). Every business needs a combination different elements from the key leaders when trying to create positive change....
Team: Inside & Outside players need to play their role!
The team is absolutely critical, and many times you don't know all the players. We had a world class general contractor, also a small, independent business. Steve Panico from Nailed it! Construction. He delivered, on time, on budget, got us critical alternatives and additional things/benefits beyond the project at hand that we continue to think about. Getting your project captain right can make up for other areas you may slip on. Too often contractors (deservedly) earn a questionable reputation, I've dealt with more like this than I care to recount. If you'd like to reach out for Steve his email is email@example.com
RIGGING: Heritage Industrial Solutions, Inc. Moving expensive, BIG equipment is not easy, these guys were top notch! You'll see from the videos below, they had to navigate really tight quarters to get this done.
Our Plant Manager/Lead Designer, Brian McNulty: SOMEHOW, throughout the construction project we were able to produce product throughout January and Mid Feb. AND we trained a very promising new employee (John) and found a way to put the shop back together (what a mess!) while simultaneously planning how best to integrate new, expanded production capacity.
Getting a successful project done is certainly worthy of celebrating. A project done well brings you to the starting line of why you started it to begin with.
At PAVERART, having increased plant capacity offers a host of benefits.......but to realize them calls for a series of other plans, projects and some skillful exection to make it all worthwhile. That work starts today.....
Wishing everyone a successful week.