Top 10 Reasons Contractors Succeed

Jan. 23, 2024
The road and bridge construction industry can’t thrive if contractors fail

By Gavin Jenkins, Senior Managing Editor

Contractors focus too much on not failing instead of concentrating on success strategies. This was the basis for Kevin J. Albanese’s presentation, “Top 10 Reasons Contractors Succeed,” at World of Concrete in the Las Vegas Convention Center on Tuesday.

This week, World of Concrete recognizes the 50th anniversary of its formation. Since the road and bridge construction industry would not exist if it weren’t for the thousands of contractors across the country, I thought this educational session would be the perfect way to kick off our coverage.

Why did I think this when attending the World of Concrete? Well, this month, we published the Roads and Bridges State of the Industry Report. There was one part of our survey that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. It’s a troubling statistic: When asked if they have enough funds to adequately maintain their business in 2024, 36% of respondents said no and 25% responded “I don’t know.”

These are families who are living with uncertainty. And, one of the best parts of attending a show like World of Concrete, is that it can give business owners the boost they need.

“The feeding ground of all construction companies is the family business,” Albanese said to me after his presentation.

Albanese, who works as a senior consultant for the Family Business Institute, was raised by a contractor who ran a family business, Joseph J. Albanese, Inc. He shared his personal experiences to a packed room of lively attendees.

Albanese top 10 list broke down like this:

  • Leadership.
  • Great place to work.
  • Attract the best people.
  • Effective strategic planning.
  • Effective at new business development.
  • Diversified and profitable work mix.
  • Operational strength.
  • Proper capitalization.
  • Data smart.
  • Effective risk management

Albanese admitted that his No. 10 was probably in the top three for most important.

“When you find yourself in a ditch, stop digging,” he said.

He said that seven out of 10 business failures can be tracked to one bad job. Disaster jobs, as Albanese called them, can happen when company leaders develop a feeling of being bulletproof or if they become complacent.

Effective risk management, like nearly everything on this list, starts with good leadership. Albanese said that a good leader is driven, has a servant attitude towards the role, focuses on executive functions like building relationships, and the psychological safety of employees.

And while being effective at new business development is crucial for a contractor, Albanese warned about taking on more work than you can handle.

“Gluttony causes big problems in our industry,” he said.

The 50th anniversary of World of Concrete continues this week. If you are attending, please visit our booth in the Central Hall, C4640.

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