Quickly Building a Sustainable Company

Jul 24, 2023 | Business News, Case Studies, Leadership

This case study explores how strategy and experience are critical when building a sustainable company.

Clarity from Crisis

As a young professional, Lowell Figur took his Cornell University degree in finance and computer systems down to Atlanta to start a career in investment banking. But it wasn’t long before real estate won out over dollars, cents, and screens. Lowell has had his broker’s license for about 25 years now. His realtor and remodeling savvy have always gone hand-in-hand. He completely renovated the second house he ever sold and has been guiding clients through their remodeling projects ever since.

But disaster struck in 2009. Lowell had to be revived at the scene of a horrific car accident. With 27 broken bones, it took him 2 years and plenty of metal and rods to recover. Still reeling and unsure of what should come next, Lowell reached out to a good friend in design/construction and became his VP of Operations. Eventually, Lowell combined this hands-on building experience with his business and real estate skills, applied for his general contractor license, and Figur Construction was born.

Lowell J. Figur, Figur Construction

An Urgent 5-Year Plan

Lowell tapped Growth Team Strategies (GTS) President & Senior Consultant Doug Howard to help him assess where Figur Construction was, where he needed it to be, and how to drive the company from Point A to B. Time was of the essence. Health and mobility issues might one day threaten Lowell’s ability to work out in the field. Together, Doug and Lowell set out to create an empire Lowell could run from the central office.

The two decided weekly calls would best fit their priorities and timeline. That consistent frequency has proven mission critical. “Doug is good at keeping me focused on the task at hand. He even assigns homework. We’re always mapping the week’s work to Figur’s long-term goals, but honestly, sometimes I just need it to be a shrink session, and he’s great at that too,” Lowell says.

Staffing for Management Style

New consulting clients often don’t know where to start. Doug helps them identify what’s currently eating up most of their time and addresses that first. For many, including Lowell, it was administrative tasks. But Lowell was used to being a one-man band and wasn’t sure about sharing his To Do List.

“It’s a huge transition, structurally for your company and mentally in your own mind, to go from contracting out to in-house employees,” Doug empathizes. The two built a timeline and roadmap for onboarding staff into Figur’s 5-year plan and then iteratively found a staffing configuration that worked for Lowell’s management style.

Doug did the hiring heavy lifting: prepping job descriptions, placing ads, scheduling interviews, and administering personality tests. An administrative assistant was added first. Then, a project coordinator and a sales guy being groomed for project management. Over time, the roles have evolved, and Lowell found he prefers virtual assistants. Anything is possible in our new hybrid work age!

QUIPpy Marketing

For high-end remodelers like Figur Construction, marketing should always focus on value. But how do you demonstrate the value of your work to prospective clients who may have little experience vetting remodeling companies? Remodels aren’t high frequency purchases like haircuts and oil changes.

Doug helped Lowell think through how to brand his company. They settled on 4 values that differentiate Figur from the competition. These Qualifiers must be Unique, Important, and Provable: QUIPpy! Lowell pulled client and vendor testimonials that best spoke to each of Figur’s 4 pillars into a one-pager. It turned out so well, Doug uses it as an example for other clients to follow. “Using happy customer’s words to sing your own praises is a great way for humble entrepreneurs like Lowell to do the marketing their company needs,” Doug says.

A Remarkable & Ongoing Journey

Figur Construction’s journey is remarkable because Lowell and Doug have managed to create the organization while tripling revenue and growing profit. Building the plane while flying the plane, as they say. In 2019, Figur did just under $1M in business. By 2022, it was very close to $3 million. More importantly, strategic planning and process optimization have made that revenue more profitable. Most importantly, Doug and Lowell have structured Figur Construction to thrive, regardless of how Lowell’s role may change. “Just ‘cuz my health is bad doesn’t mean my business shouldn’t grow,” he asserts.

Entrepreneurs like Lowell sign on for a 6-month engagement with GTS. However, they are usually so energized when they hit those 6-month targets, they opt to continue growing. Four years later, Lowell and Doug are still meeting weekly. They keep spotting and climbing increasingly higher mountains. “For anyone thinking about working with Doug, don’t even think; just do it,” Lowell advises. “It’s the best money I’ve ever spent and will continue to spend.”