First job: Carpenter
Education: Education degree, University of California, graduate of North Park University
What is the most significant lesson you have learned in business? Our most important resource is our people.
Lerner on mistakes: We make a lot of mistakes, but the kinds of mistakes we make are subjective you misjudge a market, you misread a market, you mistime a market. Those are the types of things you can’t really avoid. Those are things you can’t quantify, and you can’t really point a finger at anyone because it’s just a dynamic market. The things we do have problems with are things that can be avoided. We don’t tolerate shoddy construction, poorly done marketing or things like that, and that’s all about creating a standard.
Lerner on work-life balance: At the top here, my partners and I are a pretty driven group. Some people don’t want to work as much as we do, and some people don’t want to travel as much as we do; some people don’t want to be away from their families. When you push somebody too hard, it ends up being counterproductive for them and for the company. It’s not all altruistic on our part, but we know what doesn’t work. If somebody’s family life is being damaged by their workload, they’re not going to be a good employee.
Lerner on retaining employees: When you get a dynamic person, you want to keep them. In order to keep them, you have to empower them, and you have to make them, in a sense, a partner. You want them to feel as though they are a partner and that they have a stake in the company.
Something that’s very important to us is that we promote from within the company. Everyone is assured, assuming business remains good, and they do a good job, there is a logical progression and development in the organization. If someone comes here at a lower-level position, our goal is for them to grow with the company.