Roy Rewold Featured

8:00pm EDT August 29, 2006
 Roy Rewold has a simple strategy on how to be a good leader — he surrounds himself with people who know as much or more than he does, and he listens to them when they give him advice. That strategy has worked. The CEO of Frank Rewold & Son Inc., a full-service commercial contracting firm specializing in construction management, has led his company to about $110 million in revenue for 2005. Smart Business spoke with him about growing at a good pace and surrounding yourself with solid workers.


Keep your eye on the ball and control growth.
We did it very, very slowly. We’re not trying to be the biggest. We want to be the best.

You have to really pick your jobs. These are some of the problems that companies a little larger than ours have. They take on too much work and they aren’t keeping their eye on it. Suddenly one or two of the jobs go sideways on them. Domino effect is a good terminology.

If we start getting a very heavy workload, we look at the jobs that may be coming up a lot harder than we do if we’re not quite as busy, so we don’t get overloaded. We keep our finger on the pulse with every job that’s going on.

You have to be organized to make things happen. If you go into any kind of a meeting and your agenda is not organized, it’s not going to be very successful.


Keep the lines of communication open.
You have to listen to people when they offer advice. You want to weigh it both ways. If it makes sense, you listen to it, then react to it or put it in place. That is one of the most important things.

We work on a team concept here. Without the team, you’re not going to make it work. I don’t think there’s any CEO that is capable of pulling any kind of a business together without the help of the team.

If you have a problem, you want to bring it to people right away. You don’t want it to get like a cancer and start spreading. We discuss any problems with any person we may be having a problem with.

When we hire somebody, we explain to them we have what we call an open-door policy. They can come to either myself or my son (Frank, the company’s president) and discuss any kind of problem they may have. And if it’s something that might be a piece of advice, a way they see to do something, we listen to that, too. You don’t have to make an appointment to come and see us.


Hire for the long haul.
Somebody who switches jobs quite frequently, I don’t figure that they’re probably going to stay with our company very long.

If you observe somebody that’s got a good approach on how not only they handle people but how they think and how they react, it gives you a comfort level that they’ve had the experience and you’re not going to have to bring them all the way through. If I see somebody I think has potential that has a different type of job that would fit into our little niche, I try to get ahold of them or hire those kinds of people.


Meet with employees regularly and treat them as equals.
I respect our laborers as much as the people right on top. They’re just as important as the top people are.

I go out on the jobs and shake hands with them and acquaint myself with them and let them know that I don’t think that they are at the bottom of the totem pole, but they are very important for our operation.

It builds the morale of the people on the job when they see the CEO coming on the job. They know the interest level there is pretty high. That’s one of the ways we have been able to keep it very tight knit. We don’t just sit in our office.


Be confident about decisions.
Each situation is a little bit different. You have to weigh that to see what’s involved before you can determine which way you’re going to make a decision. There’s not any set pattern. You’ve got to look at each circumstance and decide which way is the best way to go. That’s one of the most important things, being confident.

One of the things I thrive on is the foresight and the risk. We are sometimes thinking a little bit ahead of the game and go out and do some risk factors that fortunately we have been lucky have materialized, instead of waiting to have somebody else take the lead and try to catch up later. You have to have a vision to what might be coming on. You have to have the vision to stick your neck out a little bit.

If you’ve ever read that book, ‘If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat,’ that’s kind of what it is. If you’re just going to sit in the boat, you’re not going to get any place.


Keep people up-to-date.
Some companies try to hide too many things. We do everything aboveboard. We let them in on a lot of decisions, or at least they’re aware of some of the things that are coming up. They feel more a part of it that way, so they’re going to react better and be more involved.

Obviously, we don’t open our books to all of them. But as far as workload and what’s coming up and what we’re trying to do, we let them know that sort of thing.



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