Born: San Antonio
Education: Degree in building construction from Texas A&M
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
My first job was being a carpenter’s helper the summer between my eighth grade and ninth grade year, building my parents’ house north of San Antonio. My dad was a plumber and pipefitter for 38 years, so I’d been around construction a lot all of my life. And when he said, ‘Hey, if you want to be the carpenter’s helper, I’ll pay you a little bit of money to do this all summer,’ I said, ‘Wow, I’d love to do that. That’d be so much fun.’ I learned how to frame walls, I learned how to roof, learned how to trim out rooms. And, in fact, between my junior and senior year of college, my next-door neighbor asked me and a couple of my buddies to build a house for him from the ground up.
What has been your favorite project at SpawMaxwell?
In 2001, we had a huge flood here from Tropical (Storm) Allison. In some places, they had 20 inches of rain in 24 hours. One of our big clients, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, in some of the hospitals or pavilions, they had 32 feet of water, [which] shut down the whole hospital [and it] had to evacuate all the patients. Well, in 36 days, we had cleaned it up, rebuilt it, put in all kinds of temporary measures, reinspected it working around the clock seven days a week to get them up and running again.
What made it so special was we went to some of our clients and said, ‘Look, we’ve got to do this for Memorial Hermann. We’ve got to do it for the community. We need to set your job down for a while till we get this done, or we need to delay starting your project,’ and our clients were so gracious. Every one of them said, ‘No problem.’
That’s one of those deals where the community just pulls together and recognizes a need and just says, ‘Hey, there’s other things way more important.’ That was by far the hardest and most fun project I’ve ever been on.
Your workday is off to a bad start. How do you turn it around?
I pray. That’s one of the things that I do. But I think part of it is I refocus what I’m doing. If it’s off to a bad start because maybe we didn’t get a project we thought we should have got, I’ve got to take my blinders off and look at the big picture and say, you know, we are so blessed with the business we have, with the people we have in this business. There’s going to be a lot more projects to come and we’re going to get our fair share.
That’s important to be a leader in a company and to … look at the bright side; don’t look at the negative side.