Indiana native Josh Warren is the President/CEO of WarrenCo Construction & Paving. WarrenCo is Indy’s largest direct-to-consumer residential concrete company and one of the fastest-growing asphalt companies in the area.
After many years of owning and managing strongly-branded start-ups, that ultimately became scalable multi-million dollar companies, Warren, along with his father and brothers, decided to launch a concrete/asphalt company with a vision of doing business a better way. Warren’s focus on branding, marketing, advertising, systems, operations, production, quality control, true service, providing real value, and total business development — which he admits is an “inside-out” approach to the typical construction company start-up — had immediate success.
Currently, WarrenCo Construction & Paving installs approximately 1,500 concrete/asphalt projects annually and does around $7.5 Million in gross sales. Ultimately, Warren’s goal is to build a company that his family will own for many generations to come.
Warren has a three-year-old daughter, and his brother and business partner, Marques, has three boys from five to twelve. Along with many nieces, nephews, and cousins, whose parents are already part of the WarrenCo team, the four of them are currently laying out the groundwork for the future, and ultimately securing the imminent legacy for a brand that you can count on being around for many decades to come.
1. How did you first get involved with WarrenCo Construction & Paving?
Myself, along with my father and brothers, were working for a different construction company in various roles from Director/Business Development to Estimators, and Crew Members. We approached that company with a profit-share offer to build what we had envisioned and we were shot down. Then, we decided that we would build our own company and do business in a better way. I’m so grateful that my previous employer didn’t see the value in what we were proposing. If they had, we wouldn’t be in business today, and they would be reaping the rewards instead of us.
2. In your current role within the company, what does a typical day consist of for you?
As the President and CEO of WarrenCo Construction and Paving, my main focus is to develop and carry out the company vision. I’m constantly creating new profit avenues, fine-tuning existing methods, and driving sales from the top. I believe that any great CEO has to be a great salesman. I believe that you have to be the best salesman.
Although I don’t sell to the end-user, I’m fielding calls daily from my Sales Estimators, answering questions when things get complicated, and negotiating and closing deals. I spearhead our sales training and create logic for our CRM systems and estimating software that was developed by us. I maintain relationships with our largest clients, evaluate our marketing and advertising mediums, and personally deal with customer conflict resolution that isn’t resolved by our Project Managers or Quality Control Manager.
I take great pride in protecting our brand and being certain that we deliver to our customers what they should expect from a company of our stature. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by a fantastic team because they do their jobs so well that it allows me to focus on what I do best.
3. How do you motivate others?
For starters, we have a world-class sales training and motivational system through Cardone University that keeps us on our “A” game at all times. If I see someone struggling, I bring them in, and we figure out how to get through it together. I understand that life comes up, and we can’t avoid it. It’s been my experience that the issues that come to the surface are usually rooted in something deeper. Identifying what that is, is the first step in moving past it and towards our goals. Maintaining a positive attitude at all times is key. I understand that company culture starts from the top. If I lack in any way, I see that it affects my team immediately. I do my best to stay motivated myself, and it becomes contagious.
4. How has your company grown from its early days to now?
In the beginning, it was just my dad, my brothers, and myself, along with Elaina and two crews. Dad & Elaina ran the office, did the scheduling, and handled permitting. My brothers and I ran estimates and managed projects. We had two crews that did our installs. We had very simple manual systems, and they worked at that time.
As we’ve grown, we’ve hired the right people and put them in the right positions to allow us to scale successfully. We’ve spent the last two years building out a proprietary system that automates our entire company from start to finish. This system is truly one-of-a-kind, and a real game changer going forward. Our crews have grown from two to close to twenty. We’ve expanded our product offering while staying true to our niche market and not getting sidetracked and becoming a watered-down jack-of-all-trades.
I’d say the most significant change is that the quality of our finished product today is as good as it gets. We truly have mastered the trade. When you have installed 5,000 projects, there’s not much you haven’t come up against. You gain a lot of experience in a short amount of time that would take a smaller company 30 years to achieve.
5. What suggestions do you have for someone starting in the construction industry?
Decide whom you want to be. What’s important to you? You can do very well as a small company if you focus on what’s important: service. You have to realize that just because you’ve been building whatever for years, this is still a business and needs to be run like one. Understand your production capabilities, and weigh that against your demand for service, and price accordingly. If you can’t identify what makes your company better than your competition, then it’s just a race to the bottom. Ultimately, you end up being forced to cut corners to get to your discounted price. When this happens, the customer loses. Know what you’re worth and deliver above what your customers expect to receive.
6. How do you maintain a work-life balance in your profession?
I don’t do everything myself. I have the best team in the industry. I understand the difference between delegating and abdicating. Having the ability to measure and manage results effectively allows me to manage people. I understand that I’m in the business of managing people. Take care of your people, and they will take care of you.
7. What has been the hardest obstacle that you’ve had to overcome?
The fact they’ve we’ve force-fed growth to establish our position in the marketplace quickly has created several obstacles. Getting new Sales Estimators/Project Managers through their first season has proved difficult. We’ve implemented new estimating software and sales training to overcome this obstacle. Our demand for service creates a high demand for production. This can be challenging. There’s a shortage of qualified hard working finishers and laborers that can live up to our high standards and expectations. We’re constantly adapting to what we’ve created. In a way, we’ve had to write our own book on this subject, because no one before us has achieved what we’re trying to accomplish. We’re building something great here!
8. What is one piece of advice that you’ve never forgotten?
My father taught me a long time ago that owning/running a business isn’t about doing everything yourself. He said, “Your job is to have all the right people in the right place, to the point if you were gone tomorrow, your business would run exactly the same.”
9. What are some keys to staying focused that you could share with our readers?
First off, make sure that you’re doing something you love. If you don’t love what you’re doing, it’s hard to stay focused and have success with it. Prioritize and don’t allow yourself to be pulled in every direction just because someone walks into your office or calls your phone. Others can’t always dictate your day. You need to have a plan and stick to it. Allow time for your tasks at hand, and maintain that schedule. Teach people how to think for themselves, so that you’re not the solution to all of their problems. As executive management, you have to operate from that high level, and properly delegate the execution of your vision.
10. What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
Anything is possible. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do something. Pay attention to who claps when you win. You get the life that you create for yourself, so go out and take massive action to achieve your goals.
11. Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
I want to be happy, and I want my family to be happy. My business is a means to provide for my family’s happiness. If owning this company allows me the resources to make better memories with my family, then it’s all worth it. I’m doing what I have to do now so that I can do what I want later. Whether that be short term or long term. My family’s happiness is my driving force.
12. What trends in the industry excite you?
I would say that the continuing developments in decorative concrete, hardscapes, and outdoor living spaces is what excites me the most. Creating useable space outdoors to entertain friends and family is what I truly enjoy. Watching these spaces come to life is my passion.
13. Where do you see yourself and your company in 5 years?
I will slowly step away from the day-to-day operations as different employees develop and master the skills necessary to allow me to do so. Ultimately, I will always lead the company, even if it’s from a distance. The technology that we’ve implemented will allow me to run the company from anywhere in the world. This same technology will allow us to scale to satellite offices throughout the country. We’ll focus on the markets closest to us to start. The groundwork we’re currently laying and costs of doing business we’re incurring will set us up for the future. In time, we’ll become an even stronger brand and more profitable. We’ve taken on a lot very quickly, and it’s certainly cut into profits. However, you have to feed the machine if you want it to produce.
14. Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
The proudest day of my professional life was when we first moved into a little 200 sq. ft. office space. We had ignored all of the nay-sayers and took a leap of faith to better our families. We were in business, and I was ready to establish our company as the dominant force in the marketplace. Today, four years later, I sit in a 7,200 sq. ft. facility with 21 full-time employees and 120+ indirect employees through our various trade partners that work for us daily. We’ve done over $20,000,000 in sales. A lot has happened in the last four years; it’s been an exciting ride. We have several ancillary business models that we’re rolling out that complement what we’ve already established. I believe that my proudest days are still ahead of me.