The Big Push-1995
The year is 1995 and we are one year away from the Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Last week I talked about how busy Atlanta was with construction–well in 1995 it was 24/7 construction. We all knew the Olympics couldn’t be pushed back one day, so everyone was busy getting ready. The Olympics construction experience was one of the most exciting I have ever seen in my life. The action was everywhere and all the contractors were watching each other to see if and/or who would make it on time. This was for bragging rights…who made it on time and who needed help to finish on time.
As I reflect back to 1995, review old pictures, awards and articles, I realized how much things changed in a short period of time and how much our lives change over time. When I first started working in construction and architecture in 1981, no one in our architectural group had a computer. We still mailed letters, we still used pay phones. There were no fax machines or internet. We still played vinyl records on a turn table, and you worked out with no headphones, because there was nothing portable to use for music. We produced drawings on paper and not by computer programs. By time I started C D Moody Construction Company in 1988, which was 7 years after I started at Bechtel, we weren’t using computers for estimating, or project management, they were only being used for accounting and word processing. The internet was starting, but we weren’t using it yet. We had a fax machine with the paper rolls that rolled up after each page was printed. We didn’t have the single sheet fax machine yet, and the cell phone was just getting started and very expensive. Now larger companies with money were probably using technology more, but for start- ups and small companies, the cost was too high, so we still did things the old fashion way, with pencil and paper. Sometimes I think that was best, pencil and paper. By 1995, we had fax machines with single sheet printing; we were using the internet and email. There were computers on every desk, lap tops, cell phones, and estimating and project management software being used daily. We had to use and be up to speed with technology to keep up with our competition. Things were changing fast. Technology had really taken off since I started my business in 1988.
By 1995, I had been married to Karla for 13 years; kids were 10 and 8 1/2 years old. I was coaching their teams and/or going to something every week night or weekend for school, sports, and dances. Sometimes both kids had events at different locations at the same time, and each parent took a kid and went in different directions. When I look back at those years, I see how easily couples can end up drifting apart. Between work, kids, school, church, volunteering and after school activities, there isn’t much time for the husband and wife, because you are just too tired by the end of each night. I often tell young couples that the years of marriage when the kids are growing up are the toughest because of all the things I have mentioned and the parents may be trying to build their careers. Karla and I really had to work at finding time for each other to stay strong in our relationship. We were very fortunate and blessed that we both realized how important it was for us to always make some time for each other and just communicate about what was going on in our lives, and not allow our relationship to drift too far apart. It was not always easy, but we both are thankful we kept God first in our lives, that we actually like hanging out with each other, and we found happiness in just finding a few minutes to laugh about something or each other at that moment. I truly believe laughter is healthy and important in our lives and relationship.
Well back to the business of 1995, we are still growing and I am still guessing how to build a business and sustain the business. I was learning a lot about construction, business and people. I never did yearly business plans, I had projections and I visualized the future, but I never did the full blown business plan like they talk about in business schools. I knew the following: make sure you deliver a great project, make sure the customer was happy with your work and enjoyed the experience of working with your company, make sure you have more money coming in than you have going out, make sure you start the project with a good estimate, treat people fairly, have great people on your team, be honest, pray a lot for guidance, have others you trust that you can talk to and get advice and make sure to invest your profits in your business.
I have been very blessed with so many people that have allowed me to pick their brain, mentor me, share their company procedures with me and just wanted to see me do well. They never wanted or asked for anything in return, they just enjoy watching others do well. People like Herman Russell, Larry Gellerstedt, James Young, Tommy Holder (I will talk more about our relationship in the coming weeks) David Miller, Otis Bellamy, Mayor Jackson, Ambassador Young, these folks and others, have been some of my biggest supporters and advisors. There have been more people that helped after 1995 that I will talk about in future blogs. Because I was helped and inspired by others, is one reason I go out my way to always help others become successful. The one thing I always tell a person when they ask for my advice, you don’t owe me anything in return. Just do a great job and help others when you are able.
In 1995, I was very pleased, that I was standing on my own, financially growing, didn’t need to take on investors, never had to borrow any money from any person, just borrowed from a bank. I had weathered the first storm of starting a business. I had made it 7 years in business and was still standing. Even though I was often unsure of what I was doing, I was still standing and gaining confidence. I also made it another year of no panic attacks, even though I often would worry about having them or worry about my childhood trauma and if I would ever be able to totally erase it all from my mind. But then and now, I refuse to let my childhood trauma and its aftermath win, I love life.
We worked on some exciting projects in 1995; we completed the new atrium project at the Atlanta airport, in a joint venture with McDevitt and Street and won our first building award for a project. I was selected into the Hall of Fame for business from the Atlanta Tribune. I will always be very proud and thankful to George and Pat Lottier for selecting me. We won supplier of the year from GMSDC and Contractor of the year from the Dekalb Chamber of Commerce.
In 1995 I actually thought I could really make this company last for a while. I was having a blast guessing what to do next and soaking up all the knowledge from others that were more experienced than me in business. I made sure my family always came first in my life, next to my faith. I was being selected to different boards of directors, and I was hopefully making a positive difference in others’ lives and I hoped and prayed I would never let my success go to my head. I would always laugh daily and make someone else smile.
In 1995 I was 39 years old, with a growing family, business, and just trying to find my way in this world. I was ,and am today, very thankful for the opportunities I have been given in my life, the challenges of my life, continuing to overcome my fears , my family, friends and my faith in God. I wish everyone happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas.
Keep getting through your fears and going for your dreams. Great things are in store for you.