Something clicked two years ago when Austin Foster realized that his project managers were introduced to a job only through the estimate. So he started taking project managers along on sales calls so they could help him build the estimate. “They’re more aware of what a job is all about when it starts, know what’s a change order,” he says. “It’s led to an increase in profit and fewer communication difficulties.”

Working together is a hallmark of Construction Ahead. Foster has been able to walk that fine line between boss and friend, and his staff, trade partners, and clients all benefit from the camaraderie. Along with systems and processes, that closeness will help Foster realize his goal of focusing solely on sales and working on, not in, the business. Staff will handle more of the day-to-day tasks.

Using written budgets, forms, and checklists, Foster can easily make adjustments to his lean business and is prepared for whatever direction the economy takes. “We own all our equipment, vehicles, and building and can weather things if I have to cut back,” he says. “We have good cash flow and a low debt-to-equity ratio. If we need to tighten up, we’re ready to do it quickly.”

- Stacey Freed