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Making the Move from Contractor to Business Leader

By Kate Hodel | Jul 07, 2014

Partnerships are the key to success, especially in the contracting world, according to a panel of experts who presented recently at the Blue Hills Business Center. The discussion was the highlight of the business development workshop entitled “From Contractor to Business Person” that took place on Thursday, June 26th. Over sixty business owners and resource partners gathered to share insight on the shift from working in one’s business, to working on one’s business.

The panel, facilitated by Alonzo Austin of the Kansas City Business Journal, featured heavy-hitters from the construction industry, including Marvin Carolina Jr. of JE Dunn; Dan Meyer of Rau Construction; Rita Cortes, formerly with Hoffman Cortes Contracting Co.; Mark Iammarino of Turner Construction and Radd Way of The Weitz Company.
contractor 6-14

Photo features Marvin Carolina Jr., Adrienne Haynes and Alonzo Austin.

The discussion covered many topics, including how to find capital, how to manage growth, and how to best manage family-owned businesses. Some of the advice shared included the wisdom below:

  • In construction, it’s important that you don’t isolate yourself. You really want to have a team around you as you start and grow your business, and as you think about transitioning or exiting the business. – Rita Cortes
  • Growth is good, but don’t just don’t grow to grow. Make sure that if you grow it’s because it’s in alignment with your strategic direction, and make sure you have a business plan that is going to sustain that growth. – Mark Immarino
  • Focus on the profits. Keep track of profit and revenue, but profit is the most important number. – Marvin Carolina, Jr.
  • You have to know the details of your business to build trust with people who either give you or lend you money. They want to know that you know your business better than anyone. That doesn’t mean you have to become a CPA, but don’t leave that analysis to someone else. – Rita Cortes
  • Be honest about bad news. The more honest you are, the more people will try to help you solve your problem. – Dan Meyer
  • Know what both success and growth look like in your business. They can both be measured by the bottom line, but also can be measured by market share and employee growth. – Radd Way
  • Understand the pay cycle before you take a job. If its 60-90 days, make sure you have the cash to cover yourself. Your customer won’t want you to come to him mid-job to ask for money. –Rita Cortes


    The group also offered some tips on how to connect with large companies:

Use resources in the community that are natural for you.

Join associations that are industry specific or where potential customers will be.

Put together a list of who you’d like to talk to AND what you want from them…then start making calls.

Watch for bid days.

The resources offered by the Blue Hills Contractor Incubator can also help contracting companies to find jobs and build relationships. The purpose of the Contractor Incubator serve as a trusted source for guidance and resources for small and medium contracting firms in the Kansas City region by providing office space, training opportunities, and relationships that assist in developing and executing sustainable business practices that lead to overall community economic development.

The Blue Hills Contractor Incubator at 5008 Prospect currently has six clients, including Abraham Mechanical, America On the Go Plumbing, First Response Construction, Freedom Companies, Lewis Block & Supply and Totta Hardwood Flooring. More space is available to qualified companies. Contact Adrienne Haynes at 816.333.7870 ext 207 or visit for more information.

 This post provided by Adrienne Haynes of the Blue Hills Contractor Incubator.

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