I started Clayco in 1984 when I was 25 years old. I had tried a couple of other vocations that I hated. I had always dreamed of being an architect and builder and loved constructing things. I also really cared about the community and people in general and thought there could be an intersection of both.
I was ambitious and had big plans, but with no real idea about how I was going to actually accomplish them. I didn’t have many resources, any education, or experience. What I lacked in those things I gained with common sense, being kind, creativity, and unbelievable passion. Proving you can compete with one and without the other. There were many lessons along the way.
The most important lessons I’ve learned I will gladly share. They have to do with learning from mentors and teaching as a mentor. There’s also out-working my competition, but not at the expense of my friends and family. The Golden Rule of treating people how I want to be treated is key. And thinking about the word “choice” every day. Choice is the most important word.
We have the choice to do our best job while avoiding being our worst selves. We get to choose who we surround ourselves with in our personal lives and in our business life. We get to choose how to spend our time … to make it productive, or we could choose to waste it. We can choose to better ourselves – to read, exercise, paint or write, to spend time in the community – or we could do nothing. I wake up every morning thinking about what my choice for the day will be and how I can make the most of it.
It’s important to have someone in your corner that always has your back and to avoid people who don’t. My family does this for me. Ellen, my late wife, convinced me that it would be a disaster if my legacy was building buildings. This is a hard concept. But “Beyond These Walls” is not words on paper, it means that the bricks and mortar are just a means to all the activity, research, learning, surgery, hyper-scale computing, and other good work going on inside the buildings, which is the important contribution from our work.
All of us at Clayco are part of something special and can accomplish so much together in business, for our families, and for our community. The most important thing that we can all do together is to create a culture that will outlast all of us. It’s the living, beating heart of the company and it is a key differentiator and the secret sauce.
On this 38th anniversary of Clayco, I wanted to take a minute to reflect and thank all of our team members. I’m so grateful I am to be in this place, at this time, with all of them.