Mike Macura Jr. is no stranger to the construction industry. After growing up under the influence of a successful entrepreneur, few were surprised when he stepped out and started a construction business of his own.
With a college degree in engineering, seven years of experience as a construction manager and a passion for the industry, he opened the doors of his successful firm, Macura Excavating, in North Grafton, Massachusetts.
When asked for suggestions on getting into the construction business and finding success, he passed along these five tips:
1. Be efficient in everything you do.
In Mike’s experience, every little bit counts and even seemingly insignificant details are important to consider when running a business.
“Staff the job with the right amount of people and the proper equipment for what you are doing,” Mike says. “Develop relationships with as many people as you can in your local construction market, from civil engineers to developers.”
According to Mike, another key thing to consider is to always keep a backlog of work.
“Stay constantly engaged in what’s going on. Spend time not only doing the work, but set aside a good portion of your time for business development.”
2. Find your niche in the construction industry.
When it comes to finding where your services are most valuable within the construction industry, it’s important to understand what your business can realistically take on.
“Look for the right size jobs that you can do efficiently and profitably,” Mike says. “I don’t dabble in things I’m not good at. Don’t take on large public jobs if you do not have experience in large public jobs. Don’t take on small residential work if it’s not going to be profitable. This is one area where I’ve made some improvement in how I manage the company.”
By choosing the right jobs, you can build equity in your company and reinvest profits back into the business.
3. Choose the right client and the right job.
Trying to take on every project that comes your way without considering the implications is a common error Mike is all too familiar with.
“Don’t try to do everything,” Mike says. “I’ve done that and paid the price. When I was concerned about maintaining a volume of work I panicked and took on work that I should have avoided. Sometimes you are better off sitting at the office and waiting for the next job rather than taking on a job you will regret.”
Of course, being a new business might force you to make difficult decisions and take on suspect jobs in order to keep revenue up. If that’s the case, Mike recommends you really find out who you’re working for before hitting the jobsite.
“Get references for the people who are going to hire you because you will be investing a lot of time and money financing the job, and you need to be confident that you’re going to get paid in a timely manner. Make sure the outfit that hires you has a good record of paying their subs on time.”
4. Don’t overextend yourself.
Before buying a fleet of equipment, make sure you have the work, and a financial plan, lined up to support the cost of these machines.
“Don’t buy a bunch of equipment because you think you are going to have work. Only buy what you need. Rent if you are not sure about upcoming work or don’t plan to use the equipment more than 30 or 40% of the time,” Mike says.
When making equipment decisions, Mike recommends looking for equipment that is productive, reasonably priced and provides warranty offerings in addition to dealer support.
“I was originally attracted to Doosan because of its dealer support, financing options, warranty and, most of all, purchase price,” Mike says. “I would not be where I am today without the support of my local dealer, Equipment East.”
Mike owns seven Doosan machines: DX420LC-5, DX350LC-5, two DX225LC-3 and one DX140LCR reduced-tail-swing crawler excavator; and DL250-5 and DL200-3 wheel loaders with general purpose buckets. He says the machines are quality products. Fuel efficiency, for example, is one area where the machines are superior, according to Mike.
Operate them in the right mode, and you will experience very good fuel efficiency. That affects the bottom line on every job.
5. Create a team atmosphere.
When the time comes to build your team, make sure you carefully consider who you welcome onto your crew.
“Make sure the people you hire can work together successfully,” Mike says. “In my case, I have some type of personal history with all my employees. Our good dynamics carry over to the jobsite. We are mindful of schedules and work in harmony with the other trades. These are the kinds of things that general contractors look for to make their lives easier and the project successful.”
Looking back on his journey as an entrepreneur, Mike admits to experiencing his own ups and downs. And when it comes to running a business, he had one final piece of advice.
“As long as you keep your head down, continue to move forward and have the drive to be successful, then you will be,” Mike concludes.