Building your business within the commercial construction sector for 2017

February 15th, 2017 by

If you’re a business owner/manager and work within the commercial construction arena, chances are at times you’ve felt like the mythological King Sisyphus.

Remember him? He was punished by the Greek gods. He was forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it come back to hit him, repeating this action for eternity. Not ironically, ever since those ancient times, tasks that are both laborious and futile have been described as “Sisyphean.”

Quite honestly, it’s not always good to be King.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t build your business. After all, if you’re the king or a top-ranking officer, it’s paramount that if you fall down, the best thing to do is get up and keep moving toward your goals.

I know that sounds a bit cliché-ish. But if you have a program from which to work off, a strategically posed business growth plan, I don’t think you need a magic wand to build your business. Just some patience, a strong dose of optimism and, a firm commitment that once your plan is crafted, you’ll stick to it.

From a discipline standpoint, having and sticking to a business plan really is no different than committing to get your tired old body back in shape. You put together (or have someone put together for you) a workout program, and then stick to it religiously. No pain, no gain, and after you get used to the routine, you see results. Your business-building plan can work just as easily.


To begin, you must:

  • Know what you strengths (and weaknesses) are. Be honest.
  • Ask yourself, “What is a reasonable sales growth goal for my firm?”
  • Step out of your ego. Just because you don’t like your competition, don’t be in denial if they’re beating you in certain areas.
  • Never hate your competition. Be civil regarding them, especially if you ever rub elbows. You might even be able to find out more than you’d ever realize. Remember what Don Corleone said? “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”
  • Include your management team in the development of this plan. Their input will prove to be invaluable.
  • Make sure once your plan is in place that you share it with your people. Get them excited about being part of it, especially your sales team.
  • There’s no reason not to keep using old school tools to promote your business, especially if they’ve successfully worked over the years. But to be afraid to learn about/implement the newer online promotional tools is insane. If you’re over 55 and set in your ways, be smart enough to bring in younger employees who aren’t. It’s even smarter if you jump into the 21st Century and learn/understand these disciplines.
  • It is imperative to have personnel with a strong understanding of today’s social media and how it can be used to positively build your image, reach prospects and educate your targets regarding why they need you.


Let’s talk about focus. What kind of growth are you looking for? The easiest is to stay where you are, work hard to maintain all your existing customers, and then just raise your prices across the board by a certain percentage. Now, that sounds pretty basic, and it can make sense. But would your incumbent regular customer base stay with you, were you to announce a 10 percent price increase, especially for the upcoming New Year?

From a realistic standpoint, growth sometimes can be gauged based upon internal need. For example, if you’re maxed out, if all of your team members are working more hours than ever to accommodate your clientele, then obviously, you need more bodies.

But don’t just bring in new hires as a Band-Aid due to having more work than workers. Rather, bring in people who not only can help you meet the demands of your everyday business – ones who will free up fellow workers. Allow them the time to focus on bringing in new business, rather than just slaving to maintain what you already have. After all, it will soon be 2017. Everybody wears more than one business hat these days.

Do you want to grow what you already have and branch out in other directions? Or, maybe you are thinking about growth by acquisition? Maybe you just want to grow your business, so that it can go on the sales block? In other words, build it to sell it.


On your mark, get set, grow…

Once you decide the direction to grow your business, go online and look for some of the commercial construction economic reports, which often readily are available. I’ve read many.

Perhaps the best annual commercial construction preview in my estimation comes from the Gilbane Company. It’s professionally done, unselfish and very much on target. Obviously, knowing your marketplace well is a necessity.

To structure your plan, there are many basic protocols.


Here’s an outline of one.

  • Start out with your company’s mission statement.
  • Every construction firm has a certain company culture. State yours here.
  • If you’re big enough and want to project your organizational structure, possibly via a flow chart showing hierarchy of positions/roles, do it.
  • Go into detail regarding company goals and the financial projections needed to attain these. It’s best to be conservative.
  • In great detail, outline your product/service offerings. With your staff, go over each component that you “sell” to your customers. Be open and honest. Are each of these offerings as good as they could be? If not, how can they be improved.
  • Make sure you have an ironclad HR program in place for existing personnel and those to be added. If your firm is large enough to have a dedicated HR person/department, look at that as a great insurance policy for your firm.
  • Make a listing of all the challenges you envision in the upcoming year. Of course, this will change, but by realistically forecasting what you very well may confront, eye-opening business surprises during the year will be dealt with more effectively.
  • Clearly, know all the laws to which your firm must abide. As business owners and managers, you’ve all been hit once or twice by some regulation (taxes, zoning, etc.)
  • Embark on a cogent marketing program. And to do so, think about working with a professional marketing firm offering a strong track record within the industries you target. Even though so many firms want to go “in-house,” which in many cases makes sense economically, determine if you’ll get the best talent that way. Or, should your company partner with an outside firm? This marketing program should be put together in great detail. It can and should include participation in networking events, utilizing social media, ongoing content development, advertising, public relations, community outreach services, an ongoing protocol for targeting potential customers… and, so much more. Included also should be a review how to best support your sales team with the best marketing tools and customer services.
  • Make a strong effort to make your plan flexible, so you may adjust to the many business variables to be encountered.


Let’s face it – 2017 will be upon us in a few months. Some people believe an “election year” is a guarantee of business increases. Whether or not that is valid, I cannot answer. I can state, however, that if a company puts together a convincing business plan, remains patient and optimistic, good things will happen. The best indicator I’ve seen these last few months is the amount of cranes at construction sites in larger cities. If you do it the right way, business can and will grow.

Unlike King Sisyphus, you indeed can be King of your own domain. 

Thoughts While Scrambling from Scranton

June 18th, 2015 by

IMG_0989I’m sitting in front of Gate 5 at the Scranton Wilkes Barre Airport, getting ready to jump into the very minuscule, propeller plane en route to Charlotte, where I’ll have a three-hour layover before my connecting flight to Palm Beach International takes off. Normally, just the thought of airports, going through TSA security, layovers, rushing through terminals and sitting in the plane not unlike a canned sardine… next to a new mom whose baby is either screaming or being breast-fed, all elicit high anxiety levels. Post 9-11 airport travel sucks.

But this time, it’s different. I have this exhilarating feeling. I’m coming home after spending three days at the annual Arley Classic, a beaucoup extravaganza where our long-time client, Arley Wholesale Products, every year seems to do everything right… everything better than the previous year. To call the 2015 edition impressive, would be a gross understatement. It was, without question, one of the best “business gatherings” I have ever attended throughout decades as a marketing communicator. 

DSC_0220How did  Arley knock it out of the park? Well, first of all, the entire team functions as one professional unit. I’ve spent many a minute listening to clients’ personnel talking behind their co-workers’ backs, one person bashing another to ostensibly bolster their standing. Not at Arley. The entire staff, from seasoned owner to rookie, functions as one smooth-moving, totally professional entity. Each team member is a veritable campaign manager for the other. Positivity abounds at Arley, as well. The entire three days were put together seamlessly: trade show, golf, dinners, cocktail hour(s) and more, each one at optimal levels. On time, well attended, everything perfectly choreographed! Even the comedian, brought in to perform after the first night’s dinner, exceeded all expectations!

And, why was this fun, worthwhile, highly professional gala event even better this year than in previous ones? My take is that as highly up-to-date as Arley is, I’ve noticed the one and only item the firm always toots its collective horn about pertains to tradition: how the company steadfastly sticks to the ideals of its founder, dating back to the mid-thirties. This credo includes: 

  • Being honorable in everything you do
  • Living up to your agreements; your word is your bond
  • Being loyal to your suppliers. They are the backbone of your business

The result is a highly advanced, extremely sophisticated, contemporary company that hasn’t for one second forgotten its roots… or, the good old-fashioned business maxims it built its foundation upon.

DSC_0235This guy had such a good time. And from the first night’s apres-dinner, awe-inspiring speech “The  Champ is Here” (manuscript available upon request) given by the firm’s executive Vice President of Operations, Scott Levy, I knew this wasn’t just any old business soiree; this was the epitome of a textbook-level company event. Not surprisingly, I was far from being alone with these thoughts.

Congratulations to Arley Wholesale Products on its 13th annual Arley Classic and Trade Show. It was a TEN. On behalf of Communicators International, Inc., let me emphatically state how proud we are to be the advertising & public relations firm for such an ultra-professional client that seems to exceed first-class levels on regular basis… with everything it does.

Dining out in six-dollar shoes

June 24th, 2014 by

Yesterday was a great day in the office. Clients seemed happy, new business is on the horizon and we had two major success stories for one customer who all of a sudden stopped being his grouchy self.

It was time to celebrate. So, I made a date with wife Caryn, to have dinner at our favorite little Greek restaurant in nearby Stuart. In about half a second, we jumped into the car and drove off. It was about seven o’clock.

Once we arrived, we had a glass of wine and then started devouring our meals. Great stuff! How could life be any better? All of a sudden, Caryn started laughing very loudly. I asked, “What’s so funny?” Her answer: “Look what you’re wearing!”

ron-for-blog1-1024x756Hey, this is Florida and the temperature was 82 degrees when we left. Nobody dresses up here, especially this time of year. And the gyros place we were at certainly wasn’t The Breakers or The Everglades Club, where dress codes may still be enforced (it’s been awhile…). So, this husband did look at his attire. My haute couture statement made last night consisted of yellowish distressed denim shorts, an off-white surfer T-shirt with a picture of Bob Dylan… and, my six-dollar plastic black sandals which Caryn presented to me last Christmas. (Those are worn when taking out the garbage.) I really didn’t think to change footwear when making the quick decision to go out to eat.

Being in the advertising & PR business for seemingly forever, the expression “Perception is Reality” has been indelibly stamped in my brain. But in 2014 does that mean I must be dressed for success at an impromptu, inexpensive dinner with my spouse?

Perception as Reality has changed. What used to be the well-heeled, smartly coiffed, beautifully tailored “look” which translated into its bearer being immediately considered as one highly efficacious individual, has been supplanted. Healthy, happy, content and exuding a feeling of “with-it” is becoming the new image of success today.  In other words, you can go out to dinner nowadays wearing six-dollar brogans and not feel like a loser.

I told my wife to please be proud of what were on my feet.

Please note that on our website “Team” page, shots of Ron Treister and Randy Stertmeyer no longer are those with the two of us wearing ties.


Can it really be our 20th Anniversary?

April 13th, 2014 by

We started Communicators International, Inc. in January of 1994. It seems like yesterday.

Business Beginnings in Venice, 1989. L-R: The late great Dave-o King; Mustachioed Ron Treister; Randy Stertmeyer, navigating as always.

Business Beginnings in Venice, 1989. L-R: The late great Dave-o King; Mustachioed Ron Treister; Randy Stertmeyer, navigating as always.

Our very first client was Creative Edge, the Fairfield, Iowa-based company which has grown to be the world’s leading waterjet design and fabrication firm. They’re still with us, and the relationship has never been stronger. It’s still a lot of fun working with Jim Belilove, Harri Aalto and key members of their great team. Another core account from way-back-when was Rover North America, the stateside subsidiary of Italy’s then-premier manufacturer of agglomerated marble slabs and tiles. The President/Managing Director of that firm was Randy Stertmeyer, who today is our COO. Randy worked for four other companies which became our clients since that time, one being Creative Edge, for which he was VP/Sales & Marketing.

It’s all about good people helping good people…and, not forgetting each other.

I hired Terri Sparks in 1990 to work as my assistant at Treister Incorporated in Chicago; I think it was just after she had graduated from college. She stayed with me when we sold that firm to another ad agency, and then joined up with the ex-client for whom we both worked a short period of time. Moving forward, she became the marketing director of a very large stone company about the same time I started this company. In 2003, Terri came back as an account exec, doing great stuff (as always) until she left four years later, taking on an even more important job: being mother to her twins. Now that her kids are in school, she’s back with us on a part-time basis.

It’s never been easy. It’s never been dull. Overall though, it’s always been rewarding. Thanks to everybody who has worked with Communicators International, Inc. over the last two decades!


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Communicators International, Inc.

Headquartered in Jupiter, FL with satellite offices throughout the nation

Call: 561 203 2981


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