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Construction Genius

May 28, 2019

I welcome Jeff Hoopes, Chairman and CEO of Swinerton Builders, back to the show to discuss his approach to leading a multi-billion dollar ESOP company, why the structure of his executive team encourages healthy conflict, and how Jeff is striving to leave a legacy of teaching his employees how to make money, build wealth, and be part of a wonderful company. Click the link to listen to our first interview: Strategic Insights into Growing a Thriving Multi-Billion Dollar Construction Company

Main takeaways:

  1. What it means to be a servant leader.
  2. How Swinerton’s ESOP structure influences Jeff’s leadership.
  3. The structure of, and relationship dynamic within, Swinerton’s executive team
  4. The power of rejecting “yes men”
  5. Swinerton’s approach to succession planning

Show Notes:

  • A little of Jeff’s personal history (Bay Area real estate was expensive, even in the 1980s).
  • How Jeff built wealth within Swinerton’s ESOP structure through sweat equity
  • Superintendents at Swinerton retire with $1m in shares.
  • Growing Swinerton into a top 10 commercial builder in the United States.
  • How the ESOP structure influences Jeff’s servant leader approach.
  • Why Jeff turns down other companies when they offer to buy Swinerton.
  • How Swinerton navigated and increased profitability during the Great Recession.
  • Keeping your ego in check: Surround yourself with people who can say “no” and tell you that you are wrong
  • Swinerton’s succession planning matrix.
  • The “four legs” of a successful executive team: Operations, Business, Finance, Sales
  • How the executive team engages in open debate, prior to emerging with a fully supported agreement of how to proceed.
  • Filtering the executive team culture through the Area Managers.
  • The value of having a diverse executive team representing the field and the office.
  • How long-term, 30-year relationships, influence the executive team’s leadership.
  • The difference between a short-term “dictatorial” leadership style, and long-term servant leadership.
  • Jeff’s goal of making the young people that work for Swinerton wealthy, and giving them the business as a gift.
  • How Swinerton supports people during tough personal circumstances.
  • The importance of patience in realizing the rewards of the ESOP structure.
  • How the ESOP structure impacts strategic decisions.
  • The danger of using an ESOP as an exit strategy for the first generation of owners, and not as a long-term wealth building mechanism for all employees.
  • Why ESOPs fail.
  • Jeff’s desired legacy: Teaching his employees how to make money, build wealth, and be part of a wonderful company.

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