Building a Model Business

Despite a tough economy, Gail Warrior ensures the success of her construction company

Warrior

For any woman, breaking into an industry dominated by men is tough. But when you’re a black woman with aspirations of becoming president and CEO of a construction business, it’s even tougher. Few know this better than Gail Warrior. The founder and CEO of DeSoto, Texas-based Warrior Group (No. 35 on the be Industrial/Service companies list with $124 million in revenues) says she initially felt she had to prove herself to her male counterparts. So she pushed herself to learn as much as she could about construction and took the lead on projects. “I didn’t feel I was getting the respect I deserved, so I took action,” she says.

While the economy remains in a state of closely monitored recovery, Warrior Group has managed to thrive. Revenues in 2008 were $124 million, up from $42 million in 2007. Warrior forecasts 2010 revenues of nearly $200 million. Warrior Group has come a long way from its beginnings in 1997, when revenues were about $31,000 at the end of its first year in operation. “I knew I had the ability to get my business off the ground,” Warrior says. A former accountant for Mobil, she is now in charge of one of the nation’s largest businesses owned by a black woman. Warrior, who is in her early 40s, has come out on top by hiring talented people, making well-planned moves, and following her heart.

Building a Solid Foundation
Warrior Group specializes in permanent modular construction, a process in which modules of a structure are built off-site and then transported to their destination and assembled there. This process, according to Phil Slingerland, the company’s chief operating officer, saves time and money because the modular process allows a building’s floors, walls, ceilings, rafters, and roofs to be built simultaneously. Modular constructions can be either leased or purchased through dealers or direct manufacturers. Warrior Group is a direct manufacturer whose projects include medical clinics, academic buildings, day care centers, and military barracks.

Warrior was introduced to the modular construction industry through her ex-husband Wayne Lawrence, Warrior Group’s vice president of business development. Lawrence previously worked as a sales representative and branch manager for Space Master Buildings, a company that provided modular structures. “I told Wayne that I saw a need that was not being met among government agencies and schools,” Warrior says. “I saw how permanent modular construction was faster, safer for the

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  • http://www.bunmizalob.com/ Bunmi

    I absolutely agree with hiring people who know more than you in a specific area. This can seem intimidating to entrepreneurs initially, but it is vitally important to a successful enterprise. Smart, sharp team members will allow you to focus on building the business rather than fixing lose ends.

  • http://www.academics.co.il/Authors/Author1960.aspx Natividad Tobias

    I confess, I have not been on this weblog in a very long time. nonetheless it absolutely was one more joy to read your great content.

  • http://blackenterprise.com Sheiresa Ngo

    Thanks for your comments. Yes, Bunmi, I agree. Hiring employees who are more knowledgeable benefits a company. Managers should not be afraid of being outshined. At the end of the day, high-performing workers make their bosses and their companies look better. And thanks Natavidad for your message. We try our best to give you content that you can use and apply on a daily basis.

    • Jon

      Articles like these are inspiring. a0At this time, there’s no hope not even a ppecrost of hope. a0I did what I was supposed to do 1.) Graduate from hospital 2.) Stay out of trouble and 3.) Graduate from college. a0I’ve yet to make an annual salary which supersedes the amount I owe on loans. a0To make things even worse, I’ve been unemployed for over year in an funky downsizing situation where I didn’t even qualify for unemployment benefits after fighting almost an entire year. a0I’ve tried to go entrepreneurial in the field in which I graduated in, but even that isn’t yielding anything. a0They’re no jobs, but yet Nelnet is still putting pressure on me even hounding my parents for money. Is this the American Dream promised to me if I did what I was supposed to do? It’s more like a nightmare. a0Since there is apparently no help out of this, when I am fortunate enough to receive divine help to dig myself out of this rut I will promise a few things! 1.) It is very unlikely that I will allow my children to go to college unless they indicate overwhelming promise in a SPECIALIZED area. 2.) My children will go to trade school following graduation in a career that they have shown distinct interest and promise in. a0I honestly don’t believe the American Dream is for middle-class citizens anymore. Honestly, I think it’s the job of parents in today’s society to supplement as much of the dream as possible. Bankruptcy at this point would be like a dream come true. Please make it come true, so some of us struggling people can at least have the opportunity to start over. a0#help

  • Awhitake

    I’ve been hesitant about branching out of my 9-5 to get into this industry. Construction (particularly homes) is something that I’m fascinated by. How can I get started down this path in Houston? Seems like having a mentor is really the key?

  • Joanne

    This was the first time I’ve had outdoor pothos of my kids taken. I think I waited for the BEST photographer to take the pictures! I love how open Robin is to my ideas and what I’d like to capture. The kids enjoyed themselves and have already asked to take more pictures with Ms. Robin! Thank you, girl, for your beautiful work.