Building a Model Business

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

environment, and cost-effective. They weren’t taking advantage of this technology.” Modular construction became increasingly interesting to her, so she left her accounting job. “I started this company because I wanted to try something different.”
Despite having no startup capital and using borrowed office space, Warrior made her move. With the help of friends and family to staff her venture, she launched Warrior Group.

One of the hurdles Warrior Group had to overcome was convincing potential clients of modular construction’s benefits. For example, the U.S. Army was leaning more toward renovating barracks rather than having new ones built. After several meetings, Warrior persuaded the Army to go modular.

Another trying time came a few years later in 2005, when a $1.8 million construction project in Chicago didn’t go as planned. “One of our senior project managers at the time was working with a major subcontractor and taking kickbacks from him,” Warrior recalls. “In addition, the subcontractor was doing deficient work, which put us behind schedule. By the time we found out about it from the contracting officer, we were way behind schedule. So we had to fire our project manager and the subcontractor and hire a new subcontractor to finish the work. In order to finish on time, we had to work double time and correct what was done. We lost quite a bit of money on the project—a little more than $1 million.”

Warrior  was forced to lay off half of her staff of 20. “We had to get really lean. We still had some projects we were working on, but cash flow was an issue after that.”

A consultant recommended bankruptcy, but Warrior pushed through and contacted Texas Women Ventures Fund, an organization that invests in women-owned businesses. A $2 million loan from the fund allowed Warrior Group to hire a director of construction services as well as a chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

Feeling the Credit Crunch

It isn’t news that the recent troubles of the U.S. economy have affected the construction industry. Commercial starts have been hampered because some developers have had difficulty obtaining credit in a tumultuous market. Total starts for 2009 declined 18% for commercial buildings. However, there have been some signs of improvement. The total value of construction starts (excluding residential contracts) was $24.1 billion in January of this year, a 20.1% increase from January 2009. Consequently, Warrior Group saw an uptick in the amount of contracts secured.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.