Curt Boyd is president and Suzan Boyd is vice president of Academy Roofing Inc. in Aurora, Colo. The husband and wife team founded their company in 1980, and it was Roofing Contractor’s Residential Contractor of the Year in 2008. Theirs is a success story, but the heart of their session at Best of Success was a cautionary tale. “Things I Wish I Knew When Starting My Business” was designed to show prospective business owners pitfalls to avoid.
When they started their company, the Boyds were just 25 and 27 years old, they had limited business background, no business plan and very little capital. On the plus side, Curt had roofing knowledge he had gained at reputable companies, and Suzan had a lot of administrative knowledge, so they made a good team. They also had a conservative attitude about money. Another thing they had going for them? “Failure was not an option,” said Suzan. “We’re both can-do people.”
Looking back, they recommended that others do something they initially did not: assemble a team of industry experts including an insurance agent, attorney, accountant, banker and financial planner. “These people are going to be with you as long as you own your business,” said Suzan. They better be good people, and they better know the industry.”
Learning to read a financial statement is crucial for business owners. “Look at every line in the financial statement — not just the bottom line,” urged Suzanne. “Some people say, ‘I have a feeling.’ Business can’t be a feeling. It’s backed up by dollars and cents.”
She urged people to join industry associations and read local business publications to keep them up-to-date on their markets.
Risk management is essential in the roofing industry, noted Curt. “What we do is dangerous. It’s dangerous in the field, and it’s dangerous as a business. Money spent in preparing for risk management — safety training, vehicle inspections — has returned to us five-fold.”
The Boyds agree business leaders must understand and prepare for their role as a manager. That includes making sure employees are well suited to their positions. Their recommendation: “Establish a company culture and hire employees who fit into that culture.”