Tom Dedin is the founder and CEO of Constructus International, a group of professional consultants who help contractors improve their profitability through continued education and the implementation of cutting-edge business practices.
MO: You didn’t start your career as an entrepreneur. Can you tell how you began, and what led you to start Constructus?
Tom: I went to college with hopes of playing baseball. That didn’t work out because of an arm injury, so I started helping on the coaching side. While I was an assistant coach at Regis University, I opened a baseball school. This helped me make supplemental income at night; I also worked at a waterproofing company during the day. During my nine years there, I was able to learn about estimating and project management. I was grateful to have the opportunity to learn how to bid jobs the right way. We were very confident offering competitive pricing, knowing we had all materials, labor, equipment, and overhead costs covered.
As a natural competitor, I was always upset to see bids get handed to general contractors who lacked detail. I would wish my competitor the best of luck making money, because I was very confident that my bid price and process were correct in order to make the job profitable. I continued to compare my competitors’ bids and received feedback from contractors. As I investigated the low bids, I saw that, oftentimes, my bids were undercut because my competition had inferior takeoffs and incompetent thought processes for how to complete a job profitably. Then and there, I saw a need to start a business to educate contractors on how to run a successful and profitable company — and win bids by estimating the right way. This is how Constructus was born!
MO: How have you used your passion for coaching others in your current career?
Tom: I use my passion for coaching to help contractors, whether that means sharing my expertise with a young contractor or introducing that same person to someone with more relevant expertise. I have been able to “dig” into a company and help identify and solve problems by showing them what I know or bringing in someone else who has experience in a specific part of that business. I haven’t always been “the” expert; I just became the matchmaker who helped solve a problem by bringing in the expert. I love seeing others get better, and I love being part of their success!
This passion comes from being part of a family of teachers. My mother taught piano; both my grandmother and grandfather taught piano, organ, and other musical instruments, and my uncle was one of the top high school football coaches in the state of Illinois. My father was a baseball coach at the University of Illinois and Regis University. He was also an English professor. Both my sisters received teaching degrees, like I did; we all have the passion to improve others’ lives.
MO: You have succeeded in creating a company centered on doing what you have a passion for. What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs looking to turn passion into profits?
Tom: First and foremost, do what you have a passion for. Develop a trade or skill that will allow you to be of value to a company or individual. Once you find a skill or trade you are passionate about, you won’t work a day in your life because your work won’t feel like work — it will feel like playtime. I’m not saying it will all be bliss; you still have a business to run, and with that comes playing by the rules of business. There will be times when you won’t want to do something because you don’t have the experience, but that’s when you bring in someone knowledgeable and qualified to help. My advice: Do what you do well. Identify the aspects of business you don’t do well, and find someone to help you with those.
MO: What has been the most difficult part of the process of starting your own company so far?
Tom: Because I had the passion, desire, and drive to run my own business, starting out on my own was a seemingly easy move. However, I lacked the marketing and sales expertise necessary to run a business, so I had to learn the art of marketing my business and myself. I also realized that I lacked experience in strategic planning and raising capital, which caused my company growth to be stagnant.
MO: What is the most valuable piece of advice that you can provide someone looking to start his or her own business?
MO: Out of everything you’ve achieved thus far, what are you most proud of?
Tom: I am proud to own a business that is designed to help other companies become more sustainable and more profitable; in turn, they have the opportunity to help the families within their organizations live better lives. I’m also proud of what I have been able to learn and absorb over the years by being associated with the fine people who have mentored me.
MO: Where do you see the future taking you?
Tom: I think I’ll always have the need to help others in some way. With Constructus now a web-based company, we will be able to stretch our wings and show people around the globe how to develop sustainable companies. We want to be involved in changing America’s economy. We want to help turn around family businesses and allow them to succeed in today’s new economy.
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