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Home | AUSTIN | Spotlight | Spotlight - Brian Lauterjung, President, Rizzo Construction Inc

Spotlight - Brian Lauterjung, President, Rizzo Construction Inc

image Brian Lauterjung, President, Rizzo Construction Inc. Austin, TX

AUSTIN - Last March, Rizzo Construction Inc. founder Robert “Bob” Rizzo stepped down to enjoy a well-deserved retirement and passed the torch to his son-in-law Brian Lauterjung. Although Lauterjung has worked at the company for almost 20 years, he is finding his new role as company president to be a brave new world. With the help of great books, great mentors, great employees and a great father-in-law, Lauterjung enjoys his work more than ever.

 

 

Share a little about your father-in-law’s background, your background, and how you met.
    Bob has an architecture degree from The University of Texas. He started Rizzo Construction in Austin in 1982 and served as president since its inception.
    I grew up in Austin and graduated from Bowie High School. I went to TCU for two years to play soccer, but transferred to The University of Texas. I graduated from UT in 1996 with a degree in finance.
    I met Bob on the Fall of 1990. I was a senior at Bowie High School and asked a cute brunette named Andrea Rizzo, to go out for dinner and a movie.  Fortunately, she said yes and right then I knew that I was in it for the long haul. Andrea and I got married in September of 1997.
    I got a job with an apartment developer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and I worked there for about two and half years. I started out with RCI in January of 1999. I started out as a project manager/estimator and I’ve worked hard to hone my skills and enjoy learning something new every day.

How have you used your education in finance in your day-to-day work?
    It’s made the business side much easier to understand. I was able to step right in and was comfortable putting together project budgets, contracts, schedules and estimates. Being comfortable with numbers allowed me to focus on areas where I needed to learn a lot, and fast, especially how things worked in the field.
 
In March, Bob retired and you took on the role as company president. How did you both arrive at that decision?
    It’s been a process Bob and I have talked about and been working on for several years. I think he was finally in a spot where he was truly ready to take some time off and was looking forward to retirement. I think he felt comfortable with where the company was and with the experience that I had gained over the years. As eager as I was to make the transition, the timing couldn’t have worked out better. It definitely happened at the right time for both of us.

How did you prepare for this transition?
    Most of my preparation has been paying attention to, and learning from, Bob. His means and methods have proven to be successful and I don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel. His business model has worked for 36 years and I’m going to do my best to make the transition seamless. In addition, I have been reading leadership books and focusing on trying to understand people better. I also consulted with other people in the industry. There was an individual that was in a similar situation years ago and he helped me understand the dos, donts and processes that had and had not worked. One thing he suggested is that I don’t change anything for a year. He said there is going to be a lot to learn and do and that I should let the ship keep sailing and maintain standard operating procedures. After a year, if I start seeing things that I want to modify, that would be the time to start those modifications. I’m still in the phase where I’m trying not to rock the boat much.

What are some of the lessons you have learned in your new role?
    The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that a company’s greatest asset is its employees. Our employees work hard and are dedicated to providing our clients with the best quality and service day in and day out. Without their support and hard work this business wouldn’t thrive. Same goes for our subcontractors. They are key to our success and we are fortunate to have an outstanding subcontractor base that exhibits the same commitment and quality that we expect of ourselves.

What do you admire about Bob?
    He’s extremely well versed in construction and is the most knowledgeable person I’ve met in the business. His architecture background helps him put ideas on paper in a way that helps everyone, from the novice to the most experienced person, understand. His experience and expertise in construction is unmatched. Bob helped build Austin and he will be missed.
    The other thing I admire about Bob is his patience. Construction can be difficult, and Bob stays collected and calm, choosing to focus on finding solutions to problems rather than pointing blame.
    Finally, he is honest and treats people fair. He does what is right and never compromises his values.
   
Do you reach for the phone to call Bob more or less these days?
    The first six weeks I leaned on him a lot – maybe too much! – but I’ve tried to force myself to figure it out on my own.  I want him to enjoy his retirement so these days I only call him in an absolute emergency!

 Do you hear Bob’s voice in your head as you go about your day?
    I do. A lot of the decisions I make are made because I value what Bob taught me the last 20 years. I think about what he would do in certain situations and use that to make the best decision I can with the information at hand. 

What is Bob up to these days?

    He has done a little traveling and plans on doing more of that. He’s working at his house and in his yard a lot. He stops by the office once a week for a couple hours, but his favorite activity right now is spending as much time as possible with his grandkids.

Has the construction community been supportive of the change?
    People have been very supportive. Subcontractors, architects, engineers and clients have really helped to make this a smooth transition and I am very thankful to all of them for that.

What are your goals for the company?
    My immediate goal is to take care of our clients, the ones who have helped us be successful. We have a core group that has been very loyal and I want to make sure that our relationship with those people continues to be strong. Solidifying those relationships will allow us to focus on forming new relationships with clients and design teams in an attempt to slowly grow our company’s presence in the Central Texas area.
Share a little about your family and how you enjoy your free time.
    I will be married to my wife Andrea 21 years this September. We have a 13-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son.  They are our pride and joy and we are very proud of them. Lauren loves theatre and art and Lane loves soccer, video games and gymnastics.
    My wife and I love music and we try to get out, go to dinner and hear as much live music as we can. I like to go to the smaller, local shows and try to support the Texas music scene as much as I can. I still enjoy soccer on a limited basis, but spend most of my free time  –which isn’t much these days! – hunting and fishing. My kiddos join me outdoors just about every time I go which I truly enjoy.

I imagine, with your new role and responsibilities, how you manage your time is different now.
    Time management is extremely important and I’m still trying to master that concept. My days are longer, but I’ve enjoyed the last six months more than I have the last six years. I think my attitude toward work has changed a lot with what has transpired, and I see things from a different perspective. I realize that I’m fortunate to be in this position and I want to succeed. Whatever time it takes to get the job done is what it takes; it kind of goes with the territory. However, it doesn’t feel like work anymore…I feel blessed.
    General contractor and construction management company Rizzo Construction Inc. is in Austin. –mjm


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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net