web analytics
Home | DALLAS / FORT WORTH | Spotlight | Spotlight - Michael Shahan, Concrete Contact, Justin, TX

Spotlight - Michael Shahan, Concrete Contact, Justin, TX

image Michael Shahan, Owner, Concrete Contact, Justin, TX

DALLAS/FT WORTH - Michael Shahan’s company, Concrete Contact, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, but Shahan may not have time for party planning. Busier than ever, with a roll-up-the-sleeves-and-just-start-working attitude, Shahan is focused on finishing what is in front of him and his crew and planning for upcoming projects.

 

 

Share a little about your background.
    I was born in Sherman and raised in a family of doctors and lawyers, but I don’t think that it was ever expected that I follow in their footsteps. I had many other relatives, including uncles, who worked with their hands.

How did you become interested in the construction field?

    He’s retired now, but the first contractor I worked for, a captain of the Plano fire department, mentored me. He also had a construction business, so he worked at the fire department every third day; I came in those days and helped him run jobs during high school and college. That’s how I entered the construction business; I learned everything from him. He was a friend of mine, so I could bounce ideas off of him, and ask him what he thought about different trades. That is what led me to the concrete side of the industry.

What path did your career take after college?

    After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of North Texas in 2005, I immediately started a concrete pump company with a partner. It was an idea we both came up with as we studied the marketplace. It was a unique niche that we felt was under-supplied at the time. We did a lot of research, talked to a lot of companies and followed through with it.
    I was younger, and I didn’t have as many responsibilities in my personal life. I knew that it would be the only opportunity; if I didn’t do it then and stick with it, it would be harder the older I got. I decided to jump in right away; I had the opportunity and I took it.
   
What was the first year of business ownership like for you?
    The first year of the business was figuring the ins and outs. It was a little more complicated than I initially imagined. The massive amount of little things that financially add up, I didn’t initially account for: Something as small as pencils and pens, tire wear, every little bit of unexpected overhead – when you add it all together, the cost is significant.  Also, I had to find out how to please every different customer, as well as collect money and put it back through the business so that it’s sustainable.

When did you move on from the concrete pump company to establishing Concrete Contact?
    An offer to sell came in about four years later, and once I sold the business, I decided I wanted to stay in concrete. I liked the pumping side, but there were some things about it I knew wouldn’t work since I wanted to start a family soon. Many of the hours in the pump business were at night and I needed more flexibility, so I ventured into the other side of concrete. I bought more equipment and started Concrete Contact in 2008.

How has Concrete Contact evolved?
    Concrete Contact involves concrete pouring, so I was working on bigger jobs and bringing a lot of different traits together. I still hire concrete pump companies to pump my concrete all of the time. I have more managerial positions with this job as opposed to being a single category subcontractor.
    I had quite a bit of experience on both sides of it, working my contractors by running jobs and crews, and that was something that the new company required. The lessons from the pump company on the financial side and customer side carried over pretty well.
    Concrete sawing and removal evolved into large commercial demos and removals, which necessitated the need for a division to pour all of the concrete back. It soon became a turnkey operation that now includes decorative stamps, seals, stains and walls.
    At one point, my company got really big and I had about 20 guys on payroll. We were doing massive jobs, but one rain delay means having 20 guys on payroll really digs [into the company’s profits]. I backed off to a very comfortable level – about eight employees – and I’m really happy where we are. This way, I can give much better customer service. I can have the time to be with each customer.

What lessons have you learned in the 10 years since you started Concrete Contact?
    One of the best lessons I learned was that you can’t take every job. Sometimes you have to say no. I understand that I can’t sell every single job, and if I were to try to, it just wouldn’t work. I’ve learned to maintain the inflow and make the right decisions before the job starts with the customer and the contract instead of just trying to jump into things and work it out as I go.
   
What advice would you give the next generation of possible construction business owners?

    I would definitely suggest keeping your ears open and taking in as much as you can. When you learn a lesson under someone else, it’s a lot better than learning it on your own, because lessons are expensive when you are the only one to fall for them.

What do you do when you have free time?
    My wife Kristyn and I enjoy doing a lot of outdoor activities with our 8-year-old Sonny, 5-year old Willie and 3-year-old Sloan. I spend every second that I can with them.
    I live on two acres, and I have a deer-hunting lease and a lake house close by. My DIY projects are a little bit bigger than most people’s; I have a collection of old tractors in my backyard.

Do they ever come to your office to learn about what Dad does?
    I take them out every once in a while, especially when I know there is going to be big equipment because I know they’ll get excited. They really like it!

You said you never felt pressure to join your family’s line of work. Will you encourage your kids to join your business, or will you encourage them to follow their own path?
    I would encourage them to do whatever they like. I would never put pressure on anyone to do anything they don’t want to. I’m going to leave it an open book for them and let them fill in the blanks.
   
How do you plan to celebrate your company’s 10-year anniversary?
    I haven’t even thought about it! I’m just looking to make it to Saturday of this week. I’m an owner/operator, so if there is a gap, I’m the one who fills it. I also have the motto of ‘I will never ask anyone to do something that I’m not willing or can’t do.’ It keeps everybody happier.

What do you and your employees do to unwind?
    We do cookouts, usually four times a year; I have big barbecue smokers, and we’ll do a big cookout and take a break every once in a while.

What do you hope the future holds for you personally and professionally?
    Personally, I’m pretty happy. I have bought the house that I will probably stay in, or at least raise my kids in until they are long gone.
    Businesswise, I am very happy. I’ve been bigger and I’ve been smaller and sometimes going bigger is not all it’s cracked up to be. When it’s time for someone in the company to step it up and take it over more, I’ll steadily grow with that.

Do you think you will retire as owner of Concrete Contact, or do you think you will ever start another business?
    I’ve dabbled in other businesses; I’m an entrepreneur and I’m always open for everything, but I think I will always hang on to Concrete Contact just because I believe that I can’t just give that name away to someone unless I knew for sure that they would do it right.
    Justin-based subcontractor Concrete Contact offers concrete services. ­–mjm


Need a Reprint?

Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net