Nuggets of Wisdom


Two veteran concrete contractors teamed up on October 8 to reveal some of the secrets to success they have learned over their combined 100 years of experience. Tommy Ruturra, president of Ruttura & Sons in New York City and Rocky Geans, former president of L.L. Geans Construction and now the star of the Rocky Geans Construction Business School, spent more than an hour discussing what it takes to succeed in concrete construction. This was much more than tips for concrete contractors, more like good advice for living. Here are a few of their nuggets of wisdom:

  • Develop a sense of urgency. “Learn how to get things done,” says Tommy. “Get the facts and make a decision.” Rocky noted that when something goes you have to drill down to the core of what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again, but don’t let things drag out. “When I come back from World of Concrete with a new idea,” says Tommy, “I try to implement it within 24 to 48 hours.”
  • “Perpetual education is very important for a leader,” says Rocky. “It never stops, and the World of Concrete is one of the best places to get great education. I once took the same class 5 years in a row until I completely understood the topic.”
  • Make the decision on when to buy equipment based on what work you expect to do in the future. “I will lease or rent equipment to make sure we’re happy with it and can make money with it before buying,” says Tommy. “Work with the right manufacturers to get the right equipment,” says Rocky.
  • Rocky notes that he always called his people coworkers rather than employees. “Take care of your coworkers but get rid of bad workers right away. All people have different drivers. It’s your fault for not getting people into the right place. If you take care of them good people will draw more good people.” 
  • “Look for people with passion and a sense of urgency and a work ethic,” says Tommy. He told the story of how he once hired a young woman at a coffee shop because of her attitude and she turned into a great employee.
  • Both noted that developing a relationship with your customers is key. “Take care of your customers,” says Rocky. “We always left the job site cleaner than we found it.” “Be a resource to your clients,” says Tommy. “We want them to be raving fans of Ruttura.”
  • Understand your company financial statements. And understand that volume is not the answer. Growth can kill your company’s cash flow if you don’t do it in a measured way. Don’t spend money you don’t have. Rocky says find a good CPA who understands construction.
  • You also need to develop relationships with your suppliers: you ready-mix producers and equipment suppliers. When cash flow becomes a problem, they will work with you if you have developed a relationship and trust.
  • Magni, maker of a 360-degree rotating telehandlers, sponsored this webinar and is obviously the kind of manufacturer contractors want to work with because they don’t just sell equipment, they provide solutions. Tommy noted that with his company they started by renting one Magni and now they own 15 of them. “It’s a genius little machine.” He notes that for his company it takes the place of a telehandler, a crane and a man lift. And it’s safe and efficient and doesn’t require a crane license in New York City.

Following their intitital presentation, Rocky and Tommy answered questions for more than half an hour, moderated by Magni’s Gary Weisman. The full recording of this presentation is available here. Anyone in any kind of business will benefit from this dose of common sense. I cannot recommend it more highly.