Title: Owner, Lloyd Concrete Services
Hometown: Bedford, VA
Tell us how you got started, back in the day.
When I got out of the Navy, I went to work for a fellow in the concrete business. We actually poured the first concrete on Liberty Mountain back in 1973. But pretty soon, I just wanted more. I went out on my own in 1976, and I had nothing. My mother and father (my father worked in a factory) didn’t have any money to lend me. When I started, I didn’t even have a trowel machine. I did everything by hand. I finally saved up 250 bucks to buy a trowel machine and bought an old truck. And you know what? I still have that first machine, and I still have that old truck.
You officially formed Lloyd Concrete Services in 1986.
What would you say was one of your biggest learning experiences or setbacks as a business owner?
The biggest setback was in 2004 when my cousin embezzled from me. He took everything we had, and I trusted him because I trust everybody. But I called every single creditor that I had and said, “I’m going to pay you, and I’m going to pay you every penny I owe you before I die.” And I was blessed with great people that I work for in this area that trusted me to say, “Don’t even bid the jobs, just treat us fair.” And in one year, we were back on our feet.
You are staying very busy now. What types of projects have you been working on?
The most fascinating thing we are doing right now is a job at Kennedy Space Center where the owner of Amazon is building a one-million-square-foot facility to build spaceships for private space travel. And we do a lot of work at Liberty University. Not only did I pour the first concrete on the mountain in 1973, I poured the original football stadium, the Vines Center and so on. LU has been such a blessing for us, my family and this company. And since I’m a Christian and I believe the good Lord has blessed us, in turn, we give back. Last week we did a little job for Habitat for Humanity. We also recently put in softball field dugouts at E.C. Glass and helped with some restrooms at the YMCA.
Not only do you work with several of your family members, you’ve had very little turnover since you started Lloyd Concrete Services.
I can’t say enough about my employees; I could never be where I’m at without these guys. Five of us started together many years ago. And I still have those men—and now I have their sons too. It’s a big, big family. I’m in business to make money, but I want my people to make a good living too. And over the years, I’ve taken in a lot of guys who have been down on their luck, and I’ve taught them trades.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up no later than 4 a.m. every day. Some mornings, though, we have to be at the shop at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. to get to an early job. Then we will go out and work usually 10, 12 or 14 hours. My guys will go home from there, but I always go back to the office. I leave when it’s dark and come home when it’s dark, but I love to work, and I truly love what I do. My grandfather told me years ago, “If you really love what you do, it’s not a job.” And while I love what I do, I can’t figure it out either. Every day is different. Just when you think you figure it out, something changes.
You recently received some major recognition from Concrete Construction Magazine—named as its 2017 Most Influential Person. Were you surprised?
It was all a big surprise to me and happened so fast. To be honored among all the people in the industry is such an honor. They sent a professional photographer to take a photo of me for the cover of the magazine. I was on a job in Charlottesville when the man and woman pulled up. They said I needed to sit down so they could put makeup on me. I said, “You are going to put makeup on me then I have to go back out and be with my men?!” I told them they could brush some of that stuff on my face but nothing else! My son was standing to the side taking pictures with his cell phone.
How have you been influential in changing parts of the industry?
We have certification programs for concrete finishers. They have to get certified and take a test. But these guys—they’re not used to taking written tests, and the tests were a huge hindrance to them. Not to mention they had things in the test that didn’t amount to a hill of beans. I pushed for changes. Now they can take their certification, and it’s hands-on only. Examiners can go to a company and watch the person do the work to see if they are ready. And we can pass them without that written test. My thought is—let’s grade them on what they actually do out there. And they get one chance to do it. It has to be done right the first time.
What advice do you have for someone reading this who wants to start up their own business in the construction world?
It’s going to take a lot of hours—it’s hard work. But hard work definitely pays off. I can tell you that from experience. You have to be available to answer telephone calls and do what you say you’re going to do. You don’t run away from problems. If you have a problem you hit it straight on and you fix it.
And find a supportive spouse. I have the best wife, Kathy. In the concrete business you never know when it’s going to finish. There have been times that I’ve stayed out all night long to finish a job then I’m back to work the next day. Any woman to stay with a concrete guy is first class.
How would you describe yourself as a leader? What is your leadership style?
I’m a motivator. And there’s nothing at this company that these guys do that I haven’t done. I still get out there with them on the jobs. But they don’t let me do much anymore. But I at least give them that moral support. I’ve always told them, if you have an issue, please come talk to me because that communication is so important.
What does life look like for you outside of work?
I’m always working then too! I farm. I’ve got cows, and I grow hay. Last year was the first year in my life that I took a week’s vacation. We went on a cruise, and I told Kathy coming back, “I kind of like this vacation thing!” We are a very close family. All of the family lives on the farm, and we love to spend time together. We have family lunch every Sunday, all of those old-fashioned things.
Why do you love living and working in Central Virginia?
I love the local contractors I work with here. They took a chance on me many years ago and have helped me in grow in the industry as well as build lasting relationships. I have worked nationwide for many companies and still, the local contractors are my closest and best customers. And the people. The people are friendly, they are loving and they are helpful. They are good people. And I love the four seasons. I’ve been all over from Arizona to Niagara Falls to Key West, and it’s all beautiful, but it’s nothing like home and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.