Macura Lays Out Blueprint for Construction Company Success
The background Mike Macura brought to his start-up company in 2013 looked like a blueprint for success. He grew up in the site work business; his father had been in the industry for 25 years. He had a college degree in engineering and seven years of experience as a construction manager. He had a real passion for the industry.
And, just as important, he had a solid business plan. For the most part he stuck with the plan; when he got off track he learned some valuable lessons. Today, Macura Excavating, headquartered in North Grafton, Massachusetts, is a well-established site work subcontractor with sales in excess of $2 million annually.
"Our name was well-known throughout the Metro-Boston area, thanks to the work of my father (Mike Sr.)," he says. "I was able to piggyback on some of his longtime relationships. That made it easier to break into the business. But right from the start I wanted to operate a different type of company. My focus has always been on commercial projects in various industries in lieu of residential."
The 32-year-old Macura admits he still has plenty to learn as new challenges surface regularly. "I've had my ups and downs, but I don't regret anything I've experienced," he says. "As long as you keep your head down, continue to move forward and have the drive to be successful, then you will be."
When asked for suggestions on getting into the construction business and being successful, he passed along some ideas from his original plan, along with adjustments he made along the way:
Be Efficient in Everything You Do
"Every little bit counts - even the smallest thing is important," Macura says. "Staff the job with the right amount of people and the proper equipment for what you are doing.
"Develop relationships with as many people as you can in your local construction market, from civil engineers to developers. Stay constantly engaged in what's going on. Spend time not only doing the work, but set aside a good portion of your time for business development. You need to always keep building a backlog of work."
Find Your Niche
"Look for the right size jobs that you can do efficiently and profitably," Macura says. "I don't dabble in things I am not good at. Don't take on large public jobs if you do not have experience in large public jobs. Don't take on small residential work if it's not going to be profitable. This is one area where I've made some improvement in how I manage the company.
"Continue to build equity in your company by reinvesting profits back into the business. Over time that will make your firm more stable and allow you to add capital and resources."
Pick the Right Client and the Right Job
"Don't try to do everything," Macura says. "I've done that and paid the price. When I was concerned about maintaining a volume of work I panicked and took on some work that I should have avoided. Sometimes you are better off sitting at the office and waiting for the next job rather than taking on a job that you will regret. Of course, when you are just starting out, that is easier said than done. Being a new business forces you to make decisions to keep revenue up and overhead and operating costs paid every month. I would have been in a better position to pass on suspect jobs if that aspect of the business was not such a financial burden.
"Know who you are working for. Get references for the people who are going to hire you because you will be investing a lot of time and money financing the job and you need to be confident that you are going to get paid in a timely manner. Make sure the outfit that hires you has a good record of paying their subs on time.
Don't Overextend Yourself
"Have a financial plan," Macura says. "Don't buy a bunch of equipment because you think you are going to have work. Only buy what you need. Rent if you are not sure about upcoming work or don't plan to use the equipment more than 30 or 40 percent of the time.
"Look for equipment that is productive with good pricing, warranty and dealer support. Initially, I rented a number of different brands of excavators and wheel loaders from Equipment East, our local dealer. When I could afford to purchase equipment I contacted dealers representing various top brands in the industry. I would not be where I am today without the support of Equipment East, especially Dan Clifford who has been a great friend for many decades to the Macura family."
Macura owns five Doosan machines: two DX225LC-3 crawler excavators and one DX140LCR reduced-tail-swing crawler excavator, and DL250-5 and DL200-3 wheel loaders with general purpose buckets. He says the machines are quality products. Fuel efficiency, for example, is one area where the machines are superior, according to Macura. "Operate them in the right mode and you will experience very good fuel efficiency," he says. "That affects the bottom line on every job."
That certainly was the case at a recent site work project in Marlborough, Massachusetts, where Macura used one of his DX225LC-3 excavators and a DL200-3 wheel loader for the construction of a new day care center. Among the challenges he faced on the six-month-long job was the installation of water and sewer services up a slope with 20-foot-deep drop sewer manholes. His team cut the slope and installed trench shoring to handle the work.
Create a Team Atmosphere
"Make sure the people you hire can work together successfully," Macura says. "In my case, I have some type of personal history with all my employees. Our good dynamics carry over to the jobsite. We are mindful of schedules and work in harmony with the other trades. These are the kinds of things that general contractors look for to make their lives easier and the project successful."