Paul Garibotti, Founder and CEO, Northfleet Concrete Floors, Inc. , A DotCom Magazine Exclusive Interview
- Let us start by telling us about your business.
I worked as a commercial lender for the bank of Nova Scotia, but I didn’t like it. One of my competitors at the time was looking for an estimator. I knew nothing about concrete. I was always good in sales and good with numbers, so I gave it a try. After a couple years there, I was recruited by another company to help take them to the next level. That was a huge success, and I grew the business from $800 thousand in annual sales up to about $15 million. During the last recession, we had a massive corporate divorce. I owned half the business and didn’t want to participate anymore financially, so we went our separate ways.
I re-emerged in 2013 with my new business. We’re an industrial, commercial, and institutional concrete contractor. We work in the province of Ontario mainly, but I’ve worked in other provinces in Canada, down in the United States, and in the Caribbean. I’m 55 years old now and am looking forward to passing things off to the next generation of my business. I’m basically putting a team together to be more relevant in our industry with youth and different ideas, and hopefully they can take my brand that I’ve been building and grow it. I’m going to be nurturing the purchase of the business by the younger people in my company. We cultivate a really good corporate culture. We’re very inclusive and we want more youth to come to us with their ideas to see if they can improve on what I started years ago.
- Please tell us how you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
I try to use their dollars wisely to build them a better floor that’s economical. I don’t try to oversell or upsell unless it makes financial sense for them. I try to get them the most bang for their buck. I guess if you put it down to one statement it would be to be responsible with their money so that they are happy and don’t have buyer’s remorse when they buy a solution from me. We’ve always prided ourselves that if a person has a problem on one of their sites with concrete work, we try to work with them to come up with solutions. We marry our experience and our imagination with fiscal responsibility and respecting their money as if it was ours.
- Please tell us the one thing that separates your business from the competition.
I think it’s the part of our corporate culture that creates a real sense of community. We have a very good culture. We have about 100 employees, and we’re more of a family business than anything else.
And to finish this section, please tell us what the one major key to your company’s success is?
We don’t quit. We find a solution to even the most difficult of our customer’s problems, and we try to do that with budget in mind. We do very difficult work. We are actually attracted to the more difficult projects because nobody wants to deal with them. But we manage to pull them off and people notice that. Plus, we have a lot of youth in our company which keeps us fresh and relevant.
- For our readers just starting to build a company, what advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
If you don’t intend to follow through, don’t do it. If you decide you’re going to do it, never give up. Just keep your head down and work as hard as you can. If you do this, you’ll fail more than you win, but your wins will be big.
- For entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what big piece of advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
Stick to your core values. The measure of a person is not how they are when things are going well, but how they react when things are going poorly. Sometimes you must let adversity change you. Embrace it and find a way to maneuver through and not be obstinate towards it. Keep working hard and find a solution. It might not be the one you want but it might be a solution that’s best for all, for yourself personally, for your company and your employees.
- In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
I stay on top of things by having access to information and getting it organized in a way so I can use it to keep my team acting and reacting with the changing marketplace. A prime example is our current pandemic. The ground under us hasn’t been firm – it’s been shifting from quarter to quarter – but in a year that I assumed was going to be something where we might have taken a big hit financially will end up being a career year for us and with another career year on the horizon. We’re not through this completely, and there’s going to be a couple of curveballs probably thrown at us, but we’ve been able to take things as they come and deal with them when they get there.
- What is your “Why”? In one sentence, why do you get up in the morning?
My responsibility and accountability as a business owner, not just to my family, but to my employees and their futures.
- In one sentence, what is the most important thing one has to do to be a great leader?
Have the ability to sympathize with others and find common ground with them.
- In one sentence, describe how important your customers are to your business?
It’s a symbiotic relationship: Without the customer we can’t go to work, but the people that service them and put it together for them, which are the business, are just as important as the customers.
- In one sentence, describe a positive way that technology can make the world a better place?
Technology provides for innovation in any field, whether it’s concrete or medicine or alleviating toil and suffering in other countries.
- In one sentence, tell us something positive to motivate our readers?
Do the greater good, which is to serve mankind, not the banks.
- In one sentence, tell us how you start your day to get ready?
I do 30 minutes of mindfulness first thing in the morning and when I’m ready to go to sleep at night.
- In one sentence, describe how you handle rejection and setback?
Rejection and setback happens, but it doesn’t have to be a doomsday thing.
- In one sentence, describe what your hiring philosophy is?
I look for people who are self-motivated, who nurture things, and are not fixated on money, which in the end will take care of itself.
- In one sentence, describe how you keep your sanity in a competitive business environment?
I focus on meeting the needs of my clients and making sure my employees are also doing well.