Trenchless Technology

NOV 2018

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28 T R E N C H L E S S T EC H N O LO GY N OV E M B E R 2018 N O R T H A M E R I C A N M I C R O T U N N E L I N G 2 0 1 8 R E V I E W was walking out for el- ementary school." Decades later, those early memories pro - vided a visual remind- er for a lesson learned by many second-gen- eration owners: your challenges will be your own. " My dad had trouble making payroll some- times in the early days because you only have so much money on the books to build, and jobs were stopped. But fast forward to when I walk in, and we've built this machine and have to keep feed- ing it . So we'll defi- nitely make payroll; the problem now is that we need to build more projects to make profit ." With 27 active proj- ects across 10 states, 340 employees, five operating equipment yards, and more than 700 pieces of equip - ment , Northeast Rem- sco now faces the challenges of a large, national firm. " When you take a class in col - lege, they don't teach you how to run a $150 million compa- ny with growth opportunity," Acosta jokes. But it 's a point worth noting . " When my dad started out , he was like, ' Well what do I have to lose? ' Because you really don't have a lot to lose starting up. But we have a lot to lose now, and that 's going to play in our decision- making ." And because there is a lot on the line, the company has addressed an area that sometimes gets overlooked in family businesses – succession planning . The transition of power in a family business is a delicate process that often presents a very specific challenge: how do you seamlessly transition not only ownership, but management style and structure in a mature firm? For Northeast Remsco, it meant bringing in outside help. Unfortu- nately, Gutierrez was forced to start planning for succession earlier than intended when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. If something were to happen, they needed to be certain that everything was in place. Like all com- panies, Northeast Remsco provides a livelihood not only for the owner 's family, but for the families of all of their employees. It is a stewardship and a serious responsibility and needs to be as planned as possible. Fortunately, Gutierrez had a steady recovery, but the ordeal pushed the family to take beginning steps. The family engaged consultants to help move the company into a family trust and began the process of advancing Acosta into a leadership position. " It allowed us to ask the big questions with- in the family – where are we going? How do we structure this? How do my brothers fit in? John and Brian work here, Angel doesn't . Then there's my sister Patty who has special needs – it 's a lot to ac- count for," Acosta says. " There are still some big questions to an- swer, and it 's helpful to have a consultant to help continue that conversation and that process. I mean that was 10 years ago – I was only 34. I remem- ber getting a call from an uncle and he said, ' We trust you.' Was I ready? I 'll look you in the eye and tell you yes, but was I really ready? I didn't know! " During the succes- sion planning process Acosta and the family began to work with ad- ditional business con- sultants to help with the overall structure of operations for the organization. "I've learned some things from my dad, I've learned some things from the people that work here, I absorb some from seminars and the people I meet, but at the same time I still have to be honest that I don't know everything. I don't know all those components and having a third-party consultant – it's not a bad thing ," he says. "It doesn't mean you're not smart enough or that you need to work harder. We're focused on working smarter – it's not about working a 16-hour day. It's about making the most of the time you have without burning out. I think our man- agers really appreciate that, and they 're really a part of that process." Celebrating a milestone: first planned, curved microtunnel ever done in the United States.

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