A Mountain West Icon
Fred Joseph leaves indelible mark on Colorado construction
It’s safe to say that without Fred Joseph, the Colorado region of The Blue Book Building and Construction Network® (The Blue Book Network) would not have the same presence in the Centennial State.
“I call him our founding father,” confirms Mike Hill, Executive Director of Sales, when asked about his retiring Regional Sales Manager. “He was our first hire in 2005 when we established the region. I firmly believe that Fred’s charm, reliability and resourcefulness are the foundation that supports the strong reputation the region maintains.”
As Mike and others know, it would be easy to show Fred’s influence with facts. For instance, since he started with The Blue Book Network, the Colorado region has been a top performer every year, growing from a handful to over 700 commercial construction customers.
But, those numbers don’t tell the complete story of Fred’s impact or why people are drawn to this humble, uniquely quiet man. His legacy is firmly embedded in the hearts and minds of those who worked with him.
Fred’s temperament was formed early on in the small town of Rocky River, Ohio, a community outside of Cleveland. The youngest of three boys, he learned early to watch and listen. After high school, he attended Ohio University and earned a degree in marketing, with an eye on sales. Upon graduation, he followed his older brother to Colorado where he was hired by the Yellow Pages to sell advertising and, after a decade, joined the media and entertainment service AOL Time Warner, also as a sales and marketing representative.
When the bottom fell out of AOL, Fred was laid off, and at the time married with two children, he sought a lifestyle change. Needing an income and always creative, Fred started a deck cleaning and staining business—a short-lived quest that would provide his first, albeit not overly successful, foray into construction.
He laughingly recalls that he needed money and fortunately a local headhunter called about a sales opportunity at The Blue Book Network. “I interviewed with Mike [Hill], and was hired that same week as an account manager,” he says. He shares how the family-owned culture came through right away in that first conversation, and adds, “I felt like The Blue Book mantra was to build relationships, which fit quite well with my philosophy of a good marketing professional.”
With little expertise in the commercial construction business, Fred set out to listen and learn everything he could about his new potential customers. He talked to contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, vendors—everyone and anyone in the Denver, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs areas.
Looking back at Fred’s focused mission to educate himself, Mike notes, “He came to us with no knowledge of this industry—and within a short time, he not only knew the industry, he had built The Blue Book Network brand in ways we had not considered.”
One example of his creative way of thinking occurred in early 2006. The newly formed Colorado team was directed to host a regional Network Showcase, an event to bring contractors, subcontractors and suppliers together. Mike and Fred got together to discuss location and timing. “Initially, I was thinking a hotel conference room,” Mike says. “As we were planning, Fred said, ‘Why not Mile High Stadium?’ “
The initial reaction was that it would be too expensive, too big. However, Fred had already done his homework and found that it was not only cost-effective, it was centrally located with free parking. The Blue Book Network’s Colorado region proceeded to host the next 12 Showcase events at the stadium. “That turned out to be our No. 1 networking event and the lowest-cost event across the company,” Mike says. “The stadium events essentially put us on the map in Colorado.”
By 2007, Fred was promoted to Regional Manager when Mike transferred back to the company’s home office in New York.
Fred was also the first to join the local construction-related association chapters, including Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the American Subcontractors Association (ASA) and the Hispanic Contractors of Colorado (HCC), to name a few.
By 2009, he was on the ABC board of directors and an active participant of the association’s membership committee. “My thought was, ‘What better way to learn more about this industry than to sit with these talented individuals and listen?’ I found quickly that I really enjoyed talking to contractors and other construction professionals. This is a great industry made up of hardworking, salt-of-the-earth people and I loved to hear their stories…and then try to figure out what they needed so I could help,” Fred says.
And help he did. In one instance, ASA was struggling for new membership. Once a month, the organization would host a subcontractor meet-and-greet at a General Contractor’s office. Fred suggested partnering for the events, and using The Blue Book Network’s marketing and database platform to expand visibility. The following event jumped from a handful of subcontractors to near 40.
Brett Denison had similar experiences. She met Fred in 2010 when she was ABC’s director of member services and recalls those early days quite well. Brett says, “I was with ABC for nearly six years and had the pleasure of working with Fred to help our contractor members. When I left ABC to work for a general contractor, Fred was at the top of my list to help build our industry partnerships.” Brett, currently the Director of Business Development at iiCON Construction Colorado, LLC, shares, “I’ll always appreciate Fred’s positivity, willingness to help and that he followed through on everything he said he would do.”
Ron Carboy, Owner of Peripheral Manufacturing, Inc. and longtime friend and colleague shares like thoughts. “He’s been a good friend and an excellent manager of people. I’ve had five account managers over the 15 years that I’ve been with The Blue Book Network, and everyone knew his or her stuff—that’s a direct reflection on Fred’s leadership and training. The Blue Book Network was lucky to have him,” he says.
Fred’s team feels the same way.
The Blue Book Network’s Colorado region includes seven Business Development Consultants today, all with a minimum of five years working for Fred, and all with the same respect and admiration.
Charlie Atwell believes Fred’s superpower is his ability to read people and know how to help them succeed. Charlie, a Business Development Consultant in the Colorado region, joined the company in 2007 right after Fred was promoted. He recalls the early days when many contractors in the area didn’t know anything about the organization—but Fred found a way to inspire each individual to use their unique skills to build success.
“Fred’s like a great sports coach—he understands that everyone has their own style and helps each one of us see the big picture and direct our energy in the best way. For me, he’s a friend, a confidant and a therapist, all rolled up into a terrific manager. He’s a really personable guy that people naturally like and he truly cares about customer success—and that’s why he’s the face of the Colorado region,” Charlie says.
Another member of his team of Business Development Consultants, Kerry Kilander, who started in 2013, agrees and adds, “What’s incredibly special about Fred is that he trusts in the talent of his people and he gives us the freedom to prove ourselves while providing unconditional encouragement both personally and professionally. It is because of this that his team has the utmost respect for Fred and always wants to make him successful and proud. Fred has taught me a lot about patience and grace, not only with the things that come at you day to day, but more importantly with myself. He has supported me and cheered me through some of the happiest and hardest times of my life over the past seven years.”
She concludes, “He truly is the best boss I will probably ever work with. I’ve been incredibly lucky to know, learn from, and to work with Fred Joseph.”
Genuine, loyal and consistent are words that Becky Buitrago uses to describe Fred. The Regional Sales Director for the West Region says, “He’s just wonderful. He’s a steady, likable guy and I am so thankful I got to work with him. I will miss him more than I can say but I know I will always be able to call him my friend.”
Richard Johnson, President of The Blue Book Network, also congratulated Fred on his outstanding career as a founding father of the region. “Fred’s influence goes far beyond his 700+ customers throughout Colorado. Fred passionately brought General Contractors on board to provide great opportunities for our customers. It’s rewarding to see a longtime member of The Blue Book family poised to enjoy the next chapter of life with his family and friends. All the best, Fred!”
For Fred, The Blue Book Network and all the people he’s met since joining the company in 2005 are family. “The job has been very gratifying. But it’s the people that I’ve met and built friendships with that are the most important and make the job most fulfilling. I’ve been super lucky to have a core team that’s been with me for many years,” he says.
While Fred is retiring from The Blue Book Network, he will continue to reside in the Denver area and looks forward to seeing friends and colleagues on all of his favorite golf courses!