Paving a Path to Explosive Success
Family-Owned WarrenCo Thrives on Being Business Savvy
As one of Indiana’s fastest-growing businesses, WarrenCo Construction & Paving, LLC provides commercial-grade concrete and asphalt paving and remediation services to clients in and around Indianapolis. It is also the state’s largest direct-to-consumer residential concrete company.
The family-owned firm is led by Dean Warren, who serves as CEO, CFO and Chairman of the Board, and his three sons, Josh and Jeremy Warren and Marques Freije. With decades of combined experience running other prosperous companies, this dynamic leadership team has created success for its staff and clients by focusing on marketing, sales, advertising, estimating and organizational skills.
With nearly 3,500 jobs completed and approximately $15 million in sales since the company’s formation in 2016, WarrenCo is obviously doing something right. Josh, the company’s President and COO, attributes these achievements to doing business “a better way” through a combination of industry expertise, business savvy—and a close-knit family atmosphere.
Explosive Success Starts with Family Focus
After spending 35 years in executive management, where he spearheaded the growth of some of the nation’s largest corporations, Dean traded in his suit and tie for a hard hat and began work as a commercial estimator in the asphalt industry in 2001. After 15 years of gaining significant experience and knowledge, Dean—with a gentle nudge from his oldest son, Josh—launched WarrenCo.
“WarrenCo has experienced explosive success,” Josh says. “In our inaugural year we finished with $3.5 million in sales, and in 2017 we reached $5.2 million in sales. We are currently tracking toward $6 million in sales for 2018.”
Dean’s sons each play an integral role in running the business. Josh calls himself “the ideas guy” because he primarily handles business development and focuses on the company’s vision for the future. Jeremy serves as Vice President of the residential division and is WarrenCo’s No. 1 residential salesman because he’s great at interacting with people and closing deals. Marques, who is Vice President of the commercial division, “works extremely well with commercial clients and knows how to get the job done,” Josh says.
Working alongside family isn’t always easy, but thanks to Dean’s supportive leadership style, this crew makes it work.
“Everybody feels comfortable with Dad in charge. We’re at ease knowing he’s at the helm of the ship. He keeps the finances and things in order, he lets us know what we can and can’t do, and he keeps all of us brothers in line,” Josh shares.
WarrenCo has 16 staff members, including executive management, estimators and office personnel—many of whom are family members or close friends.
“There are no outsiders on our team, which is all by design,” Josh says. “Who better to work with every day than with the people you trust and love?”
This family operation employs spouses, siblings, cousins and more. Jeremy’s wife, Jiachen Kong, is an accountant, and the office manager is Dean’s sister, Penny Ballou. Josh’s fiancé, Elaina Brown, divides her time between permitting responsibilities and overseeing social media marketing. A cousin, Valerie Ballou, serves as WarrenCo’s customer service coordinator. Despite not being a blood relative, scheduling coordinator Megan Brooks might as well be.
Chris Wagner, a senior construction estimator and project manager, along with Alex Jackson, Andrew Dugger and Jim Nierste make up the construction estimating/project management team. “These men are all exceptional estimators and project managers,” Josh emphasizes, adding that Chris was WarrenCo’s first full-time employee and has been a family friend for over 20 years. “I’m always excited to see which one of these guys will lead the team in sales,” says Josh.
A Business Model for Success
Dean and his sons have built their company on tried-and-true business principles. One of those principles is highlighted in Jim Collins’ book, “Good to Great,” which stresses that having people in the “right seat on the bus” and doing what they do best will foster positive results.
“My job is to have all the key people in place and trained,” Dean says. “If something were to happen to me tomorrow, this business would run exactly the same without me being present.”
At its inception, Dean and his sons wanted to model their company in a way that would ensure a thriving business. What better way to do that than to emulate best practices from some of Indiana’s largest, most successful general contracting firms?
So, they began building relationships with trade partners, businesses and operational minds that would enhance their ability to provide the best solutions for the large array of challenging and complicated projects they would encounter.
“We truly believe a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to business does not allow for innovation or cost-saving measures,” Josh says, noting his team’s estimator/project manager position is vital to spurring company growth. “We run close to 6,000 estimates per year, which is why we employ the best estimators in the business.”
As the company grows, its leaders are always looking for ways to improve their business strategy. “We want to stay at the forefront of innovation,” Josh asserts, “trying to work with technology instead of fighting it.”
With that in mind, WarrenCo is in the development stages of automating and integrating all its systems—from customer-relationship management to estimating and project management to accounting and more. “We are going to evaluate our systems and roll out new ones that allow us to stay ahead and continue to pioneer best practices in the asphalt and concrete industry,” Josh says.
A new position that WarrenCo is about to roll out—the systems administrator—will be critical to making this a smooth transition. “I think this is going to take us to a whole other level. It’ll separate us from our competition in so many ways,” he adds.
“WarrenCo has experienced explosive success. In our inaugural year we finished with $3.5 million in sales, and in 2017 we reached $5.2 million in sales. We are currently tracking toward $6 million in sales for 2018.” Josh Warren, President and COO, WarrenCo Construction & Paving, LLC
Strategic Partnerships & Memorable Projects
Developing meaningful, lasting relationships is paramount in any business. The Warrens not only understand this principle—they embrace it.
“We indirectly employ over 120 positions through our trade partners. This consists of 13 concrete crews, five asphalt crews, excavators, stripers and more,” Josh reveals. “We pride ourselves on the fact that our small startup has grown to support hundreds of Hoosier families.”
WarrenCo is always on the lookout for new trade partners that can add value to the company, which guarantees that all jobs will be performed to WarrenCo’s high standards.
When it comes to working with clients, WarrenCo aims to build confidence and trust. Dean illustrates this concept by describing the rapport Josh has cultivated with an Arby’s franchisee. Their connection began with a residential project, where Josh designed a tapered bridge as a solution for the owner’s driveway. At the time, Josh had no idea the client owned dozens of restaurants spread across the Midwest. Impressed with the team’s creativity, know-how and outstanding service, the client later asked WarrenCo to rehab 28 restaurant parking lots in the Dayton, Ohio, area. The relationship has snowballed into additional work and, for this particular client, Josh does not even use a contract—which he says is unheard of in the asphalt paving industry.
“This is exactly the type of relationship we strive for here at WarrenCo,” Dean says. “We want our customers to trust us with any type of project, and to be confident that we have the skills, manpower and coordination to get the job done properly.”
WarrenCo always enjoys doing work in its hometown of Plainfield. Here, one of the team’s favorite jobs was the IndyWest Harley-Davidson® project, which is special in part because Josh, Marques and several of the estimators all ride Harleys. The project scope involved removing a failing concrete parking lot, performing soil stabilization and repaving. The crew also built a new test-riding facility.
Partnering with local community organizations to make a positive difference is also important to the staff at WarrenCo. One example is the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF), which helps homeless military veterans return to self-sufficiency and engages at-risk veterans to prevent them from becoming homeless. For years, WarrenCo has discounted its services on HVAF projects. “HVAF runs several homes in the Indianapolis area for veterans to get back on their feet, and is an invaluable resource to the community,” Dean says.
Looking to the Future
With his company strongly positioned in the concrete and asphalt paving industry, Dean is now thinking of retiring sometime in the next few years. He’s confident that Josh and his brothers possess the personalities and skill sets needed to take the helm when this transition happens. With a solid business plan focused on controlled growth, and motivated to maintain its close-knit relationships with staff, clients and trade partners, WarrenCo is paving its own unique path into the future.