President, Randal G. Winter Construction, Inc.
Voted as Santa Clarita’s Best General Contractor by The Signal’s readers in six of the last eight years, Randy Winter is now working to expand the reach of the area’s most prominent construction companies — including a new satellite office in Ventura County.
Let’s go back to the beginning: What factors played into your decision to get into construction?
So, immediately out of college, I sold business equipment, commodities, new cars and then I got into a spa company out of Carson called Sequoia Spas and Hot Tubs when hot tubs were a fad. … The guy that hired me put me under him as his assistant and in charge of dispersing the leads to the salesmen.
I would actually set up the salesmen to go see the various potential clients. I started keeping track of these 14 guys and determined, after a month, their closing ratios. Then I went to the vice president and said, ‘If we kept these seven guys and got rid of these seven, I bet our sales would go up.’ He looked at my numbers and said, ‘Let’s try it!’ And we sold so many spas that the president called me – I don’t even think I’d met the president at the time. He asked me and my wife, at the time, my girlfriend, to dinner and then asked me, ‘You did such a great job in sales, I was wondering if you could step into our construction department, because you’ve actually created a problem: We’re slammed to the wall.’ I said, ‘That’d be an honor, thank you, sir.’ There was my entry into construction.
And, now, nearly four decades later, Randal G. Winter Construction is a mainstay in one of Los Angeles County’s few remaining areas for growth. Has Santa Clarita’s evolution been a surprise to you, or did you anticipate such growth?
I would be lying if I said I expected it. I wish I had been that keen.
From the outside looking in, I get the feeling that contractors are under increasing pressure to start and finish jobs. How do you maintain and ensure the quality of construction in the face of such demands?
We plan. We do a lot of planning. We use Microsoft Project for scheduling. We have big boards in our office. We schedule our jobs out in advance. We have a strategy. We’re tactical. We assign people to jobs, we know where our people are going to be. … Some people want a discount, some people won’t go with me because they know they’ll get the top end and they don’t need it and some people think they can get the same thing (from another contractor). When you go to the Chevy dealer in Lancaster or you go to the one here in Valencia, it’s the same vehicle. There’s no difference. They come from the same plant. But when you call a contractor, everybody’s different.
What is your vision for the company’s future?
In one of my classes on strategy, they wanted us to design our goals and said … ‘Come up with a goal that’s so far out there that you don’t even know if you can reach it.’ So, I would love to be franchised nationwide and training construction people. And, I wrote a paper on it. That would be my ultimate goal. To do that, you have to duplicate yourself and document everything you do. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’m usually kind of a pioneer at what I do; I do things before they’re needed. We hired our project engineer in advance. We’re going to hire an electrician trainee and a tile trainee before we need them. Then, we’ll have them when we need them when things get busier. Going to Ventura/Oxnard, we’re going to see what kind of issues are presented with the corporate headquarters in Valencia and how we handle those issues so that we can then duplicate ourselves in Orange County. And duplicate ourselves in San Diego. And duplicate ourselves in San Francisco. That’s my big, audacious goal.