Micah Loyd is the president of Loyd Contracting, located in Titusville. The firm is a second generation family-owned business that was established in 1980. Micah is taking the reins of the company his father built, which focused primarily on custom home building over the last 30 years and later diversified into commercial markets. At just 33, Micah is leading his company though an economy “my generation has never experienced,” and in the process is expanding its vision and the area it serves, while learning the nuances of managing a company that includes his father, his uncle and his brother.
SCB: What drew you to your career choice and how did you get to where you are?
ML: I grew up in the family business and learned a lot from my father about working with my hands. When I went to college, I found that the Building and Construction Management program at the University of North Florida fit my talent, experience and interests very well. When I finished college and passed my General Contractors exam, the industry was in an incredible growth cycle. For the first nine years after I joined the company we enjoyed steady growth.
My father started the company back in 1980 here in North Brevard and targeted primarily the high end, custom built home and historic home restoration market. We have expanding into neighboring counties and have diversified our construction portfolio to include medical and professional offices, retail stores, restaurants, renovations and just completed two gas station/convenience stores in the Sebastian area. I think it is our market diversity that has enabled us to continue to succeed in a very challenging and competitive market.
SCB: What drove that move towards diversification?
ML: Initially, my dad moved into the commercial side of the industry because clients were so happy with the work he did building their home. They asked him, “Why don’t you build my business office?”
SCB: When did you become the company president?
ML: My father and I structured a five-year buyout plan and this past year was the first year I was the majority owner.
SCB: Describe the process or transition.
ML: I always had the desire to own the company and voiced that to my father. He wanted to transition into retirement, so we set up this buyout agreement, which enabled me to slowly gain more interest in the company. Today, he basically holds the mortgage on the business and I cut him a check every month. It is a good deal because he can’t foreclose on me… I am his retirement (laughing).
SCB: So this is his means of drawing residual income?
ML: Actually we had to do it that way because of the downturn in the economy. What I insisted on was that he work five years in the company after my takeover. He’s a great father and I try to be a good son; we’re both committed and invested in each other’s future.
SCB: How does that work, with you as the captain and your father as, if you will, the first officer?
ML: We have different visions, but a lot of the way we do things is the same. I like to do commercial work, whereas his niche was custom homes; also I want to expand out of North Brevard and even Brevard County; I would like to move across the state. And some of that is taking place. I suppose my vision is a little broader in terms of what we can be. Dad is very comfortable with the scope and the target he has aimed at.
SCB: Not only your father, but your uncle, Jesse Loyd, works in the business. What are the pluses and minuses of that scenario?
ML: And my brother. In a typical business you can have a casual relationship with the people you work with, but if it is family you have to work through your issues to proceed ahead. You have to make it work. The most challenging part is separating work from the weekend, when you take the kids over to see grandpa or you’re just hanging out. You really don’t want to talk about work.
But the upside is you have guys like my father and my uncle who have a lot of experience. They have faced challenges and difficult places in the past, so the wealth of knowledge that they have strengthens your position and who you are. There are certain life lessons that you only get through experience and it is great, at 33, to have a team of people whose experience and expertise you can draw on.
I suppose the biggest challenge is promoting change. I can tell my Dad, “I want to do something a certain way,” but that doesn’t mean he will do it. But the advantage is that my father and my uncle are more vested in the success of the business and my success than anyone. My dad has served as a lifelong example of integrity and character. He was never in business for the money; the money was a byproduct of building, not only great structures, but great relationships and satisfying his customers. That is why people like him. He’s generous and has invested himself in this community and people know it. My uncle brought us a corporate, large company perspective and experience.
SCB: If you were asked to give a lecture on “How to Manage People Older than You,” what would be your key points?
ML: First, you can’t be afraid to be yourself. If you are totally dedicated to leading people well, those who are following will see that and will want to work with you. Secondly, you have to recognize that everyone, regardless of their age, has limitations. So you have to be able to assess people’s abilities and find ways to help them perform at their highest level. In construction, for instance, you may have a guy who has been laying block for 50 years; he doesn’t want to listen to anybody – young, old or otherwise. The challenge is getting people on your side and moving towards your goal.
SCB: So how do you promote or introduce change?
ML: The most important single ingredient that I have learned is that it is a slower process than you anticipated. If you want change, you have to present it in a certain light and slowly move towards that target. In my situation, if there is a way we have been doing things for 20 years and have made money doing it that way, I am not in a strong position to present a better way of doing it. Change will happen, but it requires patience to see it implemented successfully.
SCB: Do you think the current economy is in some ways, a catalyst for change or makes the necessity of change easier to sell?
ML: No (then laughs), it doesn’t make it easier, but it does make the necessity of it more apparent. I have to sit down with my father with the financials and explain that certain overhead strategies don’t work like they did in the past. This is a first for my generation; we have only known feasts, never famine. Now we have to face the reality of getting down to business and making it or going by the wayside. We have to do certain things differently and determine what that difference will look like.