Equipment World

August 2013

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Page 38 of 73

contractor of the year finalist | by Tom Jackson | Building the dream team from the ground up Ken and Melissa Lester Port Lavaca, Texas Lester Contracting Year started: 1959 Number of employees: 60 Annual volume: $11 to $13 million Markets served: Civil construction L ike many who work in construction today Ken Lester got his start as a teenager working for his father. His father was wise enough to start him as a laborer and let him develop a broad range of skills. He did everything from handling a shovel to welding on the equipment to operating it. After he'd proven himself in the day-to-day operations Ken graduated to supervisory jobs and joined the company full time in 1979. Today, with 33 years of experience under his belt, Ken runs the company, along with his wife Melissa. When his dad retired in 1998, Ken took the reins full time. He knew that to grow the company beyond what his father had achieved he would have to learn more about business. So in his off hours he started taking business courses at a local college. "Prior to that I was a construction hand," says Ken. "In my college courses I learned the business end: how to read financial statements, accounting, how to write professional letters, how to build spreadsheets." Melissa also stepped into a role as " We've been quite successful just by answering the phone – and not answering it from the cab of a tractor. " controller with the company in 2002 and put her 19 years of banking experience to work managing the office. "She pays a lot of attention to the details," Ken says. She oversees the daily office operations and her banking experience has helped the company run efficiently. The company does all its payroll, taxes and HR in house, which Melissa oversees. "Our CPA comes once a year and does our books, but that's it," says Melissa. The company uses a program with an equipment module on it to remind them of maintenance schedules. A payroll person and accounts payable person handle the paper flow in the office. Melissa also instituted a direct deposit payroll system for all employees. "Before that we'd have | August 2013 39

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