“You have to own it.”

I have now been a consultant with SAI Consulting for going on 27 years.  Before that, I was a commercial bank officer and lender.  Between my banking career and my consulting career, I was a licensed homebuilder and real estate broker.  There was a highly-valued (and much-appreciated) stint with Arthur Rutenberg Homes, but the majority of my time as a homebuilder coincided with my role as an in-fill residential developer.

As a developer and builder, the driving force – the focus of my energy and interest – was residential architecture;  residential architecture, broadly and generally, but, particularly and specifically, the residential architecture of my native state of Florida and of the South.

I came to realize that an energy and interest in architecture is not enough to be a full-time, long-term homebuilder or run a homebuilding business, and I am fine with it;  my avocation does not need to be my vocation (I continue to build my own houses anytime I like).

The move to SAI was the right move made at the right time;  I wanted to use my business background to make a meaningful difference in the homebuilding industry, on the velocity side of Return on Assets, on behalf of the homebuilding enterprises engaged in it.  And, after all of these years, I continue to enjoy the consulting work that I do, and I especially appreciate the fact that the vast majority of my client portfolio still consists of homebuilding companies.  I doubt that I would have enjoyed consulting in any other vertical space.

When I joined what was then known as the Service and Administrative Institute, it was very much a decision to work where I lived, not live where I work.  Cort Dondero, the then-owner and CEO of the Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida-based firm, listened to what I wanted to do.  The industry vertical in which I wanted to consult bore no resemblance to the bulk transportation and logistics, TQM-based consulting firm he owned and managed.

Cort nevertheless allowed me the freedom to choose the path I wanted, and he put me into engagements in which I could learn the tools, notably how to map and improve business processes.  I think Cort based his decision on the ides that I was willing to completely own my consulting practice – to come up with the consulting model, blend the improvement methodologies and tools, develop the deliverables, sell the client engagements, manage my clients and the work product, publish my work, achieve solvency, manage the cash flow, and forgo any draw or salary.

For my part, I was looking to start a consulting practice, not find a consulting job.

Some of the other consultants then with Service and Administrative Institute helped immensely – friends like Kent Steen, Joe Kinsey, the late Steve Hollwarth, and Bob Pues.  Hoyt Lowder, retired now from the Fails Management Institute (FMI), was a valued resource.  All of the writers and thinkers that I attributed in The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production© played a significant role in my development as a management consultant.  Clients contributed to my development, in ways they will never know.

A few years after I joined the firm, Service and Administrative Institute was sold to Trimac, a Canadian bulk transport company, and cobbled together with other Trimac interests into Trimac Logistics.  A few of us took over the general management consulting work and renamed the firm SAI Consulting, Inc.

SAI is now a much smaller, but far better developed and far more focused consulting practice than when I joined the firm.  It has a lot of resources to offer – to make available to – a consultant who would consider joining us.  Understand, however:  we are not looking for staff consultants or analysts;  we are looking for professionals that are willing to fully-own their consulting practice from the start, and eventually become principals willing to fully-own a share of SAI Consulting.