Bill Robinson – CEO, Bridgewater Homes

Bridgewater Homes is a fast-growing semi-custom home building company providing distinctive homes in the Northern Colorado area. We are dedicated to quality, service, and craftsmanship.

As Chief Executive Officer for Bridgewater Homes, I lead company strategy and operations, bringing nearly two decades of experience in Real Estate Development and Finance.

Throughout my career, I have been a results-driven professional that seeks out new ways to help businesses work efficiently and effectively. In finance and business operations, it takes diligence and strategic planning to not only deliver quality products and services but also to create aggressive company growth and long-term financial success.

How did the concept for Bridgewater Homes come about?
From the time I graduated at Colorado State University in 1999, I had been in the real estate industry (commercial and multi-family). Then, in 2003, I started at Gehan Homes in Dallas, TX. For a little over a decade, I served as the Vice President of Finance for the company, during the fastest-growing homebuilding market in history, but also during the Great Recession in 2007-2008. So, I was able to see both sides of growth/success and decline/survival for not only a homebuilding company but also for a business, overall. During that time, Gehan Homes was named the fastest-growing homebuilding company in the U.S. in 2010, so we were able to operate decently enough during the downturn to come out of the other side on a positive note.

While we started to be very successful in 2010 for Gehan Homes, it was also the same year we found out my sister was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Growing up, it was just me and my sister, and since she was the closest with my mom, I knew that I would have to build my relationship with my mom since my sister would soon be gone…plus our father had passed in 2006, so it was just going to be me and my mom. Since I lived in Texas, I needed to find a reason to start going back to Colorado on a regular basis without it looking like I was checking in on my mom. So, in 2011, I reconnected with my friend from the late 90’s, Ben Broccoli, who was framing houses in Colorado and we decided to start building 1-2 houses at a time, for investment purposes. This would allow me to have a reason to come up to Colorado often and check in on my mom.

As we built 1-2 houses at a time and sold them to buyers, our houses became quite popular for their quality related to the prices. While we were doing these investments under the name, Brocc Builders, we continued to grow from 1-2 houses at a time to 2-3 houses at a time. Over the next few years, we became busy enough that we had to decide whether to keep this as a side business, or to make this a full time gig. With that said, I stepped away from my full-time job at Gehan Homes and we focused on building houses. In early 2015, we changed the name from Brocc Builders to Bridgewater Homes, in order for it to become a more marketable name.

What was your marketing strategy?
Really, it was getting the houses out to realtor groups so the buyers would come. It has now progressed to become more of a respected brand within the market, so we are spending a lot of time dealing with our website as well as billboards in the area.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
2015 – $0
2016 – $12 million in revenue
2017 – $30 million in revenue
2018 – Estimated to be above $50 million in revenue

How do you define success?
Business success is having a strong balance sheet and credibility with all partners (lenders, as well as trades).

Personal success is having fun and overall joy in what you do personally as well as professionally.

What is the key to success?
Find smart, creative, and hardworking people you can grow your company with, and listen to everyone. I’ve learned, from the top to the bottom of any company, everyone has good ideas on how to grow and/or how to save money. So, listening to everyone is essential for success.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Have fun at work. Yes, there will be days that are hard, but if you don’t like going to work most days, you need to find something else to do.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
One of the toughest days is when you have everything laid out, everything you know will work, but don’t have the equity/financing for it. Being on pins and needles with creditors and waiting for their response. For us, when we were trying to put over 100 lots to really get things going back in late 2015, we sold our story to a creditor, but had to wait until they decided to move forward. To our company, it was a no-brainer it would work, but if they didn’t move forward to help us finance what we were doing, we were dead in the water. That was the toughest day we’ve had since really everything relied on their decision to finance us or not.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I just enjoy the challenge of making a balance sheet grow and get stronger. It’s like a puzzle. It has so many moving parts and so many short- and long-term decisions that can alter it. Really, I have fun doing it so, while there are always ups and downs, it makes it easy for me to keep doing this day after day.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Make sure whatever you want to do, you love the concept. Don’t start a company in an industry, or some type of business, that you don’t love. Yes, there are other businesses I could have probably started that would have been quicker and easier, but I wouldn’t have loved it, nor would have enjoyed the process as much. Start by doing what you love, regardless of the industry, and you can make a ton of money. I tell people about my son’s first grade teacher. Teacher’s get a bad rap sometimes for being underpaid, which they truly are. However, she now makes over seven figures a year due to a teaching concept she turned into a national teaching strategy. So, she did what she loved, and now she is a millionaire. So, start out with what you want to do and love, and you will find ways to succeed at whatever level you want to be at.

Jason Navallo

Jason Navallo is the author of five books: American Dream, Thrive, Never Give Up, Success, and Driven to Succeed. He has an M.B.A. in Human Resource Management from Louisiana State University and lives in NYC.