33: Big Company Capability, Small Company Feels with Matt Sluter, New England Construction

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Matt Sluter is the CEO of New England Construction, a general contractor based in Rhode Island. With 37 years of experience, Matt has been running the company for nine years and has grown it into a mid-sized business with 53 employees and over $70 million in revenue. In this interview, Matt shares his insights on organizational leadership, growing a family business, and his experience in the construction industry.

Matt talks about his background and how he started selling in 2009 when there was nothing to sell. He shares how New England Construction has evolved from a design-build firm to a generalist, servicing a range of sectors including retail, office, corporate, multifamily, and industrial. He also discusses the challenges of controlled growth and the importance of balancing top-line and bottom-line growth. In addition, he talks about the car dealership market and how New England Construction found a niche in building car dealerships.

New England Construction is a mid-sized general contractor that operates within a two-hour radius around Rhode Island. The company has diversified its offerings, including retail and car dealerships, which have become a niche market for them. The car dealership model offers a vast array of buyer personas, and the building's structure is like a back house, with storage, maintenance, and parts, as well as a showpiece that creates a buyer experience.

Matthew Sluter, who has been running the family business for nine years, shares his personal background and experience working for two construction companies on the West Coast. He believes that having insight into the operation that can execute at a larger scale is crucial for small to mid-sized businesses. However, in bigger companies, the political side of things can be challenging, and merit-based promotions are not always the norm.

Sluter emphasizes the importance of recruiting and hiring well, creating a culture of transparent dialogue, and empathizing with employees. He believes that the quality of people that a company gets into its organization is crucial, and the first 20, 50, 80, 100 people become those that take on the responsibility of passing on the culture. Sluter is proactive in taking care of his employees, and he is aware of the challenge of compensation. He tries not to take anyone for granted and ensures that they are paid within a range that is close enough to Boston's scale, where the cost of living is high.

As Gen Xers and Millennials become more influential in the decision-making process, Matt has observed that they want to work with people they trust and that are transparent, and that they enjoy the experience with. They are much more collaborative and want to enjoy the experience. Matt believes that understanding the client's business is critical to delivering success

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