The Different Ways Companies Approach Business Growth

Growth is a goal for many companies, but there is no single way to achieve it. A few business owners talk about their personal experiences growing their companies.

The Different Ways Companies Approach Business Growth

Hotshots Drain Cleaning of Petoskey, Michigan

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Dalton Coveyou has not been in business long, having founded his company Hotshots Drain Cleaning of Petoskey, Michigan, only a year ago, but in certain ways, he is already thinking like an industry veteran.

A piece of wisdom he has glommed on to: “Don’t get too big too fast.”

Coveyou is taking a measured approach to his growth strategy. That is reflected in how he goes about acquiring equipment for his operations.

“I buy tools as I go, upgrading what I have and only buying specialty tools as I need them. I don’t want to ‘buy’ myself into debt, so I pay cash if I can,” he says. “You don’t need to have the best equipment in the beginning. Your best tools are your hands.”

You don’t want your business to grow so fast that it gets away from you. Controlling the growth trajectory of your business is an important skill to learn. Another company that has this pretty well mastered is PipeFlo Contracting, a Hamilton, Ontario-based pipeline rehab company.

PipeFlo Contracting of Hamilton, Ontario
PipeFlo Contracting of Hamilton, Ontario

The company, owned by Bruce and Darlene Noble and their daughter Julia Noble, has doubled its workforce and increased its annual revenue to more than $10 million in the past 10 years. But that growth has been achieved gradually. The Nobles have focused on slowly adding services that fulfill all their customers’ pipeline repair needs while still ensuring employees are well-trained and happy so that the quality of customer service doesn’t slip. 

“We kept adding services to better serve our clients,” Julia Noble says. “Whenever we saw our customers had a need, we filled it. We grew organically by fulfilling those needs.”

Growth is always on their minds, but the Nobles make sure that they never lose control of how the company is growing.

“We tend to take a giant leap forward, then pause to assimilate and integrate the new workload as best we can before we take that next leap,” Bruce Noble says. “We’re very cautious when we expand.”

C&L Water Solutions of Littleton, Colorado, in its four-decade history has experienced both steady and rapid growth models. Founded by Larry and Chrystalla Larson as C&L Backhoe Excavating in 1979, the company started out with only a Ford rubber-tire backhoe, using a basement as an office and a garage for a warehouse. In 1985, the Larsons moved the business to a 3,000-square-foot building. And in 2000, they moved into a newly built 19,000-square-foot building, a reflection of the company’s steady growth approach over the years.

C&L Water Solutions of Littleton, Colorado
C&L Water Solutions of Littleton, Colorado

Through focusing on a niche of performing small sewer and water repairs for local municipalities, by the mid-2000s, the Larsons had built up a customer base that included 40-some municipal clients in the Denver metropolitan area. A request from a longtime customer in 2006 jump-started the company’s move toward service diversification and more pipe rehab options in the trenchless arena. The company heavily invested in new equipment, including UV-cured fiberglass pipe lining technology.

Then in 2009, C&L Water Solutions bid on a $1.4 million project, significantly higher than anything the company had taken on previously. It eventually turned into a two-year, $2.3 million contract. The large revenue boost justified the trenchless technology equipment investments and helped buy some time for the company to further grow those service offerings. After decades of steady growth, the years that followed had rapid growth. Annual revenue went from $3 million to $18 million in less than a decade.

After so much growth in a fairly short period of time, C&L Water Solutions is now practicing controlled growth once again. 

“Cost control really is the name of the next game. We’ve purchased quite a bit of equipment over the past few years, and we’re looking to control some of our finer costs,” says Chris Larson, son of Larry and Chrystalla. He now runs the company alongside brother Jason. “Moving forward, we’re going to be looking for controlled growth.

“I think the big thing for us was making sure our foundation was right. Starting with our office and making sure that we have the right people in place to manage everything and utilize the technology. Consistency is the name of the game. If you’re going to grow, have a program in place so that when the growth does happen, you’re ready for it — you’re not responding to it.”


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