Leslie King, CGR, CAPS, GMB
President of Greymark Construction Co., Houston
Year Company Was Founded: 1995
Number of Team Members: 5
Industry involvement: Remodelers Advantage Inc.; secretary of the Greater Houston Builders Association (on the ladder to be president in 2014); executive board member of HomeAid Houston, which builds and remodels housing for the homeless
What would be your ideal project to complete?
A creative design that brings value to the home and solves all the problems the homeowner has with the home.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
When I was in high school I was fortunate enough to live overseas, and my family had a maid, driver and gardener. I told my dad I would like to have this lifestyle when I am on my own. He said, “No problem, all you have to do is work for it and you can have anything you want.” He did not say get married and someone else can do this for you.
The other advice I received was to read the newspaper’s sports section every day. It always gives me a safe topic to discuss with my clients, especially men. Most everyone is interested in some type of sport. That does not mean I am interested in these sports, but most guys are impressed I actually keep up.
When and why did you join Remodelers Advantage?
I joined in January 2008. I had split with my partner in the business in 2006 and knew I needed a board of directors to help with my success. I could not do it alone. I wanted to also reduce the mistakes I was going to make by learning from others.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve taken away from your peers at Remodelers Advantage?
Listen to your peers. When you are in the middle of a situation it is difficult to see the answer or you do not want to accept what really needs to be done. Most of the time peers are spot-on with their suggestions. That does not mean I agree immediately but I know if I do what they suggest I will be successful. They are a great group of people who really care about my success, and I care about theirs.
If you could change one thing about the remodeling industry, what would it be?
I’m from Texas, and we do things a little differently. I really wish we had licensing or registration of contractors in Texas, so we could reduce the “chucks in a truck.” Anyone can be a contractor here just by hanging out his shingle.
What does your gut tell you about when our current economic situation will improve?
In Houston things are great with the oil business, but the times have changed and we have to work harder to get ahead. In other places my gut says we will have at least another three to four tough years because of our country’s current debt situation and what is going on in the rest of the world.
As you were growing up, what did you want to be?
My own boss. I knew from a very early age I was not cut out to work for other people. I got that from my dad.
What is your most treasured possession?
My cabin in New Mexico. It is at 8,000 feet in the heart of the Santa Fe National Forest. There is no TV, Internet or cell phone reception, and the landline works sporadically. I go there for peace and solitude.
What motivates you every day?
My family and my desire to succeed. My family is the most important thing to me—watching my kids become successful and take flight on their own paths. Also, when the partnership broke up I was not sure if I was going to keep the business, but I did. It was an expensive break up and almost took me down financially. I never want to go back in that direction!
If a movie was made about your life, who would be cast as you?
Marlee Matlin. I am hearing impaired—not deaf yet—and she is an inspiration to me as someone who has overcome adversity with her hearing loss. I have been wearing hearing aids since I was young and when I was little my parents were told that my sister and I would most likely never go to college or be on our own because of our hearing loss which gets worse as we age. I graduated from college (we won't discuss my GPA), way before the ADA was in place, and have been independent since then without financial help. It was great to prove the doctors wrong.