Three months ago, Alliance Construction Solutions President and CEO Clayton Schwerin decided that 2009 would be his last year at the helm of the company he has led since 1993.
A succession plan calls for management, and majority ownership, to be transferred over the course of this year to Bill Joyner, who Schwerin had appointed president in December, and Brian Weinmaster, who became executive vice president of Alliance at the same time.
When the two take control, they will be the beneficiaries of having spent the past decade or more watching one of Northern Colorado’s most talented entrepreneurs on the job. Schwerin’s skill in building Alliance during his tenure, and nurturing a corporate culture that keeps employees happy and productive, has earned him the 2008-09 Northern Colorado Business Report’s Bravo! Entrepreneur Award for Loveland.
“My philosophy is to find the best talent, the top draft choices, and then train them, teach them, and help them to become the best that they can be,” Schwerin said. “You give people opportunities, and then recognize when it’s time to get out of their way. I think tomorrow’s business is going to have to be run by people better than the people we have today, including me.”
When Joyner and Weinmaster complete the transition during this year, they will have inherited a company that is much different from the one Schwerin took over when it was known as Baldwin Construction Inc. The Alliance name came in 1995, in Schwerin’s second year, and the company’s geographic reach began to expand.
Within 10 years, a Cheyenne office opened under Weinmaster’s direction, and quickly found success with health care and school projects in a state where public budgets were swelling during the energy boom.
“Of our $120 million in annual revenue, we think $20 million to $30 million will come out of our Wyoming office,” Schwerin said at the time. The results, over the past three years, are on target.
Schwerin recognized other opportunities outside Northern Colorado, especially in the metro Denver market where hotel, apartment and other commercial projects have kept a Denver-based staff busy.
One measure of Alliance’s success comes from a collective that Schwerin calls the Peer Group, a group of seven CEOs of general contracting businesses scattered nationwide. The members meet quarterly to evaluate one another’s business status and make recommendations for changes.
At a December meeting in Loveland, as the construction industry nationwide was reeling from the collapse of capital markets, the six visiting execs found Alliance in full sail.
“They gave us some pretty high marks,” Schwerin said. “In the last five years that we had made a lot of successful changes, and it showed. I think some of them were a little envious that we’re in Colorado, where the conditions are better than in some other places, and where it’s easier to recruit good people.”
Schwerin’s colleagues in the construction business can easily describe the attributes that have led to his success at Alliance. Fort Collins builder-developer Jay Stoner, who hopes to involve Alliance in his Riverwalk project at Interstate 25 and Harmony Road, said Alliance is the product of a rare combination of attributes.
“Clayton’s got a really healthy blend of discipline and analytical business sense,” Stoner said. “But what makes him really successful is that he blends that with a lot of passion and emotion. A lot of people have one or the other. But Clayton has both, and that’s why he’s been successful.”