Just a Minute with Andrew Pace, Founder, Safe Building Solutions

Company address: W292 S4498 Hillside Road, Waukesha
Company Web site: www.safebuildingsolutions.com
Industry:  Residential and commercial green building materials
Education: Attended UW-Whitewater
Family: Wife, Valerie Pace, who also serves as the company’s office manager.

What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?

“Early last year, we started working with a marketing firm here in Milwaukee that helped us develop several new business concepts. While the slow construction market has kept us from fully implementing them, we’ve been able to introduce key portions into our daily operations, making us more competitive and better-equipped to handle the changing business environment.”

What’s new at your company?

“Our retail showroom now uses the Degree of Green merchandising and marketing system to help guide consumers to the materials that best suit their needs as well as their personal belief of green. Instead of getting up on a soap-box to preach the green word, we educate the customer on the many aspects of healthy, eco-friendly and sustainable materials, then let the customer make up their own mind.”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

“We have created an exciting new shopping experience for consumers wanting to live a green, healthy lifestyle. Our new store concept has already received rave reviews from individuals across the country who are interested in opening up one in their area.”

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?

“Keeping focus while the construction market fluctuates. It’s easy to get caught up in panic mode when times are tough. Once the construction market comes back to life, we don’t want to be asleep at the switch.”

What’s the hottest trend in your industry?

“Green-washing, without a doubt. This is when a company stretches the truth about how eco-friendly they or their products are, just to gain or keep market share.”

Do you have a business mantra?

“‘What good is it to save the environment, when we are still poisoning the occupants?’  It amazes me to think about the amount of money that businesses and consumers spend in their effort to improve the outdoor environment, yet many of these ‘fixes’ are harmful to us humans. To some environmentalists, this sounds selfish. But when it comes down to it, we have to look out for ourselves first.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?

“I started working in the family business (Mitchell, Pace & Associates) with my mom, dad and brother almost 20 years ago. They have all been extremely helpful and very patient with the launch of Safe Building Solutions. When I came up with the idea of a full-service green building supply store 15 years ago, I think they were the only people that didn’t think I was crazy! If they did, at least they didn’t tell me.”

What was the best advice you ever received?

“A good friend and business associate once told me that it is counter-productive to do business with people you don’t like. While you may get a few sales here and there, it just turns out to be frustrating and you wonder why you didn’t listen to your instincts. I use this rule for all aspects of business and personal life. Life is too short to waste time being frustrated over personality conflicts.”

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?

“Early in my career, I took a trip to Baltimore to sell a contractor on a new line of epoxy patching materials. I arrived at the jobsite in my brand new suit, ready to mix up some product and allow the client to give it a try. While I mixed the material, a huge gust of wind spattered some of that epoxy all over my pants.  I excused myself to run to the restroom and wash the material out of the fabric. After 15 minutes of scrubbing, it was hopeless. My pants were ruined and so was my chance to sell this customer. I walked back to the jobsite wearing my wet, epoxy-coated paints, and the contractor said, ‘If that stuff can work just as fast on this concrete as it does on your pants, you’ve got a deal!’ It turned out to be a great trip.”

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