Just a Minute with Leif Nesheim, President, Berghammer Construction Co.

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:40 pm

Company address: 4750 N. 132nd St., Butler, WI  53007

Company Web site: 


Industry: Construction

Number of employees: 100

Company’s annual revenues:

$60 Million

Education: B.S. civil engineering, the University of Wisconsin in Madison

Family: Wife, Patty (married 31 years); and children, Andrew, 25, and

Cassandra, 19.

What was the smartest thing your company did in the past yearω

“Articulating a vision of the potential Berghammer could achieve, and setting out to accomplish it. When I bought the Berghammer business in 1988, good and trustworthy people were a key to getting us off the ground. Eighteen years later, you need great people to sustain and move your organization forward. You can teach, coach and mentor people from good to great, but when you can’t, you need to make tough personnel decisions.”

What’s new at your companyω

“I organized six outside advisors from different business backgrounds and market sectors that I seek advice and professional input from on a regular basis. Everyone brings something different to the table. In October, I brought them all together for a defacto advisory board meeting. The interaction of this group resulted in collective advice that helped me to see the forest through the trees. I will continue to meet individually with my advisors throughout the year, and I plan to bring them all together again in 2007.”

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

“We are now reinvesting in the fourth quarter so we can hit the ground running in 2007. Our investments include: marketing material tweaking, customer relationship management software, new telephone system, new field office trailers and accounting software upgrade, among other things.  We have hired a civil engineer for our project management staff who is graduating from Madison in December and will start with us in January.  We have two or three more management positions to add in 2007.”

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

“Sustainability is my corporate goal.  As an organization, we are taking many positive steps by putting systems and procedures in place to accomplish sustainability. Although we have many repeat clients, growth comes from adding new clients. I don’t want to lose sight of existing clients, and much of our training and professional development centers around creating and improving the client construction experience.” 

What’s the hottest trend in your industryω

“Visual imaging estimating software. For four years, we have been at the leading edge using a two-dimensional visual format. Now they have introduced a three-dimensional program. Technology is an area we need to keep abreast of.”

Do you have a business mantraω

“I do have a business mantra, and it’s ‘continuous improvement.’  This is not necessarily a growth statement, but the need to learn from the past to stay on top of our efforts for the future.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up toω

“I have read Jim Collins’ book, ‘Good To Great,’ as well as books by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan on management and leadership. Everything boils down to putting the right people in positions to succeed. There are firms here in Milwaukee that we do business with, that have got this right.”

What was the best advice you ever receivedω

“Hire winners! Treat people fair. Golden Rule stuff . . . treat others as you would have them treat you.”

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

“We have an annual Halloween party. Three years ago, I dressed as the church lady and attended two business meetings outside the office. I tried to stay in character for a portion of the meeting. Sometimes you need to have fun. I know we could do more of that.”

What do you like to do in your free timeω

“Golf, anywhere, anytime. I am planning a golf trip to Ireland with 12 friends. I am also a NASCAR fan, and I try to get to three or four races a year. I have many scale model cars decorating the shelves in my office. People wouldn’t guess that this is something I have an interest in.”

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