When Andy Nesbitt and Jan Oostland bought Nuway Construction back in 2018, they had no idea what lay ahead. But thanks to their unshakable partnership, they’ve managed to expand and evolve their operations, double the size of their team, and branch out into new markets all within the last five years.
What has been the biggest challenge throughout your journey so far?
JAN: “I think one of the biggest challenges is having the right people in the right seat. And that includes our own positions also. What do we do as owners? How do we split the company responsibilities? But also finding the right person to match with the right position and finding a person that matches our culture, that matches our values. And I would say that after owning the business for five years, we’ve done great at that and we really feel good about the team we have today. But it was difficult to get to that point.”
ANDY: “I’d say the most challenging thing for me in the business was learning my own role, like Jan was saying, because I started as a Project Manager, went to VP of Operations, then we bought the company and I became the President. Well, it took me probably three-and-a-half, four years, to finally realize I’m not a Project Manager anymore, and I need to become the President—I need to own that role, and live in that role, and not live on the fence of President/Project Manager.”
What have you learned in the last five years?
What are you proudest of Nuway for?
J: “I think we’ve done some great projects over the years that I’m proud of and can look back at and say, ‘Look at this. This is what Nuway built.’ But I’m probably prouder of the people aspect—the group of people we have today. I enjoy taking our staff to customers, to events. That’s always good. The projects we’re doing now are very different than the ones we’ve focused on in previous years. Larger, further away, more challenging. Nuway is a different company than it was when we bought it.”
A: “I’d say I’m proud of our team also. There’s been a lot of changes over the last five years, and there was a core group of the people who have stuck with us through those changes, and that’s pretty cool. I think our leadership team at Nuway saw that we can’t just be locked into one market, whether that’s geographic or type of construction. So very early on after we bought the business, we made a strategic move to geographically get out of Elkhart County. Not all the way out, but enough so that we’re not locked into the RV market. So it’s good that our team had the foresight to see that so that we can expand and we can continue doing business even during downturns in Elkhart County.
I’m also very proud of Jan’s and my business partnership. I think it’s an unusual partnership because we like each other. He’s one of my best friends. Not only that, but we both share faith, which helps. We have the same vision and mindset, philosophy of life, philosophy of business, so that helps a lot. Even when we have disagreements, we can always end it with ‘Okay, I get where you’re coming from.'”
What motivates you as a leader?
J: “What I really enjoy is seeing people improve in their role. Sometimes you bring people on board who don’t have much experience. For example, our Marketing Coordinator. She doesn’t have a Marketing degree, but to see her really take on the role and be successful at it, it’s great. And we’ve seen that in other roles as well. People were placed in certain areas, maybe not their first choice, but they took it on and developed their skills, and really created a career for themselves. And I see it in my own life. I love design work, but I’m not an Architecture graduate. I never professionally studied design. But now I’m sitting here, doing design work, and it’s a lot of fun. And I think a lot of people are in that position, and I love seeing that.
The other thing that motivates me as a leader is being able to cultivate a diverse team. Something I’m proud of that we’ve been able to do at this company is hire a lot of women, which is rare in our industry. I believe the national average of women in construction is like 9%, whereas at Nuway, almost a third of our staff is female. The fact that we invited that goes back to the idea that if you set your mind to something, it can happen. If you focus on something, you want it, you invite it, you talk about it, then other people become attracted to it and realize it’s an environment they want to be in also. Having so many females on staff does change the perspective of the company. It creates a different dynamic that makes our company more valuable in my mind.”
A: “Yeah, as a leader, it’s about the people. It’s about helping people develop. I think when you can help somebody to develop to the next level, to be better, and then see them excited and feel good about themselves because they’ve done that, that’s very rewarding. It’s also rewarding when you see your people rally behind your goals and your vision. It’s cool to see to see how the planning and goal-making from years ago can be realized by the team when everybody’s on the same page, in an environment they want to be in, part of a culture they like.”