Serial entrepreneur Brad Weiman knows how to start and grow a business. With many successful start-ups under his belt, the owner of Work Shop Colorado talks about his first job at age 16, how he found his passion, and what it means to create a community.
Tell us about your beginnings as a business owner.
“When I was 16, I was supposed to raise money for baseball; I couldn’t raise it so I decided to earn it. A neighbor asked if I could wash her windows, so a friend and I got ladders, squeegees and dish soap, and that was the start of it. My buddies and I rollerbladed through neighborhoods passing out flyers, and it just snowballed.
One of my clients asked if I could paint their house, and even though I didn’t know anything about painting, I said yes, learned how to paint houses, and started a painting company. I kept it going through college and would fly from school back to Colorado to keep the money coming in. I had 15 buddies working for me, and it was crazy—it just kept growing. Clients started asking us if we could do exterior repairs, and I said ‘yes’ to everything. Soon we were marketing handyman services, landscaping, deck and fence repair, whatever clients wanted. I discovered I loved the construction part of what we were doing.”
What happened next?
“I graduated from college with a marketing and business management degree; I had an interest in the financial world but quickly realized sitting in an office wearing a suit and tie wasn’t for me. I wanted to go back to construction.
I returned to Colorado where a friend bought a house to flip and I helped him pick out countertops. Concrete countertops were getting popular, so I tried making them in my basement. I landed a contract to manufacture them for a year, and set out to pioneer new methods of making concrete countertops and sold precast concrete finishes. We even got to show what we were doing on the DIY Network and HGTV. We built cabinets and vanity tops that would support the heavy concrete, and I learned that going to a shop was not for me—even though I loved the creative part of it, I didn’t want to be in production.”
How did Work Shop Colorado come about?
“I focused on construction, bought a house, flipped it and it went well. I flipped a few more, and an investor asked me to be the general contractor on a new project. I love to watch how homes are put together— how concrete, wood and steel are used and the effect the materials have on creating a structure.
We discovered some design-flow issues in that first home; I was able to redesign it—and realized ‘I think I could design a home.’ In 2010, you didn’t have to be an architect to design a home, but the market was down and it was tough to get a bank loan. I did, and we were able to build a home from beginning to end. Homes weren’t selling and I was anxious…I had risked everything. We listed it before it was complete and got offers over asking. We sold it, and buyers who didn’t get the home wanted us to build for them. We rolled profits into the next home, and it snowballed. We were designing and building homes, then built spec homes and made more money than we did building custom. We manufactured and integrated design elements, which evolved into steel fabrication and producing railings and stairs.”
What are you doing these days?
“We look for pockets of land between two and15 acres and create communities. We’ve built more than 200 homes; our team of over 85 employees is driven by the passion to design and build high-end homes at a reasonable price. We can do that because we manufacture all of the elements, like custom wine racks and built-ins, railings, and cabinetry.”
How have the pandemic and the market changed your business?
“The pandemic brought uncertainty about how to handle mandates and shutdowns, and how to keep jobsites safe. We were hit hardest with inflation and a nearly 400% increase in the cost of lumber. Now we’re facing massive supply chain issues and a shortage in the labor force. We’re still going strong, and that is because of our team. We would be nowhere today without our amazing staff.”
What’s the best part of your job?
“I’m most proud to see the number of lives we’ve positively affected: employees, clients, subcontractors – we’ve helped grow other businesses while they help us grow ours.
What’s your favorite project?
“My favorite development is where I live, on a few acres west of Denver; it was work to negotiate a price, to finance, and to build the infrastructure, but it was worth it. We built our home and found a friend to build next to us, ultimately creating a community and replacing what we thought we were losing by leaving the city. If a house doesn’t have a community, it’s hard to call it ‘home.’”