It starts with a vision
CEO and founder of Cannondale Capital investors Joe Ripp has a grand vision to grow his recent investment – a small millworking company with big potential. He believes that “the reality is that to get from a $10 million company to a $50 million company, there are a lot of things you need to do. That means putting in the normal process and controls of a $40 million company. While it may seem silly to some, you’re not going to meet that mark unless you put those processes in place.”
Less than a year ago, Joe made the switch from an entertainment industry executive to a capital investor with stakes in the construction industry. Although he’s made several attempts at retiring, his affinity for business (and growing boredom with golf) recently led him and his son, Daniel Ripp, to found Cannondale Capital Investors: an investment company with a mission to strategically grow small to mid-sized businesses.
In February of 2021, the company made its first acquisition of construction company, Modular Millwork, with the vision to take it from $6 million to $40 million in annual revenue in two years.
To make that vision a reality, Joe’s strategy is to operate Modular Millwork as if it’s already a $40 million company. His first step is to implement the sophisticated processes and tools essential to successfully and efficiently running a much larger business.
One of the tools he believes is most important is Levelset — a lien rights and risk management solution. Read on to learn more about how this savvy businessman is bringing Modular Millwork to new heights with industry-leading software.
It stems from experience
Joe Ripp knows business, which is clear from his robust career. A few of his previous positions have included Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Time, Inc., Chief Financial Officer at Time Warner and AOL, and Director Emeritus at Advertising Council. The experiences he’s had have taught him how to grow a company from the inside out, and his passion for business and all that it entails — the strategizing, the back-and-forth of negotiating, making connections — is evident in the way he speaks. There’s an unmistakable spark in his eyes as he delves into the complexities of those positions and how he’s worked to triumph over the challenges they’ve presented.
His latest venture has proven to be just that — a challenge to be solved — and Joe’s growth strategy is already working. His vast experience leading the financial, marketing, and executive sides of high-production companies, coupled with Daniel’s experience in investment banking, gives them a unique perspective and incredible advantage in this particular field. Instead of playing checkers, this pair is playing chess.
It makes risky business safe
Joe discussed specific controls and processes they’ve implemented to help them reach their goal.
“We’re really looking at everything we need to do between risk mitigation and efficiency improvements. We’ve put in a new factory automation tool, and we’re putting in new financial systems and, with Levelset, part of that is risk management,” Joe says. “We’re doing all of the things that’ll enable us to grow, and get there very profitably.”
In short, to become a $40 million company you have to operate like you are a $40 million company.
To Joe, risk management is the most valuable asset Levelset offers. He found Levelset while trying to get a general contractor to pay his company what they were owed. No matter how many times he and his team called, emailed, and sent letters, they got no response from the GC. Joe knew that a $40 million company shouldn’t have to chase payments like this, so he began to research ways to more sufficiently protect Modular Millwork against risk and nonpayment.
Upon further investigation, he was sure Levelset was exactly what they needed to be proactive and catch potential risks before they happen.
“Levelset gives me insights that the contractor and the owner seem to be paying their bills, things are moving well, and no liens are filed long before I arrive on-site to build cabinets. This gives me the information that is absolutely necessary for me to assess credit risk. Prior to Levelset, I couldn’t find this type of information anywhere. So for me, this is the perfect solution,” Joe says.
Once he’d partnered with Levelset, Joe was able to send an official Notice of Intent to Lien to the general contractor. Although the general contractor wasn’t initially happy to receive this warning letter, he was impressed with the professionalism in which Joe had gone about attempting to collect payment. In fact, he was so impressed that he ended up asking Joe, “What service did you use to send this notice? This is a great service.”
From that point on, Joe knew it would be imperative to protect his lien rights by sending out preliminary notices: “If you lose your lien rights, you lose your leverage, and lien rights are what give the smaller player the leverage against the big boys to say, ‘you can’t push us around that way.’”
He was thrilled to know that Levelset could automate these notices and other lien rights paperwork for the company while keeping up with varying state laws and deadlines, and that it requires minimal manual data entry.
It works by making success inevitable
Between the streamlining of lien rights paperwork, the ability to assess credit risk of a given company or contractor, and the option to find accurate data for those involved on a job, Joe firmly believes Levelset offers what no other software or company does.
“Levelset is the collective wisdom of everyone involved in the industry. Crowd-sourced wisdom is where the Internet is going. Levelset collects information of everyone involved in the process, and that wisdom gives incredible insights that aren’t available anywhere else,” Joe says.
Joe is now confident that with the help of Levelset, he and his team will be able to reach the goal of turning a $6 million company into a $40 million company by the end of 2023 — if not sooner. When asked if he would recommend Levelset to others, he simply stated, “I can’t imagine a small contractor not using Levelset because without it, they have no way of assessing the financial risk of what they’re engaging in.”
If you’re a small contractor looking to grow and reach large revenue goals like Joe, Levelset can help! Schedule a call with our team to learn more.
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