Lauren reflects on the last decade and shares her hopes for the future
On March 19, 2013, Lauren Weinbaum started Weinbaum Management Group, Inc (WMG). As a young female engineer, Lauren realized the most successful projects often emerged from diverse environments. With this in mind, she set out to create a company that not only celebrates differences, but is inclusive and thoughtful about the fact that people are as unique as the projects they build and clients they serve. Throughout the last decade, WMG has grown significantly while continuing to value diverse perspectives, experiences and backgrounds.
Now, 10 years later, WMG is a leading owner’s representation and construction management firm and a go-to resource for project leaders across the country - a feat that wouldn’t be possible without the company’s team of exceptional, experienced professionals who are dedicated to delivering a superior client experience.
In honor of WMG’s 10th anniversary, we asked Lauren to share more about how she started the business, her favorite memories and biggest hopes for the future. Watch the video to hear her reflect on the last decade and share lessons learned over the years.
1. WMG is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year. Let’s go back to the beginning. What was it like starting your own business? What inspired you to start WMG?
Starting my own company was pretty scary at first. At the time, I had a great job at Walsh Construction I really enjoyed. I found it much harder to walk away from a job I liked when deciding to start a business. There wasn’t a “Starting a Business for Dummies” book to use as a guide, so I had to quickly learn all about the operational side of things - from the different types of corporations to insurance requirements and how to obtain benefits.
While working on the Tom Bradley International Terminal Project at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), I noticed several new vendors and contractors really struggling coming into the airport’s diverse environment. This experience inspired me to start Weinbaum Management Group (WMG, Inc.), which was created to help those new contractors bridge gaps in team offerings.
2. What do you know now that you wish you’d known ten years ago?
I thought starting a business would be easier than it was, and I falsely assumed once we earned a women-owned business certification, we’d have more opportunities than we could handle. In hindsight, most of our clients have hired us for our competencies and expertise versus having a specific certification.
3. What changes have you seen in the construction industry over the years?
When I first started in construction, we had a lot of paperwork, hard copies of documents and fax machines. As a project engineer, I was judged by how quickly I could stamp and overnight submittals and how well I could understand drawings and identify issues. In this new, paperless age, companies are much more productive.
I believe the pandemic positively changed the construction industry. Construction hours are typically long and hard. Since you don’t always know the project location, commutes to and from work can be quite long. As a result of the pandemic, progressive companies are increasingly allowing employees a flexible working environment. Over the next two decades, this shift will be viewed as the most significant change to the industry because it will attract more students interested in pursuing a career in construction.
Lastly, in the past, the management and field side of the business were not viewed equally, resulting in a pay differential. Because the management side managed the profit/loss of the project, those positions were viewed as more lucrative than field roles. Recently, I’ve participated in more discussions about equal pay and equal level of positioning in field superintendent roles and project manager roles.
4. Why do you think WMG has thrived for the last 10 years?
WMG’s sole focus on pursuing and taking on work within our core competencies has allowed us to thrive. Through the years, it has been tempting when a client calls and asks about something outside of our core competencies. I have always declined those opportunities (and will continue to do so) to protect our team and our reputation for excellence.
We’ve also hired most of our team directly from certain projects that ended versus going through the traditional recruitment approach. This has allowed us to grow at a steady pace, which was extremely important when cash flow was tight for many companies during the height of the pandemic. Thankfully, we didn’t have that issue due to our managed (and planned) growth.
5. What would you be doing if you weren’t providing world-class construction management consulting services to owners, developers and builders?
If I wasn’t working at WMG, I would coach youth sports and help develop and mentor young female athletes. I might also take on a financial leadership role at a non-profit organization. I’ve learned so much from starting and running WMG, including that I really enjoy the back-end management of a business.
6. Looking back over the last 10 years, what are you most proud of?
I’m proud that WMG has thrived and grown over the last decade, and I attribute our growth to our continued commitment to our core competencies. When I started WMG, I was nervous. I didn’t know if it would work or not. It was truly the fear of the unknown, and I wasn’t sure how to grow the business. Looking back, I’m proud of all I’ve learned about managing (and growing!) a business.
7. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to entrepreneurs in your industry today?
There will be days when you ask yourself, “Why did I do this?” It’s certainly something I’ve asked myself before, but I’m mainly grateful to play a part in numerous, exciting opportunities. For anyone considering starting a business - do it. If you bring a partner into the business, make sure you both have the same appetite for risk. Otherwise, it’s difficult to maintain the partnership.
8. Share a fun, memorable moment you’ve had at WMG.
One benefit of being a small business is we’re able to throw over-the-top holiday parties. As we grow, it’s getting harder to find unique experiences for our team. One especially memorable holiday party included going to the Magic Castle in Hollywood. The evening was surreal and our team had a blast.
9. How would you describe WMG’s culture?
WMG’s culture is family-oriented and flexible. For our small business to attract the great talent on our team, we need to offer more than just competitive compensation packages and benefits. At WMG, employees are more than just a number. We want our team members to feel truly supported and strive to maintain personal connections with each person. I’m extremely mindful of our culture and how we preserve it as we grow.
10. What is your biggest hope for the next decade at WMG?
In the next decade, WMG will have broken into two new markets and our scheduling offering will be a well-known core competency. We are currently working in Seattle and Los Angeles and pursuing projects in Nevada. We have a solid reputation for aviation, but I hope to continue to grow our private developer business and extend our market reach into ports and/or railways.