When I grow up: Judson

OKEECHOBEE — Being a Little Caesar’s pizza worker has been a dream for 8-year-old Judson Phillips since he was a toddler. “There was just something about that guy twirling the sign out by the highway that enthralled him,” said his mom. Judson doesn’t want to work at just any pizza place, it must be Little Caesar’s because to him, they are the best of the best.

Normally, working at a pizza restaurant is a job teenagers hold for a short time while they train for a life-long career. Obtaining a job of this type is usually as simple as walking in the door and filling out an application, although Judson will have to wait until he turns 16.

Typically, this type of job pays minimum wage and it would be difficult to make ends meet on that paycheck.

Judson Phillips

There are some people out there though who manage to turn pizza into big money by starting out as a minimum wage worker, learning the ropes, and then opening their own business. Steve Findlay is one of those men. Mr. Findlay grew up in Okeechobee but now lives near Atlanta where he owns one of the biggest roofing companies in Georgia – Findlay Roofing, and he said he owes it all to pizza and hard work.

Mr. Findlay said he never had any dreams or desire to go into the restaurant business when he was growing up. His plan was to attend college and get a degree, but his first summer out of high school, he got a call from his uncle, who informed him there was a great opportunity working for Domino’s Pizza. Mr. Findlay said his uncle told him the average unit manager was making about $35,000 a year, which he said was about $15,000 more than the average college graduate was making at that time. After thinking about it for a few days, he decided to give it a try and found that he really enjoyed it and within four months became a unit manager, the youngest store manager in the corporation. Because of his ability to turn around poor performing locations, Mr. Findlay found himself transferred from unit to unit.

Mr. Findlay believes one of his biggest strengths is his ability to recognize quality employees, and he trained them to make sure customers were always happy with the service and products they received. He said marketing is one of his strongest assets, and within weeks of taking over a store the stores often doubled their sales. Over an eight-year period with them, he set 100 record weeks.

Although Mr. Findlay loved what he was doing, he said his real dream was to own his own company, and he realized that pizza was an extremely competitive market so the chances of opening his own company and surviving were not good, therefore, he decided to start a roofing company.

He said he knew he could take his strengths in the restaurant business — marketing and customer satisfaction and use them to build a great roofing company. In his opinion, the main issue with the construction industry was contractors taking upfront money from home owners and then never coming back to do the work. He decided his company would never require any money from the customers until they were 100 percent satisfied. Most roofing companies were offering a 2-year warranty on their work. He said his thought was, “if you do the work correctly, why not give a ten-year warranty?” From day one his company offered a ten-year no leak warranty, and he is proud to say every roofing company in the area has now followed his example. His company had 23 record years in their first 25 years of business and he believes this is due to his marketing background. Findlay Roofing is currently the seventh largest residential roofer in the U.S., and he is very proud to say the company won the 2018 National Roofing Contractor of the Year award.

Mr. Findlay is a firm believer that no matter what you do in life, you should give it 100 percent every time, and his advice to Judson is to be honest, and treat others the way you would like them to treat you, and you can accomplish all your dreams.

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