After years of working in their family’s various construction companies, it was time for Charlotte Smarr and her daughters, Riley Smarr and Morgan Smarr...
Executive vice president, Coil Construction Inc.
Years lived in Columbia:
Tell us about your job:
Coil Construction is a commercial general contractor and construction management firm that has been serving the central Missouri area for more than 40 years. We specialize in working with growing businesses and organizations from the beginning of their construction projects, maximizing value and experience for our clients. I spend most of my day managing specific projects in various stages of our process (design, bidding, construction, etc.), but I also oversee the daily operations of our company as well, performing such duties as management of field personnel, estimating support, and directing our facilities management division.
Who is a mentor in your life?
I have had many great teachers, friends, and advisors in my life, but no one has had a bigger impact on who I am today as my father. Randy Coil is not only a role model for me in my personal life, but a mentor for me in my professional life as well. One of the reasons I decided to work for Coil Construction was because of the respect I have for Mr. Coil as a businessman and leader. Through his tutelage, he has empowered me to become a leader of my own and given me the best opportunity to make a difference in the community.
What are some misconceptions about your job?
I feel one of the misconceptions about the construction worker is that we are reckless or irresponsible when it comes to taking care of the environment. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Every construction worker I know loves being outdoors; that is partially why they chose the line of work they’re in. Most all of them hunt, fish, farm, coach their kids’ sports, or do some other outdoor activity that gives them an appreciation for the environment.
What is the single best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is handing over the keys of a building to the owner at the end of the project. The experience of joy and excitement our clients feel when they finally get to move in to their facility is contagious. Chances are that this is the moment they have been planning and waiting for for years. To our clients, it is more than just a building; it is their vision and their livelihood, and there is a great deal of satisfaction for us to play a part in materializing their dream.
What was the last professional goal you accomplished?
Hiring and training a new facility manager. Our facility management division is the customer service part of our business — we assist our clients in taking care of their buildings with dedicated maintenance personnel, mobile technology, and custom-designed preventative maintenance programs that fit within a building’s operating budget. We have always offered a reactionary warranty and maintenance repair service, but we have recently formalized it within the last three years, and it’s now a profitable and growing part of our business.
What motivates you?
Honor. Having a respectable reputation, making my family proud, and living up to the Coil name is very important to me.
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
Out of college, my back-up plan was to wash dishes in a restaurant and work my way up to being a bartender if a career in construction didn’t work out for me. Now that I am a bit older, I’ve found that I love to cook, but I hate washing dishes, so I would probably try to start my own food truck.
Which accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am very proud to have worked with Welcome Home Inc. on expanding their operations so they can increase the number of homeless veterans served in our community by 100 percent and expand their services to encompass women and families of veterans. I worked with Welcome Home’s board and staff during the early planning stages of their project to help them design, budget, and fund their new facility. The facility is currently being constructed and is expected to open in early summer.
What’s your favorite community project?
Again, it has been the Welcome Home project. Welcome Home’s mission of serving the homeless veterans in our community is a noble cause. But, on top of that, this home-grown nonprofit has done one of the best jobs at pulling a community together that I have ever seen. Their new facility will be located off Business Loop 70 E.; it will be about 20,000 square feet and consist of 32 residential units, a commercial kitchen, support and administrative spaces. After spending 30 to 60 days “getting back on their feet,” residents can earn vouchers to get into permanent housing facilities such as Patriot Place, which is on the same campus.
What is the single biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
The difference between management and leadership. Management is about organizing people to cope with challenges and complexity. Leadership is about aligning people to cope with change, setting a direction and inspiring others on how to get there.
What is your favorite business book you’ve ever read and what impact did it have on you?
One of my favorite business books is called, “Traction” by Gino Wickman. I read this book right after I completed business school, and more than anything I think it was good timing for the read. I was eager to finally try out and implement some of the things I learned from business school. This book gave me a blueprint for doing so. Rather than biting off more change than my company or I could chew, this book encourages business owners to set small, attainable goals in the short term that will keep you in the right direction for your long term vision.
If you had unlimited funds, what is the one specific thing you would do to improve Columbia?
If I had unlimited funds, I would build an institute that provides affordable education and training for young and disadvantaged individuals within our community. I would like to see it collaborate with local educational institutes, government entities, and private organizations, aligning the resources of our community so that young and disadvantaged individuals have an opportunity to acquire the life skills needed to succeed and earn a living in areas where our community needs a sustainable skilled work force.
What is one goal you have for 2017 and how do you plan to achieve it?
One of our top goals for 2017 is to increase public awareness about our clients’ building projects and promote their growing organizations through the use of social media and other rebranded marketing materials developed within the last year. We have some really great clients with exciting projects that we want to make sure the community is aware of.
Just to name a few, we will be completing the following projects in 2017: an aging-in-place group home to house disabled elderly adults for Woodhaven, a 32-unit temporary and emergency shelter for homeless veterans for Welcome Home, and campground improvements for the BSA Great Rivers Council.
What trait do you most want in a coworker or employee?
Dependability. It is one of our company’s core values. If I can’t count on my employees and co-workers, then how can I expect my clients to depend on me?
If you could improve one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Public speaking. I’ve come a long way over the years, but it’s not my comfort zone and could use some more practice.
What do you do for fun?
I spend my free time with my family. We have lots of interests, hobbies, and adventures: golf, traveling, hunting, fishing, hiking, woodworking and other crafts, landscaping, watching movies, going to plays, cooking, shopping, etc. Basically, if I’m not working, I’m having fun.