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30 Best Leaders to Watch 2024

My role…set the vision, monitor the KPIs and then step back and allow our team to execute: John Todd of Elite Remodeling

“In both my professional and personal life, I believe self-awareness, acknowledging strengths and weaknesses and effective communication are crucial to one’s success.”

John Todd is a seasoned entrepreneur with a wealth of experience spanning over five decades. As the owner of Elite Remodeling, Mr. Todd has demonstrated remarkable leadership and strategic vision, guiding the company to become an award-winning full-service remodeler known for its excellence, integrity and customer service. Under his guidance, Elite Remodeling has flourished, specializing in transforming kitchens, bathrooms, and accessibility projects for those who are aging in place.

Mr. Todd’s commitment to excellence extends beyond the business domain. He places a strong emphasis on integrity, transparency, and open communication. With a steadfast dedication to his team and a focus on continuous improvement, he ensures that Elite Remodeling remains at the forefront of the industry, delivering outstanding service to clients across Collin County and far North Dallas.

The Silicon Review contacted Mr. Todd for an interview, and here’s what he had to say.


Interview Highlights

How would you describe your journey so far? Tell us bit about your backstory to our readers.

In retrospect, about two decades ago, in my early 50s, I transitioned from working for large corporations like IBM and Sprint, as well as service in the United States Army to pursuing a business that I would own. I put a team together and we ventured into various business avenues, ultimately acquiring Elite Remodeling. Despite my lack of construction background, I relied on my business acumen to establish the foundation for what I would need to foster the company’s growth and development. Over time, we have solidified our position as a trusted brand in our target market by showcasing our showroom, our skilled workforce, our rigorous processes and our technological integration. Moreover, our steadfast dedication to philanthropy, exemplified by our support for charitable causes and aiding homeowners in distress, remains at the core of our ethics. Personally, I draw inspiration from leaders like Colin Powell, whose integrity and straightforward communication style I admired. His example guides my approach to leadership, emphasizing understanding, planning, communication and execution. Net net, my journey has been shaped by my various work experiences, notably in understanding and applying two key principles – the Five Ps and Know your numbers. The five Marketing Ps (People, Product, Positioning, Promotion, Price) ensure you stay focused on your product and its market. Knowing your numbers provides for a solid financial understanding of your business. These principles guide our strategic approach, ensuring coherent growth and long-term viability.

Q. Trust is one of the most important currencies of leadership that requires authenticity and consistency to maintain. What’s your take on this?

In our small company of around 10 to 12 employees, transparency is key to building trust. We manage around 20 contractors on a daily basis. Trust is paramount, and we foster it through openness. We have adopted a policy where any team member can raise a concern during our Monday morning meeting. This could range from process inefficiencies to material discrepancies. We address these issues promptly, ensuring transparency and accountability. For instance, in a recent Monday morning meeting we recently discussed “slippage,” a common industry challenge affecting our budget projections. Rather than brushing it aside, we took proactive steps to address it. We involved the entire team in finding solutions by distributing cost breakdowns and organizing a face-to-face meeting to discuss adjustments all accomplished by Friday of that week. This approach fosters a culture of collaboration and problem-solving.

Q. How has the evolution of your team and its key members contributed to the success and growth of Elite over the last 20 years?

Upon acquiring Elite 20 years ago, my immediate focus was on evaluating our team. Over time, we have cultivated an exceptionally strong team, with key members like our general manager, construction manager and sales manager, all whom have been with me for over 15 years each. Our success hinges on our people, whom we prioritize by investing in their training and development. Additionally, we have honed our processes, from sales to project management, ensuring efficiency and consistency.

Q. What is your take on technology?

Technology is one of the foundational pillars of our company. We leverage integrated systems to streamline our operations and enhance customer experience. From lead management to project completion, our web-based software serves as a central hub for sales, design, documentation, and communication with clients. This tool enables real-time updates, including invoicing and change requests, and facilitates seamless collaboration among team members and homeowners. Embracing technology has significantly transformed our processes, allowing for greater efficiency and responsiveness. For instance, AI-driven tools have helped refine our marketing materials and project descriptions, improving our online presence and client engagement. While the full extent of technology’s impact in the construction industry is still evolving, we remain committed to leveraging its potential to drive innovation and elevate our services.

Q. As a veteran, do you have a book, a life lesson, or thought provoking quote that had an impact on your thinking as an entrepreneur/leader? If yes, why is it so resonant to you?

In both my professional and personal life, I believe in self-awareness, acknowledging strengths and weaknesses, and surrounding myself with exceptional people. Personally, I prioritize open communication within my team and my family, fostering honesty and understanding. For instance, when my grandson was unresponsive to my texts, e.g. “ghosting me”, I addressed it directly by calling him out on it. This led to a candid conversation about his current challenges in a new work environment and what I could do to assist. 

Q. How do you see Elite Remodeling changing in the coming years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?

We have two potential avenues for future growth. Firstly, we could expand geographically by opening multiple showrooms across the northern areas of the DFW Metroplex, in areas like Tarrant County and or Rockwall County. Alternatively, we could broaden our service offerings beyond our current focus on indoor renovations to include outdoor projects like outdoor kitchens and room additions. This expansion would require acquiring new skills, technology, and understanding the associated risks. Currently, our target demographic is homeowners in their 50s who plan to stay in their home and seek to modernize rather than relocate. As I am personally nearing “retirement”, my role in driving this change will be to provide the strategy and direction. As I really never plan to leave the business, I will gradually transition oversight to my key leaders. This will happen over the next few years. Ultimately, I envision the business continuing under their leadership of the team, possibly involving their future generations.

Q. What is your message to the budding entrepreneurs who want to achieve big?

Very simple…know your Ps and your Numbers. It’s crucial to manage the five marketing Ps regardless of your business’s size or objectives. They will allow you to stay focused on your customer. Additionally, knowing your key financial metrics, whether $s or units, is essential for effective business management and growth.

Q. What is you final message to The Silicon Review Readers, your current and future customers and partners?

It’s important to have clarity about your strengths and weaknesses when charting your course, whether as a leader or a follower. Regardless of your role, being open, honest, and maintaining clear communication is paramount. Bill McGowan, the founder of MCI, emphasized the importance of communication at all levels within an organization. Additionally, understanding and monitoring key metrics, or “the Ps and knowing your numbers,” is crucial for effective decision-making and performance evaluation across all aspects of business operations.

“I would say my mentor has been Colin Powell and his quest for demonstrating leadership. My journey has been shaped by my family, military background, corporate experiences and most notably in understanding and applying marketing fundamentals and financial metrics. This framework has guided my everyday decisions and our strategic directions.”