Interview with Steve Castellano (ANS Construction)

January 25, 2021
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Today Ete sits down with Steve Castellano of ANS Construction.

About Steve

  • Owner of ANS for 34 years
  • Born and raised in South Philly
  • Married to Cheryl for 24 years
  • Father of 2
  • Serial Entrepreneur
  • Member of the LDS church

What helped him get to where he is today

  • Accepting jobs he didn’t even know how to do...yet. (6:34)
  • Partnering with people who could do the job. (7:23)
  • Passion for building business. The drive to “conquer the world.” (10:07)
  • Focusing on small jobs. (10:20)
  • Loving the chance to work on new problems every day. (12:40)
  • Building trust in customers. “Most of my customers ask for the price after I'm done the job.” (15:20)
  • Believing in himself: “I always knew that I was willing to go out and work for it...I wasn't worried about it.” (17:27)
  • Knowing the legacy he wants to leave behind: “He did what he said he was gonna do and most of the time he gave you more than he promised you.” (44:16)
  • Thriving on stress: “I love the stress. If you ask my wife, she'll tell you, I'm not happy if I don't have it. I thrive off it, it keeps you sharp.” (46:39)
  • Faith: “Have God in your life. Yeah. Rely on God. Rely on Christ.” (53:13)

Memorable learning experiences (mistakes) and hard things along the way

  • Learning to bid jobs: “You lost a lot. You learned a lot.” (12:05)
  • Dealing with a franchise owner who “would rather see a store close, or the store suffer than to be wrong.”(35:38)
  • The client who almost made him walk away: “I told her husband, I cannot deal with your wife anymore. She's, she's brutal.” (45:01)
  • Burnout (and the fix). (50:10)
  • Learning to reign in his ego: “Yeah, in my younger days, if I got an argument with a customer, they owed me money, you know, I thought it was cool to tell them, you know, keep the money, I don't need it. I got plenty.” (51:49)

Major Insights

  • “The bigger the job, the bigger the risk, the smaller jobs, the smaller the risk.” (10:07)
  • Forget references. The question is, “How long have you had your phone number?” (14:29)
  • “...In today’s world...if you cheat somebody, they’re gonna know it.” (15:20)
  • Find a “small” but meaningful way to signal to customers you care about the job you’re doing. (16:20)
  • Diversify. (18:44)
  • Lose the ego: “Whoever knows the most in the room is the smartest guy in the room, and they should take the lead.” (23:10)
  • Sometimes you need to fire customers. Maybe a lot of customers. (24:22)
  • Develop a gut : ) “I use my gut a lot...I read people.” (26:30)
  • Concentrate on making happy customers even happier. (27:02)
  • Be the guy in “I got a guy.” (27:35)
  • Stop wasting time. Prepare. (28:10)
  • Success = “wanting to go to work instead of having to go to work.” (51:08)
  • Franchises: make sure you do this. (39:51)

Miscellaneous Good Stuff

  • Growing up with 50 houses on his block, knowing all his neighbors, playing on asphalt fields (:54)
  • Steve admits to lying. At least twice. (6:54)
  • Maybe the best business ever: “I got to sit at the bar and drink a couple of beers for free. And I got to make money while I was hanging out with my friends. Yeah, I got to watch the sports I got to play pool in the back. And I was making money.” (19:54)
  • This list of jobs and businesses: dealer in Atlantic City casino, selling sneakers, working in Philly City Hall, working for a contractor, doing kitchens and bathrooms for Sears, his own construction company, opened a kitchen at a bar, ran a lawn company, real estate investment, partner in a soft pretzel store franchise.

The most amazing quote I've ever heard. You can't get better than this. Keep going with it.

- Enzo Whipple

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