Trini Garibay, CEO and co-founder of Elite Construction + Development, believes the company can live up to its name by embracing technology, forward thinking, and executing with purpose.
By Sylvia Carroll
J. Trinidad (Trini) Garibay and his co-founder, David Magaña, were inspired to create Elite Construction + Development with a view to representing a new generation of contractors in the construction industry—a generation raised on technology, data, and analytics. The company was founded in January 2008, right at the beginning of the Great Recession, which meant that resilience would become a byword for the company culture at Elite. “We have faced a lot of adversity over the past 14 years, and because of sacrifice, loyalty, hard work and belief in ourselves we are the best version of us today”, Garibay said.
“When we first started the company there was an important transition happening, a generation of contractors ready to go into retirement, so it was a great opportunity to enter an industry where we felt we could make a positive contribution to,” Garibay told CEO Magazine North America in an exclusive interview. “We bridged the gap between doing things on paper and utilizing technological advancements, while still maintaining a strong work ethic and our “Work Hard + Stay Humble” way of being.”
Based in Pasco, Washington, and operating throughout the Pacific Northwest, Elite Construction + Development is a full-service general contractor with fourteen years’ experience working with clients to envision and deliver on their building and infrastructure goals. Elite offers comprehensive construction support and services that enable its communities to flourish and its team members to innovate and thrive. “Our team is composed of talented and quality people and I’m excited to keep surrounding ourselves with that kind of team member,” Garibay reinforced.
The Three Why’s
Elite Construction’s diversified portfolio includes public, federal and commercial projects. Furthermore, with a growing presence in the federal procurement sector, as well as ambitions to expand globally, Garibay has a clear vision of where he wants the company to be in the next three-to-five years based on what he calls the three ‘why’s.’
“The three ‘why’s’ are as follows: We want to make the world cleaner, safer and a better place to live for ourselves and our families; create opportunities, inspire and lift the underserved, and ultimately, create lasting legacies. We do everything with purpose, whether that’s embracing technology to operate more efficiently or partnering with organizations that have dominated at the highest level to learn valuable lessons, it all has meaning.”
“We will have a global presence,” he said. “We continue to diversify. We want to increase our footprint, not only on the private side but also the federal side of things. On the government side, we are assisting with environmental cleanup efforts, improving public infrastructure, and discovering ways to be part of integrated energy solutions. On the private side we continue to build, shape, and develop the communities we live in.
Processes and Culture
Much is spoken about today regarding a company’s business processes versus culture, but Garibay believes that to achieve true success one cannot exist without the other. For example, he sees adopting new technologies as essential to putting effective systems in place to be able to scale and operate effectively. Yet that would mean little without the culture he has fostered at Elite, a relatively small player in its space, which deliberately cultivates a family atmosphere.
“We’ll continue to embrace technology and those tools will allow us to keep pushing ourselves forward,” Garibay described. “Yet we have more of a family atmosphere than a corporate one. We likely don’t want to be bigger than a 500 person organization because we want to value people for who they are and make sure we’re catering to the whole person. As successful as we want to be, we’re going to put the human being first. I feel like success is best achieved when it’s earned and shared.”
Working Through The Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic most obviously impacted the construction industry in terms of supply chain disruption with a shortage of materials and labor, as well as unpredictable pricing and talent scarcity, requiring Elite to tap into the spirit of resiliency the company prides itself upon. For Garibay, this means being proactive in the face of such challenges.
“A situation like Covid exposes your weaknesses and makes you focus on correcting those weaknesses, otherwise you’ll just be another statistic,” he remarked. “It forced us to work on creating the best version of our organization and to reevaluate what’s important. This period has made us appreciate and be grateful for all the things we have going for us.”
“In terms of the supply chain disruption, it requires a lot of proactive, forward planning,” he elaborated. “We’re in this for creating win-win scenarios, so we had to make sure we were engaged with our suppliers well ahead of time especially with price escalations happening weekly, sometimes daily.
There are a lot of challenges we’re dealing with that are out of our control, but what we can control is the level of effort and how forward thinking we want to be. “What sets us apart from similar sized companies is our desire to make an impact and be a better version of ourselves. We’re hungry to make a difference. When you’re hungry and you align it with purpose, some powerful things can happen. We’re a value based company and we want to add to people’s lives.”
Vision Becoming Reality
Garibay insists that the difference between vision and reality in business is knowing exactly where you want to go, executing with purpose, creating win-win solutions for your partners and end users, and ultimately, building lasting legacies that will be valued even after you are gone.
“In this space we’re playing an infinite game as opposed to a finite game,” he insisted as he quotes one of his favorite authors and inspirational speakers, Simon Sinek. “There’s no such thing as winning or losing, you’re either ahead or you’re behind, and you can’t beat somebody who never quits. It aligns with our goal of creating lasting legacies. Our projects could be here for 200 or 300 years.”
“We purposefully called ourselves Elite for a reason,” he concluded. “We wanted to put a target on our back and be held accountable for our work. We aspire to be elite with every decision we make, in the way we behave, and in the way we execute. That’s the aim we have every day when we come to work.”