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The Inspection Source Blog

Andy Fickett’s Business Owners Speak Out Newsletter Interview

Recently, Andy Fickett was interviewed by Rob Maniaci for the 138th Issue of the Business Owners Speak Out Newsletter!

Andy Fickett:  We ensure every structure we inspect is safe.  We take on different roles for different clients, but primarily we inspect and test existing structures such as buildings, bridges, culverts, and a wide variety of other structures for public and private clients.  We also work with clients as a third-party quality assurance entity overseeing the client’s quality control program and inspecting welding and structural bolting during the fabrication and construction processes.  The company was founded in 2001, and I took over as President in 2015.

RM:  Where do you want to take your company, long-term?

AF:  My goal is to continue to grow the business and create an environment where the employees see this as a career and not just a stop along the way.  We have four offices: two in Wisconsin, and one in both Minnesota, and Washington State. Our client work has taken us to all 50 states and Puerto Rico.   

RM:  Who is your target market? Who do you help?

AF:  On the private side, which constitutes roughly 15 percent of our business, we work with large General Contractors such as Findorff and Cullen. We provide expertise in structural steel inspection and testing services.  Contractors that focus on wood frame construction, such as multi-family housing projects typically don’t need our services. Our public clients include the US Army Corps of Engineers, multiple State DOTs, and many counties and cities. We provide third-party quality assurance services for the US Army Corps of Engineers and primarily in-service structural inspections for the State DOTs.

RM:  What problems do you solve for your customers?

AF:  The State DOTs and Federal Government hire us to be their eyes and ears.  Either they don’t have the personnel or the expertise to complete the required inspections or perform the necessary testing.  We focus on what we do best and allow them to focus on what they do best.

RM:  What’s your biggest learning from the pandemic and how has your thinking changed in your approach to business over the last 2 years?

AF:  We were fortunate.  After a brief 2-week pause of initial uncertainty, we were able to pick up where we left off with very little interruption.  We travel on a regular basis, so we were used to working from airports and hotel rooms and had all of the technology that supports that.  One challenge we did see was with our clients that weren’t set up to work remotely. This added time to the contracting and invoicing processes.

RM:  What’s one mistake you’ve made, or lesson learned that other business owners and entrepreneurs can learn from regardless of their industry? 

AF:  There were times in the past when I was too cautious.  A little risk can be a good thing for business.  You don’t always have to have the perfect plan in place when you start a new initiative, with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed.  Even if things don’t necessarily go as you envisioned, you are always learning and improving.

RM:  Is there anything you’d like to include in the form of an offer or announcement for the folks that read this newsletter?

AF:  We’re looking for good people just like everyone else. We have opportunities in Wisconsin as well as in the Pacific Northwest.

RM:  What is most inspiring to you today?

AF:  Culture!  We’ve adopted a lot of the concepts from Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The Ideal Team Player.”  It focuses around three virtues: being humble, being hungry, and being smart.  That’s not to say every member of our team has to embody all of these virtues, but in general, the more we exhibit these characteristics the better we perform and the more successful we are.