Curtis began to ease into the position of CEO in 2011 and 2012. Not too long into his tenure as the company’s head, he had an important epiphany: good leaders don’t get in the way of great employees.

“They have performed extremely well,” he says. “Ultimately the buck stops with me, but they act independently.”

Curtis’ “get out of the way” strategy is the first of three important moves he says he has made while at the helm. Another significant change he implemented was the directive to have the company measure and evaluate everything. For example, if the company’s labor budget is 65 percent, then it has to make sure its budget is just that: 65 percent. Sales, human resources — if these departments are not making sure to adhere to the various restrictions and figures they put themselves at, then it’s hard to evaluate how the company is actually doing.

Measuring statistics led to a focus on the retention of employees and clients, the third and possibly most influential change Curtis implemented.

Keeping good employees and maintaining good customers goes hand-in-hand. If a company fails to keep enough workers on staff to do the job or the workers they do have perform poorly, then the clients are eventually going to drop them. If the client is simply not worth the contract, then the company doesn’t get enough money to pay good employees.

“I believe that it’s management 101,” says Curtis of this retention strategy. “A lot of people know the play to run, but they simply don’t execute.”

One way to start out on this retention path is to not only pay more than minimum wage, but to also strive to pay more than the companies that are offering work requiring the same amount of skill.

Another way to kick start this retention strategy is to not jump at every contract that walks through the door.

“The days of paying minimum wage in the janitorial industry while also offering quality service are over,” says Curtis.

Like so many CEOs leading so many businesses, Curtis and McLemore Building Maintenance face a couple potential hurdles, like a shallow employee pool in Houston’s post-Hurricane Harvey era, thriving companies in industries that can pay more, and immigration policies that could pummel minimal-skilled labor industries.

Even with the predictable and unpredictable issues factored in, Curtis says he will certainly reach his goal of bringing McLemore Building Maintenance to $50 million a year in annual revenue by retirement — as long as the company sticks to the playbook. Then, it’ll be about leaving a legacy of which he and his family can be proud.

“My father was well thought of and built a fantastic company,” he says. “I would like others in the industry to say, ‘Curtis took what was taught to him and applied it.’”

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