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Gregory Design Build

By Heather Tang, via Pacific Business News (Honolulu). All rights reserved.
John Gregory IV is a busy, busy man. Whether it's talking to clients, negotiating with subcontractors, ordering materials or processing accounts, the 41-year-old husband and father of two is sitting alone -- on top of a budding million-dollar company.

"I'm busy every hour of the working day. But I'm home by 5:30 or 6 every night. I miss breakfast with my kids, but I'm always home by night," he says.

What sets Gregory apart -- aside from his company's growth last year -- is his need for control.

"I take care of everything. I'd like to be in control of everything," he says.

That dedication has helped him hold his own among competition and even hold his own against the big boys of general contracting.

He recently completed a bid on a high-end project normally reserved for contracting giants like Dick Pacific and Dillingham Construction Pacific.

"Getting my first big job a year and a half ago for $1.6 million helped me develop relations with architects. Now that's given me the opportunity to bid on higher-end projects. There's a very select few companies that can bid on that range of projects," he says.

Most of his contracts these days tend to be smaller than those. Getting the larger contracts, however, changed the way he did business. Now he finds himself in the market with large contracts.

The rapid growth has meant quick ascent for Gregory's one-man company.

"Getting my first big contract was my most challenging moment," he says. "I've just started working with all of my subcontractors directly. It's given me more leverage."

That has helped the company develop a reputation for good work and bring on more projects, he says.

As for hiring staff to keep up with demand, he says, for now, he'll continue to battle things out alone.

"I like to be in control all of the time. ... I'm not looking to hire anyone, but who knows? If I get another big job, I may have to hire a superintendent to be on the job site," he says.

As for his success, it came fast.

"It's been surprising," he says. "I thought I'd always get here, but I didn't know it would only take a couple of years."

All of it is far from Gregory's first love -- the farm.

"I grew up on a farm in upstate New York. I did everything from baling hay to pouring concrete," he says.

It was college that changed his mind and a degree in landscape architecture that would set him on his current path.

In 1988, Gregory found himself in Hawaii, landscaping homes for Back To Eden Landscaping. More and more, he found himself interested in the home-building process and relying on his farming background to advance him in the field.

"I got my taste for general contracting in Hawaii. I was doing landscaping design work. I always used to peer in windows of home when I was landscaping. I told myself that I wanted to do both," he remembers.

His first job came from "Baywatch Hawaii" producer Al Masini.

"My $2,000 start-up funds came from Al Masini, who gave me my first start. It was the first project I did on my own. Al put all his trust in me," Gregory says. "Afterward, I went and got my contractor's license. Since then, everything's been through word-of-mouth. I started my own company and kept it going."

Not only has Gregory kept it going, he's steadily increased revenues from $90,460 in 1997 to $162,500 in 1998 and then to $1.1 million last year.