Our blog series, “Inside Live Oak” offers our audience an insight into our business and all of the professionals who are integral to our success, as well as the success of our client’s projects. This week, we sat down with Joe Pattison.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the construction industry?
Growing up, my father was in real estate and my mother was a bookkeeper for a construction company. So, I had a natural predilection for the construction industry. During my summers between school, I would work in the field as a mechanic’s helper in the Atlanta area, and after college I had the opportunity to remain in the industry.
Q. What do you like best about your position on the Live Oak team?
At Live Oak, I enjoy getting to work within every aspect of the organization and business, from executive to clerical, and from construction to administrative. I view myself as a people person – and I love to work with people. Relationships drive the world, and in a large part, this industry. I work with project managers to review job costs, with accountants and project administrators on the documentation side, and with the executive group on the business analyzing and planning. I get to meet and partner with banks, insurance companies, and lenders working to ensure the resources are available to accomplish the company’s goals.
Q. Where do you see the multifamily construction industry heading over the next few years?
Before the recession, available apartment units were being reduced thru condo conversions as people were looking to be owners. Since the recession, credit availability has tightened up for homeowners and potential buyers over the past years. Interest rates are at their lowest levels, and as the Fed looks at possible rate hikes, it will also result in higher mortgage rates, making it more difficult for people to be able to afford homeownership. Because of these items, we will continue to see more people looking and needing to stay in the rental market, which means there will be a need for more multifamily units.
Q. To what do you attribute your success at Live Oak?
At Live Oak, we have a great “Team”. Live Oak’s founder, Paul Bertozzi, is a leader who has a clear vision for the company. He has worked in the industry from the ground up and my experience has been similar. I started in the field as a mechanic’s helper, and moved into project management and the accounting side of the industry before moving into operations and accounting. For us both, our experience leads to understanding all aspects of our company and how it should function within the industry. Our team not only understands what goes on in the field, but also understands the operational and financial aspects of the industry. This helps us ensure that the company can perform and succeed on every level.
Q. As controller, what are the most important reports that you produce?
In any industry, having accurate data at your fingertips allows you to make the most informed decisions possible. At Live Oak, we use a combination of monthly project cost review reports to allow our project managers to look at the various parts of every project and that allows them to timely identify weaknesses as well as areas where we are doing exceptionally well.
Being a construction company, we operate on accrual versus cash accounting. To keep accurate track of our earnings, we utilize a work-in-process (WIP) schedule. This allows us measure our Billings in Excess against Costs in Excess on every project to ensure we, as a contractor, are not “self-financing” the projects. With so many moving parts on a given long-term project, it is imperative to understand where and when funds are coming from and going to, and that the projects are able to be self-sufficient.
In addition, the balance sheet and income statement are imperative tools for understanding the overall financial condition and stability of the business, and no company should try to operate without reviewing these regularly.
Q. What are some hobbies outside of Live Oak Contracting?
I met my wife, Amy, country/western dancing at a club in Atlanta. We competed a little in the two-step, waltz, and the east and west coast swing, making it to the national level. Once our girls came along, our dancing opportunities subsided, but we still take our turn on the dance floor when we can.
Amy and I are avid sports fans, and both being University of Florida graduates, enjoy watching and cheering the Gators on every chance we get, whether it is football, basketball, baseball, or, the family favorite, softball season.
Our two daughters, Bailey and Brooklyn are very active in sports, school and church activities, and we spend most of our available free time supporting their interests. Both girls play travel fastpitch softball, and I coached at least one of their teams every season for seven years. Nowadays, we can be found at a softball field somewhere around the country almost every weekend of the year cheering on one (or both) of the girls and their teams.