We at ’58 Foundations & Waterproofing are proud to share that our CEO Kevin Coppersmith had been interviewed by the Harvard Business Review. The Harvard Business Review had asked questions to gain insight into Coppersmith’s entrepreneurial journey and how he came to be the CEO to revitalize and transform our company, ’58 Foundations & Waterproofing, into what it is today!
Below, you’ll see the content of the Harvard Business Review article as it had been shared.
CEO Kevin Coppersmith Rebuilds ‘58 Foundations & Waterproofing into Leader in Home Repair Industry
Across the Northeast and South, teams of experts from ’58 Foundations & Waterproofing are waterproofing basements, repairing cracked foundations and buckling and leaning basement walls, removing mold, and encapsulating crawl spaces. The work they do each day can be vital to the longevity of a home or building and potentially save owners tens of thousands of dollars in the long run.
Yet, while ’58 Foundations & Waterproofing and its employees have earned a reputation for providing excellent service and have risen to the top of the home repair industry in ten states, the 64-year-old company was ailing only a few years ago. The key to its turnaround has been the leadership of its CEO and co-owner, Kevin Coppersmith, who has used his extensive professional experience and deep belief in teamwork to grow ’58 Foundations by 365% since 2018.
Coppersmith appears to have been destined for entrepreneurship and the unique challenges of the business world. Upon graduating from Washington and Lee University with a B.S. in Business Administration, he moved to New York City, where he worked for Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank in Investment Banking.
“I learned a lot at these companies that set me up for being an entrepreneur,” Coppersmith recalls. “However, I always had one eye looking down the road because I had a strong desire to build something from the ground up.”
In 2010, that opportunity arrived. Coppersmith teamed up to co-found SyncThink, Inc., where he helped develop revolutionary eye-tracking technology products that are now in VR headsets.
“It was definitely tough to start a company from scratch, but it was exactly the kind of challenge I thrive on,” he says. “I had definitely found my niche: entrepreneurship. Every day on the job at SyncThink gave me the adventure that I was seeking.”
Coppersmith would eventually go on to become CEO and Partner at Aptima Ventures, LLC; the Co-Founder and CEO at RESCON; and the owner of Atomic29 Capital.
“With each position, I learned more about how to motivate people to reach their true potential and how to course-correct when a business gets off track,” he says. “I also made a lot of valuable connections who inspired me to constantly look at myself to make sure that I am always doing the best that I can for my company and my team.”
Coppersmith says he was intrigued by ‘58 Foundations & Waterproofing, which he could see had tremendous potential for growth. “It was really the confluence of three factors: the reality that people will always need repairs for their homes, a company that was already well-established with a storied history, and a business filled with fantastic people who just needed some leadership. My partners (President Todd Prosan and CMO Richard Fencil) and I could see that with the right approach, we could turn ‘58 Foundations into a leader in the home repair space.”
Key to his success was putting together the right team. “I cannot stress enough that it’s all about people, people, people,” Coppersmith says. “We knew how we were going to rebuild ‘58 Foundations & Waterproofing, but we had to first get the right people into the right seats and then get out of their way. We empowered them to make decisions and supported them as needed. You won’t find us micromanaging at ‘58 Foundations.”
Once the team was assembled, Coppersmith sat down with them and communicated his vision. “People have to know what they are working for and what the goal is,” he says. “We weren’t there yet, but they needed to know where we were going. I had to constantly communicate the ‘why’ so that everyone would remain pointed in the right direction.”
Coppersmith states that he was determined ‘58 Foundations & Waterproofing would offer more than just a job for an employee. “Very few people want to have a ‘job’ – instead, they want actual careers,” he believes. “We have prioritized cultivating a sense of pride in what we do, and we have stayed on top of the industry by offering consistent, purposeful training and development. This has been instrumental in earning—and keeping—employee and customer satisfaction.”
Risk taking, Coppersmith says, will always be a part of entrepreneurship, including at ‘58 Foundations & Waterproofing. “It is part of the fun of owning a business—stepping out into the unknown to see what will happen. However, we are never reckless. We always think through the different contingencies first and make sure we are making the best possible choice.”
To build ‘58 Foundations & Waterproofing, Coppersmith has created a culture of free thinking. “We celebrate new ideas because no one ever gets anywhere by thinking just like everyone else,” he explains. “I encourage everyone, no matter their role, to offer their perspectives because diversity of thought leads to innovation, which in turn leads to company growth.”
Coppersmith adds that since he came on board in 2019, he has striven to simplify processes at ‘58 Foundations & Waterproofing. “Customers and employees have appreciated this because by streamlining what we do and eliminating redundancies, our services have run more smoothly. It also has maximized the productivity of our team, which means less wasted time at work and more time at home with our families – we are very much a family-first culture.”
With ‘58 Foundations & Waterproofing now one of the fastest-growing companies in the home repair industry, Coppersmith offers other entrepreneurs the lessons he has learned from its successful rebuild.
“First, you can speed the process, but in the end, it will still take time,” he says. “So many entrepreneurs want to get to the top ‘now,’ but the reality is that no matter how solid their business plan might be, it won’t happen overnight.”
Setbacks and mistakes are inevitably going to come, says Coppersmith. “To a new entrepreneur, these can feel devastating, so decide now how you will react to them. Will you be knocked to the ground and stay there? Or, will you make the choice to get up, learn from what happened, and go in a better direction? You are the only one who can make that choice.”
Flexibility will be pivotal to the growth of an entrepreneur’s company. “Yes, you need to have a plan for where you are going and how you will get there,” Coppersmith acknowledges. “Don’t, however, become so focused on it that when the unexpected happens, you are unable to pivot. If your idea no longer works, trash it and move to something that does.”
Coppersmith pauses, then laughs. “My biggest piece of advice is that you never try to launch, or re-launch, a business at the beginning of a pandemic! Really, it just creates more stress for you, so if you can time it better than I did, you will enjoy the entrepreneurial journey a whole lot more.”
An Award-Winning Company Looking to the Future
Even after a few years of amazing growth, ’58 Foundations & Waterproofing is still not done with its achievements and reaching greater heights! Our company has won numerous awards in recognition of our growth, our workplace quality, and our ethical business practices. Here’s a list of awards we’ve earned just this year…
- 2022 Top Workplaces by the Knoxville News Sentinel (Winners 2021-2022)
- 2022 Top Workplaces by the Washington Post
- 2022 Top Workplaces for Employee Appreciation
- 2022 Top Workplaces for Professional Development
- BBB 2022 Torch Award for Ethics of Central & Northwest NC
- BBB North Georgia 2022 Torch Award for Ethics
- Inc. 5000
Even now, ’58 Foundations & Waterproofing is looking for more ways to further perfect our solutions and our workplaces! We believe that everyone deserves a happy home and a happy life, whether it’s keeping home foundations strong or helping our team members enjoy an enriching career! With the leadership of CEO Kevin Coppersmith, we are sure that 2023 will be yet another year of amazing achievement!