Incorporating Family-Oriented Team Values
CEO & Founder
Coffee Lunch Coffee
The B.R. Companies
Juan Banos, CEO of The B.R. Companies, believes in creating a close-knit, supportive company culture. Hear how Juan fosters trust among employees and how a positive work environment has helped his team achieve better results.
“It's unfortunate to see people that don't trust each other and they're wearing the same jersey. If you're on the B.R. team, we're wearing the same jersey, we care, we want there to be as much trust as there can be.”
Alana Muller 0:10
Welcome to Enterprise.ing, a podcast from Enterprise Bank & Trust that's empowering business leaders one conversation at a time. We'll hear from different business leaders about how they found success in cultivating their professional networks and keeping them healthy and strong. I'm your host Alana Muller, an entrepreneurial executive leader whose primary focus is to connect, inspire and empower community. We at Enterprise Bank & Trust thank you for tuning in to another episode.
Alana Muller 0:41
Hello, listeners, welcome back to another episode of Enterprise.ing podcast. I'm joined today by Juan Banos. Juan is the Chief Executive Officer of The B.R. Companies, a real estate, construction and finance company with locations throughout the United States and in Mexico. In this role, he is responsible for setting the organization's vision for the future, which includes identifying strategic growth opportunities, forming strategic partnerships and acquiring businesses. Juan Banos, welcome to Enterprise.ing podcast.
Juan Banos 1:09
Alana, thank you so much for having me, I really appreciate it and thanks for that solid intro. It's definitely...that's all to say, I'm just the voice and the face of the company. So all those fancy words don't really matter.
Alana Muller 1:22
You know, it's great to be the PR rep. I love that, I love it. In fact, what I want you to do is to tell us more about The B.R. Companies, what do you do? What does the organization do? And what was your inspiration for starting the company?
Juan Banos 1:35
Sure. So The B.R. Companies, we were born a construction company by my immigrant parents back in 1985. And through the decades, we've evolved, and we plugged in some real estate services, and some finance services. So now we do, you know, project planning, we're doing construction projects, we're doing real estate development, and some finance opportunities. So it's just kind of become this whole array of services for the world of building.
Alana Muller 2:01
That's so remarkable. Do you think that when your parents started the company, they could have imagined that you would sort of branch out into so many different directions?
Juan Banos 2:08
I think it's interesting. My father was, he was a Spanish immigrant. And he had a relatively big business in Spain. But long story short, when he came here, he wanted to always kind of keep a small business, you know, kind of risk averse. So he's not here with us anymore. But I think if he was, he'd be having a lot of screaming matches with me today. So you know, we still have to honor the legacy.
Alana Muller 2:30
It was sort of the opposite vision, right? That's what's kind of remarkable. Well, so speaking of your parents, I know, since you are the son of immigrant parents, you've remained committed to building on the legacy that they started by pursuing their own American dream. Talk about what that's meant to you both personally and professionally. And especially as you instill an entrepreneurial spirit and family orientation into the culture of The B.R. Companies.
Juan Banos 2:54
Sure. Well, you asked earlier, “what was the inspiration?” And so I didn't so much have an inspiration to start the business, as much as I'm inspired today to continue to build off of that legacy that my parents came here for, right? So they came for the American dream, and you don't see that as much anymore. And you know, they were living proof of it. And I got to see it firsthand, to watch people come from different countries. And you know, not only learn the culture and the American values, but to build a business and succeed, talk about impossible, but you know, they made it happen. So just honored to continue to build off that legacy. And that's very inspiring alone.
Alana Muller 3:33
Yeah, super remarkable. And when you and I were talking earlier, before we started recording, you, you talked a little bit about how your parents came not knowing the language, how were they able to navigate that and for your family? What would that, what did that look like in terms of sort of becoming integrated and immersed into American culture?
Juan Banos 3:55
Well, I mean, thankfully, I guess, we are in Southern California. So we're so close to the border that there is a lot of Spanish speaking people here. But yeah, look, I mean, we grew up as first generation where Spanish was my first language. So we went to preschool only speaking Spanish and we kind of learned it, you know, as we went to school, but, you know, we saw those challenges. In fact, you know, funny story, my dad took his contractor's license, not knowing how to read or write in English. But he had this photographic memory that I don't have, but he was able to connect, you know, certain words and say that the answer is C, because C belongs with this certain word. And he passed his contractor license, but, you know, with his own, not to undermine his credibility, but he was an unbelievable builder. He built in Spain, and he came and built again here in America.
Alana Muller 4:45
Remarkable. That's so great. I know that you're doing business across the country. I'd love for you to tell us a little bit about where you're doing business, where your headquarters are, and then kind of where your offices are, and, and how, as a result of sort of expanding across the country, you've been able to build relationships.
Juan Banos 5:03
Yeah. So our headquarters, our corporate offices are just outside of Los Angeles about 40 minutes east, which is a town called Glendora, California. This is where we grew up. And you know, as we've expanded, we have an office in San Diego, California, we've got one in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, St. Louis and we're looking at Kansas City. So we have a few offices here in the U.S. and a couple in Mexico. And in order to maintain those relationships, you've just kind of got to go macro, you know, you have to hire the right people and hope that they can maintain and continue to maintain and nurture those relationships for you.
Alana Muller 5:36
Well, you know, we talked earlier about culture, and I'm sure that, you know, as, as you have hired, as you have expanded your team, that it's sort of building trust with your, within your own team, and allowing them to go and formulate relationships, that that has been, you know, a key factor in being able to expand. Is there a particular way that you've been able to sort of, I don't know, oversee the building of relationships, or, you know, the way that you've been able to maintain them that's been unique or particularly interesting for you?
Juan Banos 6:07
Yeah, so I would, I guess I would answer that as we bring up family culture, you know, it's still a family-ran business, still a family-owned business. But there's this unique kind of entrepreneurial hybrid family culture that we've instilled. You know, when you start growing a business and you start adding all these processes and procedures, it's very easy to just add a lot of corporate red tape to your culture as well. And then people are afraid to talk to each other, you know? So I think that we've humanized the culture to say, you know, this is a safe zone, you can still come and be yourself and talk to each other and we care about you. We want to know about your families. And we want you to know about ours, so I think instilling family culture with people that are not your families is very important in a business because you're working with them so much.
Alana Muller 6:53
Yeah. And, you know, it strikes me and I'd be curious to get your take on this, that in the United States, there's almost a discrete line that is drawn between home life, work life and community life. It's like, "Nary the twain shall meet." We have to keep them very separate and distinct. And I think that's not always the case in other countries and the fact that your family came from Spain, that you're doing business in Mexico, I'm sure that some of that kind of European-driven family ethic has really been instilled in your own business, which I think is super special. I think that, you know, that's a nice way to show people that you don't just care about them when they're on the job, but you care about them as humans.
Juan Banos 7:38
Yeah, absolutely. And I think and maybe some of it is cultural, and some of it being maybe values you bring from the European culture or the Mexican culture. But the reality is, we're, we're kind of taught this narrative nowadays that it's like, you know, "Do everything on your own and that's how you win." And you know, you just don't need anybody's help. But I mean, fundamentally, I think it is like human nature, if you go back hundreds and hundreds of years, I mean, we were supposed to do things in tribes. That's how you succeed. That's how you win, you win together, when you're a team and you trust each other. And now it's just so unfortunate to see people that you sit at the same table with and they just don't trust each other and they're wearing the same jersey. So it's, we try to really lead with that, you know. If you're on, if you're on the BR team, we're wearing the same jersey, we care, we want there to be as much trust as there can be.
Alana Muller 8:28
I love that. I love that. I think that's a reason people stick around whether they're family or not, that you make them feel like they are. So that's really cool. Yeah, shifting gears a little bit. What's something that you're working on now that you're particularly excited about?
Juan Banos 8:42
Well, our expansion into the Midwest is kind of our big strategy for growth here. There's so much going on, particularly in Kansas City, where you're from, you know, it's one of the fastest growing cities in the country I think right now. And you've got the new airport that came in. So we're working on some really unique master developments out there, we've made some great relationships, we just hired an executive that'll kind of take that rein and, you know, foster the relationships he's built in his past to bring on new opportunities. So I mean, the Midwest really excites us. And the real estate development opportunities that we can do there are, I'd say are, probably at the front of that conversation.
Alana Muller 9:22
That's exciting. I love that. I love that it's in Kansas City, of course! That's fabulous.
Juan Banos 9:27
I’ve become a Chiefs fan. You know, I'm really a Cowboys fan, but you can't, I mean, the Chiefs have got it.
Alana Muller 9:32
The Chiefs have got it, yeah. Chiefs have got it. We're big fans here. And you know, it's interesting. There is a lot of discussion about Kansas City being a sports town, and it really has always been but to your point, there's a lot of other things going on, too. So the airport, downtown expansion, so there's a lot of neat things happening. So I'm glad you're participating. You know, one of the things, kind of flipping that around, is that we all face challenges and especially in the midst of economic turmoil, there are so many challenges that entrepreneurs face in their work. How have you been able to overcome obstacles and emerge a stronger leader?
Juan Banos 10:11
Yeah, well, I'd say stay nimble, right? So I think reactiveness, especially emotionally or with a feeling is very real, right? So, when you see or hear, or you look at the media, you may say, "Oh, my gosh," you know, "The sky is falling." You can react and get a sense of discouragement. And, you know, you've got to be able to be nimble, pivot and just have a realistic conversation. You know, look, there's always opportunity. In fact, I believe that the most opportunities are in times of challenge, you know, when COVID happened, I mean, we hired 80 people, you know?
Alana Muller 10:44
Juan Banos 10:44
We sat down at a conversation and said, "Hey, like, what can we do today to continue to grow the business?" Versus, let's be reactive, and start making operational cuts. And I mean, I think most people tend to go that way. But I think you've just got to reset yourself and be nimble.
Alana Muller 11:02
Fabulous, I think you're right. And the fact that you were about to hire 80 people during COVID is incredible, because we heard quite the opposite story from a lot of other industries, a lot of other specific businesses. So that's phenomenal. And I assume your workforce has continued to grow?
Juan Banos 11:17
It has, in fact, so I actually put out an announcement today. It's been a few weeks, but we tipped over the 200 full-time employee marker, which is just, which is really cool to see. And, you know, the family and I are really proud of that. And, you know, we were in an industry where, where people, I'd say a hundred or more of those people are, you know, actual labor, working people, journeyman, foreman, superintendents that are out there on projects, and they tend to live in a world where they don't know what they're doing in a month from now if the job is over. So because we've built this amazing process and systems and making sure our projects are scheduled correctly, we keep people employed full time. I mean, that's the goal. So yeah, it's very, it's a passion of my family and I's to make sure that happens. So we're excited about it.
Alana Muller 12:02
Congratulations. That's terrific. I'd love to hear about any mentors that you have in your life. Is there someone who has played a particularly meaningful part or had an impact on you personally, or professionally as your career has taken off?
Juan Banos 12:17
Yeah, well, I mean, there's been several, right? But there's a couple that come to mind. And my dad always, I would say, was one that, although he passed away when I was 20 years old, I was still able to kind of watch what he was doing. And I was at that point, kind of retaliating like, I don't want to be like you, you know, but just coming out of that teenage now becoming an adult. But still just kind of, you still hear those lessons.
Juan Banos 12:41
But you know, one in particular I have and he’s still a mentor, we meet once a week for breakfast if I'm in town and he's in town, but Dr. Lally, who I met in 2011, we were doing a small residential project for his house. And he is just this huge resume guy, you know? He owned hospitals, running hospitals, he was on the board of the Olympics, and just doing all these incredible things. And I'm doing this small construction project for him at his house. And he’d take the time and he talked to me at the end of the day, and you know, "How are things going?" And I remember one day, just like looking him up and being like, "Wow, this man is incredible. And he's, you know, I have access to him,” and I got the opportunity to ask him some questions. And I said, "Doc, how do you do it?" I mean, "How do you make all this money? And how do you..." And he kind of just dumbed it down and said, "Hey, if you need to make more money, just go make more money. If you need an opportunity, just go ask for it." You know? Just you need to start asking, you know? Take the risk, basically, is what he's saying. So, and, you know, he kind of forced that. "So what do you want? What do you want from the business?" I said, "Well, we'd like to start doing projects in your hospitals." And he said, "Great." And the very next day, we were doing a project in his hospital. So that really led our path into our healthcare division. Because of that, which is still today more than 50% of the business are in health care. And that man had a lot to do with it.
Alana Muller 14:00
Alright, that's an amazing story. I love, first of all, I love that you had the courage to simply ask him the question. But then he turned it back on you and said, keep asking questions. Keep asking for what you want. So that is amazing. And I also find it interesting that the relationship sort of grew organically, that this was not, you know, nobody said, "Here, ok." So formally, you're going to be the mentee, and you're going to be the mentor, and you're going to get together once a month, but you're just getting together once a month, because you like each other.
Juan Banos 14:30
Yeah, it just happened. I mean, I'm the godfather of his babies now. And I mean, it's just it's a really, it was a really cool relationship. And we have a lot of fun together. I've learned a lot, you know, maybe some things not to do as well, but definitely a lot of great things from him.
Alana Muller 14:45
Yeah, I think that's incredibly special. Do you have a peer group or any others that you meet with on a regular basis like that? Or are you involved in any community organizations where you're finding some of that peer mentorship?
Juan Banos 14:57
No, I mean, I'm kind of, we have a very strong executive team. And you know, I call them the elite of the industry. And we meet and we strategize. And we brainstorm. And sometimes I have the worst ideas and they have the best, or vice versa, we just kind of put it on the table. And it just allows us to strengthen our relationship. Because we look at it as, “This is our small army, let's go attack.” And, you know, that alone kind of helps us get in that mindset. What I've learned from a lot of these peer groups is, and I've been asked to be part of them, but you know, I need it to be relatable to what we're doing, what are we accomplishing together? So it's great to do it with a team of people we have here.
Alana Muller 15:37
Oh, that's very special, very special. Well, there's one question that I ask of every guest and I have to ask it of you. And it's, if you could go and have coffee with anybody, any one person? Who would it be and why? And I don't care if they're living, not living, fictional or nonfictional. Who would you want to go get together with and just sort of... who would that be?
Juan Banos 15:58
Only because he's fresh on my mind and he's been maybe very relevant recently. But Jordan Peterson, I don't know if you know who that is, but Jordan Peterson is this unbelievable speaker-author. And he just articulates such a great message. Like, I watched him interviewed. And when he hears this question, like he stops, and you could tell he's processing at a million miles a minute. And then the message that comes out in articulation is like, how did you even come up with this? And he just, he's pretty incredible. So I mean, just because it's fresh, I'd say I'd say him, but I don't really tend to glorify anybody that's, you know, human, I guess.
Alana Muller 16:37
Okay, got it. That's great. That's great. Well, it has been such a delight to have you on Enterprise.ing podcast, Juan Banos, where can our listeners go to learn more about you and about The B.R. Companies?
Juan Banos 16:48
Sure, yeah. Well, thank you for having me. And you know, you're an extension of Enterprise Bank, which has been an unbelievable partner for us. And a special shout out to Brian Arguello who was the reason why we started doing business with Enterprise and it's so important to have a banking relationship. But yes, you can find us on our website BRco.com. And, you know, we're on all the great social media platforms and LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, but if you're looking for us, you can find us.
Alana Muller 17:15
Well, great to know you. Thanks for being on.
Juan Banos 17:18
Thanks so much.
Alana Muller 17:20
Thanks for joining us this week on Enterprise.ing. Be sure to visit our website, enterprisebank.com/podcast to subscribe so you'll never miss an episode. If you found value in today's program, please consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or telling a friend about us. Enterprise.ing, powering business leaders, one conversation at a time.
Alana Muller 17:45
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