Growing revenue and growing the life you’ve dreamed of are common goals we hear from new founders and seasoned entrepreneurs alike.
For Matt Carlton, CEO of Carlton Construction, growth was great – until it was outpacing what he could handle.
In 2018, the company experienced the best revenue year in its history, having doubled revenue for two consecutive years. In theory, a $20 million year sounded like a major achievement. In reality, the company was losing money.
Matt knew the company had grown faster than he and his team could manage. He was open to new ideas and needed a partner who could provide an objective look at his challenges, along with realistic recommendations for growth. He found both at Aileron.
Setting a foundation for growth
“Details matter a lot to me and my team. We like to build nice things, and we appreciate the time and consideration that go into creating a really beautiful space,” said Matt. “When I saw campus, it was immediately clear to me the same was true about Aileron. Details matter here.”
To begin his Aileron journey, Matt embarked on the Course for Presidents®, meeting with a Business Advisor and beginning the work of understanding the “why” behind Carlton Construction. Together, Matt and his Aileron team defined what sets Carlton apart from other construction companies, uncovering company values and purpose along the way.
“Our goal is to be the Southeast’s most trusted contractor for people who want more out of their projects. The work isn’t just building nice stuff; it’s creating spaces that enrich life. Aileron helped us articulate that vision.”
Now in every meeting, Matt’s team leverages its vision and Aileron tools like process maps and energy-level discussions to stay connected to the strategy they mapped out with their Business Advisor.
Every decision and operational detail is rooted in the foundational “why” of Carlton Construction. With his team operating from a shared understanding of what matters most, Matt can focus on the big picture without worrying that meaningful details will be overlooked.
Moving forward with clarity and consciousness
Understanding the foundational parts of the business – the work they want to do, the people they want to hire, the customers they want to serve – helped Matt and his team see the path to profitability.
“For many years, even years when our revenue was $10, $12, or $15 million, we were getting by. But we started to outrun our talent, and we needed outside perspective to find our shortfalls. With Aileron’s help, we learned how to have hard conversations, not just manufactured pleasantries.”
Together with their Business Advisor, Carlton Construction took a look at where each person – including Matt – was playing into a system that ultimately wasn’t serving the company. Matt began to see the skills needed to run the business were different than they had been at its inception.
This work provided a roadmap to make staffing decisions from an objective viewpoint. Matt was able to lead tough conversations about professional development and staffing, staying grounded in the vision the team had articulated. He began to invest in Leadership Coaching for fellow Carlton leaders. Conversations and culture shifted, and the team gradually changed to better align with what the organization needed for the future.
Building a business and a community
Today, Matt sees Aileron’s influence in every aspect of his business, including customer conversations. Matt and the team lean into each conversation with the goal of understanding – and then delivering – what their customers want.
“When we meet with a potential client, we’re not trying to sell ourselves,” said Matt. “Instead, we start the conversation by asking what a successful project looks like to them. They’re usually thrown off, but we believe we do our best work when we’re collaborating with our clients on what matters most to them.”
Today, Matt still relies on support from his Business Advisor and Aileron team, and his community has grown to include other Aileron-connected business owners who offer their support and solidarity when he’s facing a challenge.
“Without Aileron’s help, I’m not sure we would still be in business today. I was at the end of my rope and couldn’t find answers on my own to make it any better. Instead, our business is thriving and supporting 27 families.”
Matt’s experience embodies the exact outcome Clay Mathile hoped for when he founded Aileron in 1996. Businesses change when their leadership has the tools and support to lead well. And, our true impact is seen not just in the work we do with company leaders, but the way their businesses create jobs and stability for families and communities across America.