Alumni to Follow is a blog series that features interviews with a variety of Darlington alumni about their careers in blogging, social media, music, art, entrepreneurship, and more and how you can follow them.
Today's post features Bau Cherry ('07, LD '20), owner of BCI Drywall and Finishes.
Tell us about BCI Drywall and Finishes:
BCI Drywall and Finishes is a commercial contracting company that focuses on metal framing, insulation, carpentry, drywall, doors and hardware, acoustical ceilings, architectural ceilings, and exterior facades. We offer a wide range of knowledge in construction materials. We help consult, design, and bring the highest quality materials and installation to achieve the vision and design the owners and architects have come to life. We are constantly furthering our education by taking training classes to ensure we are up to date on the latest codes, products, and installation standards to give our customers the highest quality of workmanship and products.
Our services have enabled us to work in many different sectors of commercial construction ranging from High End Retail, Ground Up Retail, Multi Floor Office Buildout, Ground Up Government Buildings, Schools, and Distribution Facilities.
How did you get started or come up with the idea for BCI Drywall and Finishes:
I started BCI Drywall and Finishes as a side job to make extra money on the weekends while doing my fulltime job during the week doing small repairs and demolition. It wasn’t until I came home one day from work that my wife (Kristin) interrupted me from my usual complaining rants about my boss and said “I can’t hear it anymore! If you complain this much about one person you should just quit - enough with the complaining!”. The next day I put my two weeks’ notice in and started BCi Drywall and Finishes as a fulltime job. I had little to no-savings and did not know or have any connections in the Houston construction market. I struggled to get through the front door to introduce myself to developers and business owners. Quitting my full time job was probably the best & worst business decision I have ever made.
The first year was the hardest, I took on any project I could get my hands on, from patching sheetrock holes to cleaning out dumpsters of commercial buildings. My first break was a night project, multi floor renovation at the Port of Houston Administration Building patching walls and updating the acoustical ceiling from the hours of 6:30pm to 2:30am while I still worked on my day projects from 7:30am to 3:30pm. Long hours, little sleep, always putting quality first, and the relations I made throughout those projects helped me grow to where BCi is today. Seven years later, BCi Drywall and Finishes has grown to being one of the top Framing, Drywall, Exterior Facades, and Acoustical Ceiling Companies in Houston with over $28,000,000.00 in sales and growing. Words cannot express the amount of appreciation I have for my amazing wife who has constantly pushed me to chase my dream of entrepreneurship.
What is your greatest career accomplishment:
My greatest career accomplishment came from a construction building manufacturing company called CertainTeed who gave me the opportunity to be the face of their new product line “Quick Span Framing System”. CertainTeed is one of the leading building manufacturing companies in the United States. They make a wide variety of building products from insulations to ceiling suspensions systems. CertainTeed’s Quick Span Framing System is currently the highest selling product they offer. Partnering with such an amazing company is definitely one of my greatest accomplishments.
Can you share any tips or advice for entrepreneurs in the construction industry:
Before you start any company, you need to establish a Mission, Vision, and Values that you want your company to represent and follow. I have always made it a point to put honesty, quality, and hard work into every decision I make in running my company. Never give up, look at failure and rejection as learning experiences to make yourself and your company better. The first real sales meeting I was able to set up was with a large commercial leasing company. I took the President and Vice President of construction out to lunch thinking I would sell myself and it would lead to an abundance of work- however, I couldn’t have been more wrong. About 15 minutes into the lunch the conversation took a U-turn, two older men lecturing a then twenty-three-year-old on why I should stop working for myself and go work for an already established construction company.
It was probably one of the most demoralizing meetings I have ever had. I could have given up that day but I didn’t, I took that experience and looked at the positives that came from that meeting. I finally got someone in front of me to make a sales pitch, now I just have to work harder at being able to communicate and relate to whom I am selling. Success does not just appear it comes from constantly working and striving to become a better person and using our failures as lessons to achieve our goals.
Anything else you want to know about you?
One of my favorite things to do is traveling to different locations to go fishing and hunting with friends.
Darlington’s Motto is “Wisdom more than Knowledge, Service beyond Self, and Honor above Everything.” What ways have you applied the motto to your life?
Darlington was home for me for four years of my life. The facility, staff, and Rome Parents raised me and instilled lessons and knowledge that I will remember for the rest of my life.
“Wisdom more than Knowledge”- Wisdom comes from age and experiences throughout your life. I have been extremely lucky to have been able to experience things that most people will never get the chance to. I have lived in a dormitory where I had to learn to live with more than thirty different cultures and personalities, move to a city where I knew no one and start a new life and career. I have always lived my life to consistently be fair, honest, and accepting. Taking these opportunities and learning experiences to help me grow as a person in hopes to pass this wisdom onto my children.
“Service Beyond Self”- Serving others in need is something I feel like I learned at Darlington through the many charity events they allowed the students to participate in. I have continued to work with charities here in Houston in hopes to give someone else in need the opportunity to succeed in life.
“Honor above Everything”- Throughout my life I have built some of the most amazing relationships on the foundation of honesty. Honesty allows trust to form and as trust builds the relationship will grow. One thing I have learned in business is never be afraid to admit you are wrong. Showing humility is humbling and people respect that. Honor your commitment and see it through to the finish.
We always say the DarWorld is a small world. Do you ever come across Darlington connections with your work?
My most recent connection was at Leadership Darlington. I just happened to be partnered with David Ledbetter (’88) who works in the construction development business and we were able to share knowledge and information about different ways to look at building processes and materials. I was able to take the information that he gave me and apply it to some of our projects here in Houston.
Tell us how people can follow you.
Are you interested in being featured in the Alumni to Follow series or know of a fellow alum whose work would be a great feature? Email Becca Wood for more details.