We are drawn to stories of success when they come out of circumstances that point to seemingly impossible odds. They inspire us. They give us hope. They remind us of the strength and determination of the human spirit to reach beyond a present reality to make a difference. Such is the story behind Trencore Plastering Inc. and Brix Masonry Inc.
Though officially registered as a Plastering business in 2013, Trencore traces its roots back to that fateful day in 1979 when its president, Justin Erdtsieck, was born. At that time, Justin’s father worked at a plastering gun company. But Justin’s birth made his father quickly realize that he needed to turn his life around to take care of him. So, he did.
He left his job, got a loan from his father to purchase his own plastering gun; and rounded up a handful of friends, most likely co-workers, to build his own plastering company from scratch. By 1990, he had about a thousand employees on his payroll. Even without a college degree, the elder Mr. Erdtsieck became the proverbial self-made man!
As the Erdtsieck plastering business grew exponentially, Justin was unaware of how successful his father had actually become. One of his most vivid childhood memories is that of his father stressing the value of work. He recalls that at 12 years old, his father told him that when he turned 13, he would have to begin working. Starting in his early teens, he worked at the company’s construction yard throughout summer breaks. Once he got his driver’s license at 16, he worked after school with smaller crews at the company’s construction yard as well. In 1998, merely two weeks after graduating from high school, Justin gave up his final summer —one every high school grad looks forward to, and joined his father’s business. Without any knowledge of plastering or mentoring in the basics, Justin apprenticed in the field alongside seasoned workers.
The knowledge he gained led to a promotion to a field superintendent, where he reported to upper-management, though never working directly under his father. Although he was the son, the heir, being invited to work with his father in the office seemed so out of reach. By then, and nearing his mid- 20’s, Justin lost his motivation to advance. It wasn’t long before his father told him to find another job since he wasn’t showing a passion for the family business. It is a day Justin remembers clearly: He walked across the street and asked the owner of a nearby concrete pump business to teach him the ropes.
For several years, he made it on his own. But, blinded by a fragile sense of independence—being his own boss, creating his own work schedule and reporting to no one, Justin was soon lured into the world of drugs. Though he was a “functioning addict”, his father was not fooled. This time though, the father became the son’s saving grace. He offered to fund what Justin now calls his rehabilitation – a trip around the world.
Traveling the world for a year, he discovered and was able to appreciate life beyond Orange County. When he returned, at nearly 30, Justin moved in with his dad. Then came the invitation he had longed for—to work with his father at the office and learn how to run the business and be part of upper management. It was a chance to start over ! He jumped through all the hoops of learning the business: handling accounts payable, accounts receivable, financial management, submitting reports to his father, etc. Justin sums up his father’s old-school style of leadership as HARD CORE.
It was a tough time that took a toll on Justin emotionally; but when he reflects on that time, he appreciates its lessons and values the experience of having had his shortcomings brought to light.
In 2008, Justin plunged into a marriage that was doomed for failure—-getting married for the wrong reasons. One was seeking his father’s approval, to show that he was ready for commitment and responsibility. Amid the economic meltdown, a shattered marriage and his loss of self-esteem, Justin was miserable. Under his father’s scrutiny in seemingly everything he did; and feeling totally dependent, he felt like a puppet. Like his father had done years earlier when Justin was born, he too looked at his children and realized the need to turn his life around and take care of them. One day, he invited his father to lunch and after the awkward silence following the small-talk, Justin gathered the courage to bare his heart. It marked another turning point for the Erdtsieck’s. He told him he could no longer work for him. Justin is confident that he never would have made a move like this if it wasn’t for the strength and support of his now wife, Erynne.
The next day, father called his son to his office where the “master” cut the first string that bound the puppet to him. Though the elder Erdtsieck wasn’t completely confident that the younger Erdtsieck had the ability to run the company, he yielded with faith and trust. And gradually, he stepped back so the younger Erdtsieck could move forward. One day, after a 3-month hiatus to address a medical condition, Justin’s father called to let him know that he wouldn’t be returning to work. In that one phone call, Justin inherited his father’s company.
In 2017, after making some missteps that could have devastated, the company, Justin began focusing on the core values he learned from his father and relaying them to his employees. The core values of hard work, resilience, perseverance, determination, trust and compassion proved to be Trencore Plastering Inc. and Brix Masonry Inc.’s lifesaver. These enduring values are the pillars of the employees’ work ethic. Unlike the authoritarian management style his father used, Justin has replaced it with a servant leadership style that empowers his employees by helping them develop their potential and optimize their performance.
Today, the son is now the father, not only of his 2 sons but also of his 3 companies. About 500 employees from his father’s company are still with him. Justin has long made peace with his father and importantly, has made peace with himself. Happy for a second chance at marriage, Justin and his wife bring the 3rd generation of Erdtsieck’s into exciting times for Trencore Plastering, Inc.
WE MEASURE OUR SUCCESS BY THE WAY WE TOUCH THE LIVES OF PEOPLE.