AJ Loss has gone from sweeping up at home construction sites as a teenager to running his own major construction company in the Quad-Cities.
Loss is the president and CEO of Bush Construction, which was created in 2008 as a subsidiary of McCarthy-Bush Corp. He's an Iowa State University graduate who served in the U.S. Navy before earning a degree in construction engineering. Loss is known for leading several local developments, as well as retaining a young and energetic workforce.
Here are some of his thoughts on running a company.
Was it always a goal to lead a company?
Absolutely. When I dreamed of leading a successful commercial construction company, I was never quite sure exactly how it would happen. I just tried my best to notice when doors of opportunity were opening, and when they did, took some risks, then prayed.
What are some of the most challenging decisions you make as a business leader?
I started this company on a foundation of integrity. “Integrity” is not often a word used in conjunction with the construction industry. At Bush Construction, we have made the decision to define ourselves by displaying integrity in what we do. There have been times when standing up for “doing the right thing” has been challenging, but this delayed gratification strategy has been one of our keys to success and a has been major source of pride for our team.
What are some of the qualities you value in employees or your team?
Integrity. Relationships. Collaboration. Innovation. Drive. These are Bush Construction’s core values. We hire and train our team to exemplify these qualities.
Bush Construction is known for having a young workforce. How have you been successful in attracting and retaining young workers?
We invest in a strong college recruitment and internship program. We hire interns each year, some of whom were hired as project engineers and have since been promoted beyond that. We proactively reach out to high school students to encourage interest in the skilled trades. We, also plan off-site team building activities each month, giving our team a break from work and providing an atmosphere where the can build relationships with each other. All of that is important, but I would say most of our energy comes from the camaraderie that each team member has with one another on a daily basis — whether in casual conversations or while working together as a project team. Our team in welcoming and fun.
What are some of Bush’s greatest successes and what do you attribute them to?
Bush Construction was started during one of the worst economic downturns of our time. Six years later, Inc. Magazine ranked us as the 3rd fastest growing private company in the State of Iowa. And that rapid growth has not slowed down. Each member of our team is one of the most accomplished in their role. Our team’s drive, collaboration and ability to think outside-the-box is what helps makes us successful.
How is the local construction industry changing?
Because of initiatives like Q2030, I believe the Quad Cities economy is on the cusp of experiencing a greater rate of growth than we have seen in the past. That, combined with the new I-74 bridge project and the resulting economic development it brings will make the national skilled labor shortage even more noticeable here in the Q-C. The need to recruit the next generation into our skilled trades is more important than ever.
Building a company from scratch makes changes the norm. Over these past 10 years, we have built our dream team. With this dream team now in place, we are pursuing the newest technologies, new geographical areas, new market sectors and new services for our clients. We don’t sit still very well!
What advice do you have for anyone hoping to be a leader in the construction industry?
Listen to your team. Explore their individual strengths. Be willing to follow their visions for growth in your company and be open to creating new roles and departments that challenge the status quo in the industry. And last, but certainly not least, work hard.
Is there anything else you would like to say or share about Bush Construction?
Bush Construction is an affiliate of McCarthy Bush Corporation — a family-owned local company with roots dating back over 125 years. Bush Construction provides commercial construction management, design-build, general contractor, development, pre-construction and design services to our clients in the Quad Cities, as well as throughout the Midwest and Southeast.