Matthew Muller’s goal from a very young age was to be his own boss. His aspirations were influenced by his grandfather’s success as a hardworking, multi-talented entrepreneur.
He began a family construction business 60 years ago, passing the spirit of entrepreneurship down from one generation to the next. Now, Mathew Muller and his own family run Tertiary Creations, a custom construction company specializing in residential construction and renovations.
Despite his family’s legacy and influence, Matthew didn’t start his career in construction.
Growing up in New Orleans, he went to Louisiana State for both his undergrad as well as his master’s degree, majoring in American History. In less than a year after college, Matthew began working in a museum as a volunteer. In a short period of time he worked his way up to museum manager. For a time after this he transitioned to teaching, which was a career field he truly enjoyed devoting his time and expertise.
In time, Matthew realized he no longer wanted to work for others. This is where the inspiration from his grandfather, father, and the family business inspired him on his path to the construction industry. Being around construction for more than 20 years while growing up, Matthew already knew the industry well. He became aware that even as an entrepreneur, he was still interacting with others and teaching by solving problems daily.
Matthew sums it up by saying, “Although Tertiary Creations is less than a year old and a new venture, there’s a familiarity following in my grandfather’s footsteps.”
What do you currently do at your company?
I am the owner, although I wear many different hats on a daily basis. There are many things I am responsible for at Tertiary Creations including sales, accounting, execution and closing of jobs, and anything in between. It’s a position I enjoy because there is always something keeping me busy and engaged.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Specifically, my wife’s creativity was the inspiration. She had the design background and I had the construction capabilities. It made sense to join forces and create special and unique designs for our customers. We enjoy the work even if it’s a custom paint job or a deck design. The added bonus of this partnership is that we get to create together!
What defines your way of doing business?
At the end of the day, it comes down to focusing on quality above all else. For all things, we make sure to stick to working one step at a time. Focusing on the quality ensures your customers are happy. I find that if you can do that, the rest will fall into place.
What keys to being productive can you share?
Most days I wake up early. I find it is important to start your day early to get a jump on the work that needs done and still spend time with your family.
Another key to being productive would be to push yourself out of your comfort zone and wear yourself out a bit. Fully dedicating yourself to the task at hand may require you to go outside of the usual routine. This means you expand your skills, improve your ability to problem solve new issues, and provide a path forward for the future.
Finally, keeping a strong work ethic and persistence are also key.
Tell us one long-term goal in your career.
My long-term goal would be to retire early to enjoy life and do things that myself and my wife have dreamt of doing.
How do you measure success?
The money our company earns is the way I measure success. For me there is no exception to that. I strongly believe in personal success as well, but the measurement is different. Since we are a newly formed company, we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to establish success for ourselves in the industry. While profit isn’t our only priority, it is definitely something we pay attention to as a measure of our early success.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?
Developing relationships is the lifeblood of being successful and having a successful business. You can have a great work ethic, be consistent and on time, but if you don’t build relationships with the people you are dealing with daily, you make things more difficult for yourself. In retrospect, it makes things more pleasant and rewarding to get along with the people you interact with consistently. It also makes you more efficient. This is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned.
What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?
It’s good to think things through and develop a plan, but that isn’t the most crucial part of creating success. I notice people in this field tend to be cautious or over think things. Something will always come up, fail, or need fixing. If you get in there, get dirty and do the work, the rest will fall into place. Based on my experience in business, my advice is to act now, think later.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
I enjoy cardio exercise. You can often find me with my running group or operating our local Frisbee league. I savor downtime as well however, specifically reading historical books.
How would your colleagues describe you?
Industrious. I am the first to arrive at work and typically the last to leave the office.
How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?
This is one of the most difficult things I have struggled with being an entrepreneur. Owning your own business is rewarding, but it often comes at a cost. The cost for me is work-life balance, something I work on daily.
What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?
My shared calendar hands down is the most beneficial to me. If you don’t plan your day and schedule your time, life would be chaos. A shared calendar allows you to link to others and share what you are doing. I share mine with my team, my wife, even certain clients I interact with weekly. It is an exceptional tool to plan daily, weekly, monthly.