Ryan Lodge knew at a fairly early age that he wanted to work in the building industry.
In his teens, he worked construction jobs doing carpentry and roofing. At the University of Florida, the Miami Shores native majored in construction management. “It seemed like there was a lot of opportunity, and it was very hands on, which I liked,” Lodge says.
Once out of school, Lodge and his wife moved to Sarasota, where he and a brother-in-law formed a partnership to build houses.
The economic recession of 2008 didn’t rock his desire to build, but it did force him to scramble to find a way to make an income. With the housing market all but dried up, Lodge shifted to erecting and assembling steel buildings.
The structures were growing in popularity, in large part because they were relatively inexpensive alternatives to traditional ground-up construction and could be put together quickly.
As Lodge became more familiar with the product type and the formulation — and as the economy started to rebound — he moved into producing and fabricating structural steel through Capstone Contractors LLC, a company he’d started. Before long, he was hiring welders and sending crews out on job sites to put what he calls the “bones” of commercial buildings together.
“I enjoyed it and saw the opportunity to try and grow the niche business,” he says.
Today, Capstone employs 30 and has done steel work for Bayside Church in Manatee County, Tervis Tumbler in Sarasota, a new Volkswagen auto dealership outside Tampa and several of the retail buildings that ring the Mall at University Town Center along with Ellenton industrial buildings for Benderson Development Co.
Although finding the right employees can be difficult at times, Lodge says he hopes to continue to grow the company over the next several years — a prospect made easier by the recent installation of new equipment at a cost of $350,000 that will make producing and forming steel faster. His goal is to triple Capstone’s sales, to about $15 million, by 2025.
“I’m a very competitive person,” Lodge says. “I’d like us to get more complicated jobs going forward that stretch us a bit while still maintaining our quality.
“It’s a real sense of accomplishment and pride to see a completed building and know that you played an intricate role in its development."
City of Residence
Capstone Contractors LLC
Years on the Gulf Coast
Married with three children
University of Florida — Bachelor of Science in building construction, magna cum laude
What community group or organization are you most involved with?
Sarasota Yacht Club Board of Directors
What's the weirdest job you've ever had?
Mate on a commercial fishing charter boat
What's your top tip for being productive?
My top tip for staying productive is to try to keep a routine and to stay on track. I have to limit my distractions, and I like to break a project into small measurable tasks that allow me to track my progress and keep me focused.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be?
I'd like to work as a restaurant chef.
What's your favorite off-hours activity?
Fishing, preferably deep sea
What's your favorite board game, game show or video game?
What do you use most — Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or Google Meetings?
What’s the best binge-worthy show you have enjoyed during the pandemic?
What’s the longest virtual meeting you’ve been on since mid-March?
How many times had you used video for a work meeting prior to the pandemic?
Only a couple times, and it wasn't very productive.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during the pandemic?
The most important lesson I've learned is the value of having good team members. The requirement to work from home, or anywhere remotely, can be a real challenge, especially with the added stress and complexity of home schooling. I am fortunate to have assembled a management team that is highly self motivated and dedicated to our success. They have been able to manage their time in such a way that they are able handle their responsibilities to our company as well as their responsibility to their families.
What do you miss most about the world pre-pandemic?
I just miss the ease of things. Now it seems you can't do much of anything without calculating all the risks.
What have you been spending more time doing during the pandemic?
Do you prefer working from home or working from an office?
How have you kept up camaraderie with colleagues during the pandemic?
Yes. Our company's line of work is considered an essential business, so we have been able to operate throughout the pandemic. This requires daily dialogue with the team and allows everyone to communicate on a regular basis.
What’s the first thing you’ll do after the pandemic?
Once this has passed, I'd like to go to a concert or a Gator game at The Swamp. I'm usually not a big fan of large crowds, but I think it would feel really good to be around a large group without having to worry. It would provide some closure to this crazy time in our lives.