Rast Bryant works in a very hands-on industry: commercial roofing.
Bryant is the general manager of Lloyd Roofing in Fort Myers. He's seen an uptick in business as more residential units are built in Southwest Florida, because, as the old business saying goes, "retail follows residential."
In addition, a rush in new roof and repair work usually follows a big storm, such as Hurricane Ian in 2022. That's partly why Lloyd Roofing's Southwest Florida sales volume increased from $472,000 in 2021 to $6.8 million in 2022, the company says in Bryant's nomination form. Company officials project $11 million in 2023 sales volume in the division.
Beyond massive growth, the job itself is tough. Commercial roofing involves lots of outside work building low-slope roofs and flat roofs. The sun can dehydrate workers, so Bryant makes sure they do not push themselves too far. Bryant says he makes his workers take breaks and to hydrate, because exhaustion can sneak up on workers in the heat.
Bryant is used to outside work, where he learned his work ethic not from a carpenter but from a planter and landscaper — his father, Meredith "Kip" Bryant. Kip Bryant ran a wholesale nursery on 6.8 acres south of Miami. There, Kip Bryant would grow plants to sell to landscapers.
Rast Bryant would help as a kid, sometimes making a dollar per grasshopper he caught — since they would chew on the plants. Rast Bryant soon learned why his father worked so hard.
"He always knew a good work ethic would lead to freedom to be with his family," says Bryant.
Another lesson he learned from his father was not to cut corners. Customers know when you do, and then they don't come back.
One day, Kip Bryant asked Rast if he wanted to take over. Rast Bryant told his father he wanted to work in another field. His father accepted his son's choice, and Rast Bryant marvels on how he wound up in an even more laborious field, managing people well and driving sales up.
Rast Bryant says he succeeded because of his father's advice to "get uncomfortable" in his career. Butterflies in the stomach should not stop you, Kip told his son. Those butterflies are instead a sign you are growing and readying to accept a challenge.
"The fun is on the other side of that," Rast Bryant says.