Exclusive Interview with Billionaire’s Calvin & Janet High

“Firmly established ethical standards and a strong belief in quality, innovation, and integrity”

Today, we are excited to share with you an interview we completed with Calvin & Janet High of High Steel Corp and High Industries, along with nine other companies with over 4,000 employees.

The companies trace their roots back to the 1930s when Sanford High founded the High Welding Company, and the company grew rapidly through the 1950s and 1960s, supporting bridge construction nationally.

Over time, the company diversified and is currently active in steel, concrete, real estate, construction, hotels, transportation, air quality and safety consulting, and other fields, as well as running their own foundation.

Their companies are highly regarded locally, so much so that 84 years after its founding, a bronze sculpture in Lancaster was erected in their honor.

This interview would not have been possible without the help of one of our founding partners at Billionaires.com, Dave Zook. Dave is a friend; he is family-oriented like myself, runs an investment firm called The Real Asset Investor, and we have invested together on several occasions.

You can sometimes catch him speaking at our events, and if you do, he is a valuable person to meet and get to know.

What was the major turning point, point of increased momentum, or strategic choke point, that once you acquired or completed made everything you were doing surge forward?

Really for us, since getting started in 1931 we had very gradual incremental growth. We developed new methods, processes, and technologies for constructing bridges for then steel girders across the nation. We did complete a series of acquisitions over the years, including King Welding but there was no one acquisition or breakthrough move that suddenly made us 10x or 100x larger, it was really gradual over 93 years. However, when my 10 year younger brother Dale and I bought out our 5 year younger brother Don and Father Sanford, we clicked well with differing talents.

I would say also though that with firmly established ethical standards and a strong belief in quality, innovation, and integrity. To this day, those guiding principles and our dedication to customers, employees, and our world continue to drive our success.

What is the most valuable strategy, worth far more than $1M, that you wish someone provided you with early on that you can share here?

Sure, well a lot of it comes down to fundamental business best practices that just aren’t very common in many companies today. These would include things such as:

  • – Pay suppliers promptly (discounted if possible by doing so).
  • – Take care of employees, they are golden and key to having a strong consistently performing company over many decades of time
  • – Satisfy your customers so they want to buy from you and you earn their repeat business.

What is the #1 most costly mistake you have made, seen investors make, or business owners make that could be avoided?

I would say the #1 mistake that we could have avoided if we had known better was around the timing of assuming the ownership of another real estate developer. In real estate timing, interest rates and market sentiment really makes a difference and due to unfortunate timing we had to sell properties to help make up for bad ones we had taken on. I would recommend to measure twice, make sure you are right and high conviction and then go ahead and take calculated risks. Nobody grows over a century without some bumps and lessons learned along the way like this many times over.