Rex Rozario’s Next Big Thing, Part 2


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Follow this link to read Part 1.

In Part 2 of this two-part series, the conversation continues with Rex Rozario and Michael Caines as they discuss the ups and downs of creating their magnificent Lympstone Manor hotel and restaurant, including budget constraints, a fire during the renovation, and the joy of seeing the project come together beautifully.

Matties: In any process, there are lessons learned. What lesson have you learned during this process?

Caines: I think the big lesson is that when you start on the journey, you put a lot of trust in other people's skill sets. I think what I learned is that actually you’re better off employing people directly and controlling key areas. Because ultimately, when you’re so involved with something, you really want to know that those people are loyal to you, and they don’t have any other interest.

The other thing I would say is that, overall, the great learning curve is that a project like this teaches you so many things. It’s an old house. It was architecturally a challenge, in terms of the state of it. We were challenged in terms of the program time and delivery. Along the way, we were blessed with good weather, which saved the project. We had to pull back two months’ worth of the project that was projected to be running over, back to it being open on time.

Entrance.jpgWe also challenged the budget, which required us just to have a short-term loan from our investors and an overdraft. Generally, we were disciplined through the whole process, and we drove the product to a conclusion. We learned along the way that you’ve got to take control of things, and not let a situation get out of control. Also, be proactive with problems, rather than reactive, and see potentially where you are getting problems.

Ultimately, what you realize is that even though the building trade is a different discipline, it’s all the same principle. It's about managing people and doing things in a logical way. It’s getting people to work together as a team, rather than against each other, because nothing happens otherwise.

Matties: It’s the alignment. You have to be aligned.

Caines: Yeah. You’ve got to buy in. Everyone’s got to buy in. As the head of the project and somebody that’s known within the community, you can’t shy away from the problems. You've got to put yourself forward. Because when all the people on-site know that you go up to them and say "Thank you," and you get involved, they buy into you. Even though they’re employed by someone else, they want to represent themselves in this project. Because they want to say, "Yeah, we were there for that." So you know that you've got them to buy in.

I think if I was doing it again, right at the beginning, we would be the project managers. We would be the principal contractors. Because we paid somebody else, in effect, to do a job, and they let us down. We found, as a result, we put trust in them and they didn’t deliver for us in a way that we expected. That really could have caused us a huge amount of problems if we hadn’t been proactive in sorting that out.

Again, we looked back to our investors when we were challenged. When we were transparent and open, we gave them a solution, and they entrusted in us to make the decisions that we felt were necessary to get the project done. Trust is another thing. When people trust you not only do a project, but a considerable investment, delivery is key. How you conduct yourself to get that project delivered with openness and honesty I think is important. You can’t bury bad news. You can’t lie about your circumstances.

Lympstone_Manor_2_May_17_93.jpgIf you’re honest and open about it and then you give all the facts, and you make a decision collectively with that knowledge, then we all buy into it as a team, too. We know we’ve got difficult decisions, but best we face them together and unite behind one direction than trying to be dishonest. You can’t deal with the facts if you don’t know. You can’t make a decision if you don’t have the full facts to deal with.

Matties: They want the truth.

Caines: Exactly, because everybody knows where they stand, not everyone’s going to agree, but as long as there is consensus. Actually, across the whole project, we’ve all agreed, generally, with all of the key things that needed to happen. They didn’t do it through blind faith, but they did it through experience, knowing that sometimes these things always never end up quite as planned. It’s how you react to it. I wouldn’t be here but for the trust and faith that investors and people like Rex have put in me and the project.

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