Will Blake is familiar with the unexpected. His journey has taken him through many critical decisions, "oh shit" moments, and even failures. Yet despite the many twists and turns of life, Will has managed to build something that lasts.
Construction was the last thing on Will’s radar until he found himself a father-to-be. This was the turning point at which he decided to return to his roots to provide for his small family, and through creativity, humility, and perseverance, has found success in the last place he expected.
In 2017, Will and his wife Sydney started VESTA Foundation Solutions, a foundation repair company serving over 60 residents a week. They have 3 locations serving Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma and have received the INC 500 award three years in a row. VESTA now employs over 80 people and operates in three states.
Not only has Will built a foundation for his family and his team, he’s committed to investing in the next generation. In 2021, Will helped launch Construct My Future, a construction camp for middle schoolers, which helps educate kids about the career potential of the trade industry. He is also regularly sought for information regarding employee recruiting, engagement and retention practices, all of which he has put into his Software company UnisonWorx, Inc.
He is regularly giving his time to speak, mentor, and counsel other businesses and their teams. For more information about Will, visit his website.
Q: How did you get started in entrepreneurship?
A: My introduction to entrepreneurship is somewhat unique. I was 18 and was a signed musician. I thought I was going to be a rockstar. I worked as an employee until at age 20 my now wife Sydney became pregnant with our first born. That was the first "OH SHIT" moment in my life where I had to provide for a small new family. So I went to work at two jobs in the evenings and weekends and started a small construction company of my own. I swore I would never go back to construction because my father (a General Contractor) had us working on job sites as young as 6. He told us to never get into construction, but with a new family to provide for I just went back to what I knew and was comfortable with. I started with an $800 Chevy Astro Van everyone called "The Free Candy Van." It was a creepy junker that was my daily driver. I started small and slowly worked up. Those challenges taught me a lot in those first two years. I just thought you could work and make money but that's when I started learning about the true business side of entrepreneurship.
Q: Who was the first person to encourage you to pursue entrepreneurship?
A: My Father. He had always said "if you don't like where you work, work for your damn self." Imagine that in a deep southern accent from the mountains of North Carolina.
Q: What did you want to be as a kid?
A: I wanted to be an architect. I was always artistic and creative. Being around construction, I knew how things were built. I blew through six drafting courses in two semesters in high school, but I was not a good student. I had a 1.9 GPA. Because of my poor grades, I couldn't get into a university so I went to a small community college that only provided mechanical engineering degrees. I HATED IT! Then life took over and that was that.
Q: If you have kids, how do they describe what you do?
A: My 10 year old would just describe my job as “running a big company." My 18 year old would have said the same, but he currently owns his own small in-ground trampoline business. He would now say it is more about leadership than just running a big company. I think they both have been around us being business owners so long, they do not look at entrepreneurship and employment as two extremes. They just look at it as the way life is.
Q: What do you wish people knew about VESTA?
A: Many folks look at our foundation repair company VESTA like an instant success. But there have been several failures leading up to the start of this new venture in 2017. We had failed partnerships, success and failures in different capacities, and numerous mentors along the way. When we started VESTA we had a lot of stacked experience to prevent the problems that most go through with their first business.
Q: What's the best way you've been described during an introduction?
A: I spoke at a small conference & received an award recently. The person introduced me as: "One of the smartest and most humble leaders.” I had to laugh at this because (1) I AM NOT SMART! I mean I sometimes compare myself to Forrest Gump, or Chris Farley from Tommy Boy. Sometimes my EQ is way off! (2) How can I talk about humility without sounding arrogant? I mean: "Thanks for my award for being humble now let's talk about how humble I am?" And for those that know me, I'm pretty outgoing, extreme in my ideas, and love to have fun. I mean I have an outrageous sleeve tattoo, wear branded shoes with my company's logo and love rock music. I don't know if that's unconventional or not. But I am definitely not a Steve Jobs or a business guru that spends every available amount of time learning, grinding, and hustling.
Q: How do you wish you were introduced?
A: As I age (I’m currently 39), I just want to be introduced as someone that has helped people. I love to help people in everything I do. Sometimes it ruins my progress but it's still worth it. I just love to problem solve and be of value. In the long run, I hope to never be introduced at all. Let someone else have the spotlight.
Q: What is inspiring you lately?
A: I am inspired to see my 18 year old running his own business (as an alternative to college). When you raise a kid as a business owner, you think you are really messing them up. I mean, you are sometimes never home, or they are at the office with you late, or you forgo after school activities because the business needs the attention. They sit in early morning meetings and are told to sit down and just "be quiet". Then as they grow, you find out - “holy shit, he retained that?!" It is really exciting just to see his success and struggle. He is going to go way farther than I ever did.
Q: What do you most want to be remembered for?
A: Bear with me here. I get asked this a lot and my answers are always the same. For my company VESTA, we hope to not be remembered. We have an infinite mindset to that business. I hope that 100 years from now, people don't know who Will and Sydney are aside from a (very) small plaque that maybe has our name on it in the lobby. Personally, I don't remember any family members past my grandparents. So we make a joke that in order for our great (x5) grand kids to know who we are that they will have to enjoy cashing a trust fund check from us generations from now. Something titled with our name on it and a sarcastic quote about how spoiled they are!