By Tim Hunt
Growing a successful business starting in the boyhood bedroomUploaded: Apr 22, 2021
Ryan and Brad Alani got tired of working for someone else in 2011 so they set up their own business in the bedroom Ryan grew up in off Foothill Road in Pleasanton.
Ryan has lived in Pleasanton for 36 years and was working as a mechanical engineer, while Brad was working as a civil engineer. They decided to provide storm water management services to homebuilders and other developers. Ryan left his job and trained himself to sell, while Brad did the engineering work at night. They called it QuickSWPPP.
And what a success story the brothers have written. Sales started coming slowly and then Ryan persisted in calling Toll Brothers, which has a range of projects in the Tri-Valley and elsewhere in the Bay Area. They landed that contract and have grown steadily ever since.
By 2019, they had reached the milestone of nearly $1 million in revenue and did so with a four-man company. Only 4% of businesses achieve that level of revenue. They realized that they really needed some expert help and connected with Joe Cristiano, the retired CEO of Kelly Moore Paints, who runs the Northern California Mentoring Group. Cristiano had the brothers lined up to share their experiences during the Covid-19 lockdown last month that I wrote about earlier. Ryan reached out to me after that session to share what they’ve learned.
Initially, it was really tough because the political health departments shutdown all construction except affordable housing that was deemed “essential.” Complete garbage, but it held for about 30 days until officials wised up.
Then they faced another challenge because the health department officials required Covid-19 regulation compliance checks so they had to hurriedly train their field staff to meet that requirement.
Once they did that and construction resumed, their business has boomed. Their office is in the Bernal Corporate Park near Toll Brothers so they can stay in touch and continue to build that relationship.
The challenge shifted from maintaining revenue to growing the team so they can service the business with revenue doubling. That required growing the team from four people, comfortable to have a meeting around a restaurant table, to 10 people. It now includes two licensed civil engineers, including one working remotely from Wisconsin.
Through it all, they lived modestly moving after 18 months from the bedroom into a basic apartment near downtown Pleasanton and then, a few years later, relocating to a more luxurious new apartment near a BART station in Dublin.
The Foothill High grads maintain their connections to Pleasanton. Both grew up playing youth soccer—Ryan asked me what I knew about Al Caffodio for whom the original soccer league in the late 1960s was named. I recalled that Gary Patton, who headed the Pleasanton recreation department at the time, needed seed money to launch soccer and Caffodio wrote the check.
Who would have dreamt that the modest investment back then has resulted in thousands of boys and girls kicking soccer balls in the Tri-Valley over the last 50 years. Or that a business started in a boyhood bedroom now is doing more than $2 million in revenue.