A Conversation with NAWBO Member Rosemary Swierk | NAWBO

A Conversation with NAWBO Member Rosemary Swierk

Gamechangers Rosemary Sierk



A Conversation with NAWBO member Rosemary Swierk, Founder/President of Direct Steel and Construction, On Thinking in Sell-mode, Her Valuation Team, And How NAWBO Helps Her Business Grow.


Many experts say it is important to do a valuation long before you sell. Have you done one for Direct Steel and Construction?

Yes. There are many facets to any business (e.g., sales, marketing, human resources, insurance, financials, operations, etc.). In addition to discussions with a mentor and advisory board members, quarterly process meetings and regular reviews and updates of Direct's growth plan, the valuation served as a third party assessment of the company. This objective feedback is just another tool to identify areas of improvements and create strategy to implement improvement.


Do you naturally think sell-mode as a business owner – even when you are not interested in selling?

As the founder of Direct Steel and Construction "sell" is the front and center. However, strategic growth is front and center too. Direct utilizes similar criteria a potential purchaser would evaluate to consider business and growth plans.


Who's on your valuation "team”?

  1. A formal mentor (this man was a general contractor for 40 years)
  2. Advisory board members – including an attorney with M&A focus
  3. Valuation CPA


Have you invested time in transition planning for the future or is it too hard to think this way when you have years ahead of you and you're busy running a thriving business?

Similar to a business plan and/or growth plan, a transition plan is a fluid document. As the growth plan is modified, that may affect a potential transition plan. Many variables account for a transition plan. Those variables may change over time. 


Every 90 days you tackle areas of improvement based on monthly spreadsheets. Do you think this will help your company be valued at a higher rate down the road?

Direct conducts quarterly process meetings with key staff members. The meetings have proved valuable in establishing a system and accountability for a consistent process for evaluation and improvement.

These meetings are intended to:

  1. Remind key staff members of Direct's mission statement and value proposition.
  2. Review achievements from the last process meeting.
  3. Review and modify process flows.
  4. Identify bottlenecks, issues, areas of improvements within those processes.
  5. Delegate staff members to correct or identify a path for corrections for most of the identified items.


Your company emphasizes the relationship between technology, people and space. When it comes to valuation – beyond the hard and fast numbers – what are the intangibles that define a company's worth?

Certainly, there are a number of ways a company may be valuated. Whatever the method, Direct utilizes similar criteria a potential purchaser would evaluate to consider business and growth plans. Outside of financials, some items Direct considers vital to the health of the company include:

Strong management and staff
Proven processes
Checks and balances
Strong client base
Past experience
Vendor relationships
Project pipeline – depth and width
Ownership structure


How has NAWBO helped you up your game as a business owner?

I have been a member of NAWBO for a few years. It is NAWBO’s strategic relationships, which have drawn me year after year. For instance, I was initially introduced to NAWBO through a woman I met through the Women's Business Development Center. NAWBO also offered its support to the Goldman Sach's 10,000 Small Business Program. These support programs and networks developed through these organizations have helped me strategically grow Direct Steel and Construction.


About Direct Steel and Construction

General Contractor • Construction Manager • WBE
3321 S. Rt. 31
Crystal Lake, IL 60012

Groups audience: