The Dream Team: Jeannette and Tim Wyatt
How a husband and wife duo think outside the box
Jeannette and Tim Wyatt are the perfect team: innovative, collaborative and creative. Together, the husband-and-wife duo are the owners of Wyatt Management, a Houston-based general contractor. In fact, it was the business—and their determination to see it succeed—that initially brought them together. Today, they’re working side by side to take Wyatt Management to the next level.
Tim has always been interested in construction, even though the medical field runs in his blood—his father and great grandfather were both doctors. But Tim chose a different path, graduating with a construction management degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and working for a general contractor for 15 years. While he’s always had a love for construction, there was one thing that bothered him: he began to notice how the only people who truly profited in the industry were those at the top.
“I became very disenchanted with how construction companies were run,” says Tim. “I felt that in most companies—particularly in construction—the owners were the only ones who were really benefiting financially.”
Unsatisfied with the status quo, Tim wanted to do something different. So, in 1998 he decided to strike out on his own and form his own company, Wyatt Management.
“I wanted to start a company that would benefit everyone—a company that would have a team atmosphere,” says Tim.
While headquartered its own office building in Minneapolis, the company was doing 60-70 percent of its business in Texas. Tim developed a strong base of loyal customers, including Arby’s, Red Wing Shoes, Wendy’s, Green Mill and McDonald’s. Wyatt Management was doing well.
Then, in 2008, the recession hit. Business practically slowed to a standstill. Tim closed his office building and decided to head south to try to keep the company afloat.
And that’s when he met Jeannette.
Jeannette spent the majority of her career in health care marketing. It wasn’t until 2008, when she met Tim, that she discovered a penchant for construction marketing. When they first met, Tim handed Jeannette his business card; she took one look at it and told him the first thing he needed was an overhaul of his branding and a comprehensive marketing strategy to revive the business. It was a match made in heaven.
While Tim had mostly relied on word of mouth to land new clients, Jeannette immediately set upon an aggressive marketing effort that included mailing hundreds of direct-mail letters to construction managers at top retail and restaurant companies. In addition, she called upon her creative expertise to implement out-of-the-box marketing strategies (which she won’t reveal).
“I used a variety of unique tactics—things that helped us get our foot in the door with new clients, so to speak,” explains Jeannette. “Tricks of the trade that I learned from my mentor and entrepreneur, Alexandra Rand, who I worked for after grad school. I also began employing digital and social media, email marketing, and e-newsletters to increase our brand awareness and get Wyatt Management on the bidders’ lists of new clients.”
Jeannette’s expertise helped build the business back up after the recession, growing and diversifying Wyatt Management’s client base to include leading customers such as Chipotle, lululemon, Pizza Hut, Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana, not to mention one of the company’s most high-profile clients to date, Shake Shack.
Shake Shack Comes to Town
When Shake Shack announced it would be opening its first location in Houston, nearly every general contractor in the city began vying for its business. Even though Wyatt Management was—and is—a small contractor by comparison, Jeannette was undeterred and determined to land the job. “I’m going after them,” she told Tim. And she did.
Tim and Jeannette were floored when, a month after she initiated a marketing campaign to the company, the phone rang. The director of construction for the New York-based company was flying to Houston to interview them in person. Not long after, Tim and Jeannette were told that Wyatt Management had the job.
Even though it was a big win for the company, Tim also knew the stakes were high.
“They hired us knowing we were a small contractor. They’re used to using $50 million+ contractors,” says Tim. “The heat was on. We felt added pressure to perform well.”
Work began in August 2016, but the project wasn’t without its challenges. The location proved difficult: the logistics of getting materials in and out of the four-story Galleria was tricky. To complicate matters further, the Shake Shack was located directly above the power plant, meaning one wrong move and the entire mall could be shut down.
Even still, Wyatt Management completed the job on time, and Shake Shack’s first Houston location had its grand opening that November.
Since then, Wyatt Management has been hard at work on a second Shake Shack in San Antonio and will soon begin work on a third location in Rice Village.
Growth and Opportunity
For Wyatt Management—the company that started in a one-room office in Minneapolis and then moved to Texas to ride out a recession—there is a bright future ahead, full of growth and opportunity.
Tim has seen the size of projects grow, from previously averaging $130,000 to $400,000 jobs to now doing $500,000 to $2 million jobs. Meanwhile, Jeannette continues to find new, innovative ways to market the company, further diversifying their client base by bringing in more dining establishments and increasing retail clients.
But for all the change the company has gone through in recent years, one thing remains the same: Wyatt Management stays true to Tim’s original dream of opening a company that values integrity, humility and respect—a company where everyone benefits.
Ask any one of Wyatt Management’s employees what they like most about working for Tim and Jeannette, and they’ll likely say that it’s the close-knit, family atmosphere that the company promotes.
Brandon Roberts, who started out as a Superintendent for Wyatt Management and is now a Project Manager, says the first thing he noticed when he was hired was how much trust Tim and Jeannette place in their people. “They trust us to run the projects; they don’t look over our shoulders and don’t question us,” he says. “If something does go wrong, they step in and ask, ‘how can we help?’ To me, that’s what a family does.”
Tim remains passionate about mentoring young superintendents and promoting from within the company, and his hope is that his next project manager will also come from the field.
Together, Tim and Jeannette will continue to look for opportunities to improve and grow, thinking outside the box and ensuring Wyatt Management’s long-term success. “To us, success means everybody wins,” says Jeannette. “We want to be a great company where employees look forward to coming to work every day and where everyone, including our clients, can reap the rewards of our team effort.”