Dennis Crimmins is a commercial developer based out of Alamogordo, New Mexico.
After graduating high school, Dennis took an interest in the construction sector and took a job with White Sands Construction in 1982. As a residential remodeling company with a solid reputation, Dennis saw a future with the business.
In 1986, Dennis seized an opportunity to purchase the company. Through hard work and a commitment to excellence, he expanded into the commercial and government sectors. Over the last several decades, the company has had a hand in developing and building some of the most recognized buildings in New Mexico.
Dennis has always worked with the guiding principle – if you take care of your people, they will take care of you. He prides himself on being approachable and values open communication. From employees to suppliers, Dennis treats everyone with respect and integrity. He has also enjoyed being able to keep the business family-owned and operated and has enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside his wife Nell.
Most recently, Dennis has sold the construction side of the company to his children and has moved into the position of CEO for WSCI, which handles the development side.
What do you currently do at your company?
I am the CEO of WSCI, which is the development side of White Sands. I work with the brokers, architects, and engineers to develop our properties. Working with the local municipality for the proper permits is another part of my job. The development we are working on in Las Cruces right now is right in the center of town, so we want to be sure we have everything right before we start the conviction itself. It’s in a redevelopment area where the government has made an “Opportunity Zone” to help bring the area into the modern era. I am a very hands-on businessman. I really enjoy getting out there every day and watching our projects from the ground up. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done before we even break ground. .I love being a part of all of that.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I wanted to slow down and start thinking about retirement. In the last few years before I sold the construction business to my family, I started doing a lot of “Build to Suit” for national companies. It took a lot less of my time and had less conflicts than what I experienced while in the construction space with White Sands. White Sands had gotten so large by then and I was just really ready for a change. That is what started me in the direction of development as opposed to construction. I could still be a part of what I loved, but with a lot less headache.
What defines your way of doing business?
I am very sensitive to anyone I work with. I have always believed that the more you take care of the people you work with, the better they will take care of you. This has helped me since the very beginning, I have numerous employees that have been with me for decades. I often say I don’t pay anyone because they are making us money and I give them a percentage of it. I have always believed the better you take care of your employees, your sub-contractors, and anyone you do business with, the more successful you will be. We have had this much success because of all the people who work with us and it’s a better investment to provide well for them because it is returned in kind.
What keys to being productive can you share?
First thing is to show up every day. My whole career I have heard people say that they can’t get something done. They may have just had a meeting with a dozen people where an actual plan was discussed, but never solidified. I show up with a plan and with steps to make it a reality. You have to come prepared and also be prepared to follow through. Always do what you say you are going to do. I would rather have several jobs going at a time that will make me a fair profit instead of one or two that will yield a huge profit. You can’t retire on one or two big ones. You have to stay as productive as you can in order to have lasting success.
How do you measure success?
I measure success by being able to do what makes you happy. I believe money is a tool, not a measurement for success. People who are doing what they enjoy doing are successful. I have always said this isn’t my job, this is my hobby. Anyone who can say they really enjoy what they do is successful. Being able to wake up and look forward to your day is a measure of success. Obviously, we all want to have a comfortable life and to be able to afford necessities, but it is the people who truly enjoy their work that have real success. Too many people get tied up with how much money they are making.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?
Be careful of those who believe that money is everything. Early in my career, I worked with someone like that and I found that the person was ok with cutting corners. I am grateful to have had the experience early on in my career because it helped me see things more clearly. That is not how I wanted to do business and I quickly learned how to identify those kind of businesses. I work only with people who I know are ethical and willing to put in the work. A company should worry about their reputation and work hard to establish a good one. Those who are only in it for profit can sometimes be less stringent with how things are done. I avoid those companies.
What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?
What is really critical in the construction field is the knowledge that the hardest work comes toward the end of a job. Going in there is always a plan, but along the way things may pop up that you have to work around. The best advice I can give is to put in extra effort as you come to the end of a project. You want to make sure that the person you are working with is happy with your work. That is how you build up your company. Make sure you finish the job right, even if you have to give away a little bit. It is critical that you both walk away feeling good about the job, so that they will want to work with you again in the future.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
I love to travel. I love to spend time with my grandkids. They are really into motocross and I love spending the weekends with them, watching them race.
How would your colleagues describe you?
I think they would describe me as aggressive, but fair. I want things to run as smoothly as possible for everyone and I tend to get hyper-focused when we have an active project going. That doesn’t mean I am unwilling to listen to others or that I think what I say goes 100% of the time. I want to make sure everyone I work with is on the same page. I communicate well with others and make sure that everyone knows they can approach me with issues if they arise.
How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?
It is a lot easier now that I am on the development side of things. I can work from anywhere easily. While I was still on the construction side, it was definitely harder to maintain a decent balance. It can be so tough to keep a balance. I’ve been married more than forty years, and I have been blessed that she has been able to work with me for the majority of those years. I think for many people, it is having that supportive partner that helps you balance between work and home, more so than actually being able to put aside time specifically for your family. Learning what works best for yourself and your family, no matter what that may look like, is the best I can think of.
What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?
The best technology that I really enjoy is a software called Dragon. When I went to school, typing and computers weren’t the norm. I never learned the high tech stuff, so I have always been the pecker when typing. Dragon is a speak to type software that really cut down the time between myself and my employees. It completely changed the way I operate and made things run so much smoother overall.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
That ties in with how I do business. My brother was very successful and he is the one who told me to always treat people how you want to be treated. Take care of them and they will take care of you. I have literally run this business with that notion in mind and I have found great success with it. Even if you are a strictly money-motivated person, this is the best advice I can give. It honestly works no matter what field you are in. The way to find success is to take care of those around you. Whether it be your employees or another business, you want them to know that you can be trusted to keep your word and deliver on the promises you have made. Respect and transparency go a long way.