Honesty and Hustle


First Published by Construction Executive

Kendrick Ballantyne
Optimum Construction
Portland, Maine

Age: 34
Education: Bachelor’s degree, finance, Northeastern University
Industry Tenure: 12 years

When Kendrick Ballantyne retired from his football career with the Baltimore Ravens, the most important criteria for his next endeavor was that it be relational—and not require sitting at a desk all day. With a collegiate background in finance and construction management, starting up a commercial contracting company in his home state of Maine was the perfect fit. 

“This job gives me the opportunity to interface with virtually every kind of person there is, from subcontractors and vendors to architects, interior designers, brokers and investment groups,” Ballantyne says. “It’s a people-driven business, and the quality of a project reflects the quality of each relationship involved.”

To that end, Optimum Construction spends an inordinate amount of time making itself available to stakeholders and genuinely getting to know them. That approach extends to projects as well, in the sense that it’s not all about the building so much as ensuring everyone wins. And wins are measured in perfectly square corners, profitability and, most of all, quality of life for clients and subcontractors.

“We want our employees, vendors and subcontractors to have balanced lives and invest in their own relationships outside the working day,” Ballantyne says. “Happy people work harder and produce better results. The side effect is excellent work that is on time and on budget.”

Honesty is top priority as well. Ballantyne holds himself to a pretty stringent ethical standard, even if it means sharing information that hurts the company. Sincerity and integrity must be modeled to earn trust, something he and his business partner Ryan Lessard learned as they faced the challenges of starting Optimum Construction six years ago. In making mistakes and performing certain jobs with their own bare hands, they really got to know their business and how to paint an accurate picture of their capabilities for clients.

For Ballantyne and Lessard, “this is the way it has always been done” is never an excuse. “It’s a lot easier to maintain the status quo, but we hustle toward innovation on a daily basis. We are not afraid to try new things and modernize our approach. It’s a constant pursuit for us.”