How Transformed an Industry: The Blueprint of Success - The Texas Developer

Who says contracting is just about swinging hammers and managing job sites? Meet Amer Abu Shakra and Patrick Lalonde, the business minds behind With decades of experience in the industry, these two have taken lessons learned from the trenches of construction dust and transformed them into a multimillion-dollar blueprint for success.

“Most contractors that end up running a remodeling business start off on the tools and then get flooded with work due to their good reputation,” Amer notes. In other words, successful contractors combine fundamental business skills with their contracting knowledge; it’s never about one skill. This was one of the earliest lessons he learned from his mentor, Michael Holley.

Amer’s journey into contracting began at 17 under Holley’s wing in Toronto. His unique approach to business, which emphasizes hiring, marketing, and management, inspired Amer. “He dominated the neighborhoods he was in, not because he was the cheapest, but because he knew how to run a business,” Amer explains. When Holley moved across the country, he advised Amer to join the Student Works Management Program (SWMP), a decision that laid the foundation for Amer’s future successes. SWMP is a hands-on entrepreneurial organization that works exclusively with aspiring business students to help them learn practical skills by guiding them as they run their own contracting business; they are an incredible organization that deserves their own article.

Through SWMP, Amer honed his business skills and built a contracting business that thrived on efficiency and strong management, growing to over 5 crews, with a foreman, and a sales rep in one summer. Despite his rapid success, Amer felt a tug of responsibility to his community and the industry. “I was surrounded by incredible mentors who showed me the ropes. It made me think, how could I pass on this knowledge to help others?” he shares.

This sense of duty led to a chance meeting with Patrick Lalonde on a white-water rafting trip. Patrick, then a major executive at SWMP, had helped scale the business to a $29 million franchise. Their shared vision to empower contractors was what started “We wanted to create a system where contractors could step away for a week and return to a business that had grown in their absence,” Patrick says. has two missions: they aim to educate every contractor in North America on business management so that they can pass the “fishing test”—being able to take a vacation without business hiccups. Secondly, they want to refine their business methods to eventually consult privately.
“We would work with a contractor stuck on the tools, working evenings and weekends without the right employees, and we would give him our systems and guidance to get off the tools. He gets to make more money and have more time for family, and we get to make our system better and faster at getting results by learning from the experience,” Amer explains.

The company boasts impressive results: “We’ve helped hundreds of contractors go from owning a job to owning a business, working ON the business vs. just stuck IN it,” Amer proudly states. Their method involves professionalizing online hiring practices, fine-tuning the recruitment process, and putting systems in place to ensure a business can thrive independently of its owner.

There are many success stories from’s clients. Jonathan, a father of two, reduced his 70-hour work weeks to take a month-long vacation with his family while his business continued to grow. Ronald, a contractor with eleven kids, overhauled his management structure with their help, landing a lucrative contract with Home Depot to install hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cabinets.

As they reach 1,000 contractors, Amer and Patrick continue to improve their approach, proving that contracting businesses can do more than survive; they can flourish with the right systems in place and support.