As the Founder and President of Foster Design Build, located in Chicago, Illinois, Robert Berg has pushed the company from one success to the next. From historic restorations, to gut renovations, to custom homes and remodels, each project is noteworthy for precise attention to detail. Back in 2015, Robert was one of the home builders that was championing environmentally friendly building methods. As a member of the US Green Council Chicago Chapter, he ensured that the company changed its strategic direction to one focused on environmental sustainability. This move saw the company cut costs for the clients, by passing the benefits of environmental tax credits on to them. The success of Foster Design Build is also evident in the recognition that the company has received under Robert’s leadership. Currently in 2020, the company has been recognized as one of the top 10 homebuilders in Chicago. In a ranking done by Home Builder Digest, Foster Design Build emerged 9th. One key factor: the company was ranked highly for its excellent customer service. Robert has also overseen a number of high-end property developments in the Chicago area that have significantly contributed to raising the company’s profile. Despite his demanding career, Robert has an active family life and social life. He is always in touch with his friends and enjoys a round of golf with them on weekends. Robert brings his high energy to all facets of his life.
Where did the idea for Foster Design Build come from?
From a very young age, I was passionate about real estate. While in college, I started doing gigs at construction companies and this gave me an idea of how the industry works. I used this knowledge as a springboard to launch my own business, and Foster Design Build was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day involves lots of meetings with our clients in the morning. I then leave the office in the afternoon to check up on our various projects, just to make sure that everything is in order. To make my day productive, I use communication apps like WhatsApp and Skype. They help me keep in touch with clients and employees from anywhere. I use Skype a lot. This saves on the time I would spend in the office holding back-to-back physical meetings.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The success of Foster Design Build is based on teamwork. Anytime I have an idea, I run it through the team and we analyze it together. If it makes sense, we move to the implementation phase.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am very excited about A.I. I believe that in the next few years, it will be instrumental in coming up with revolutionary home designs and other innovations.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I wake up very early in the morning. This routine helps me organize my day better by getting most of the important work done before I get to the office.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would advise my younger self to surround himself with people who share his goals and aspirations in life. The people you hang out with have a huge bearing on your progress in life.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Robotics will change the Real Estate industry. Most of my friends think it’s a long way off, but we have already seen 3D printing slowly change aspects of the industry.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I am always on the lookout for opportunities within the industry. Every entrepreneur should do the same. Complacency is the biggest risk to entrepreneurs’ dreams.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Focusing on delivering the best quality possible for our clients. This strategy has helped me win customer trust, and grown our market share.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I once pumped money into an overhyped stock in the hopes of making a kill. I burned my fingers and learned that the best route to success is to focus on what you know best and, in my case, that is Real Estate.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
To be honest, none. If I had one, I would be working on it, not giving it away.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Three weeks ago, I met a homeless young man, and we happened to have a chat. He told me of his dreams to start a business. I gave him some advice on how to structure his ideas, then gave him a $100 to get started on the basics. His face brightened up and it was the best feeling I have had in a while.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. It is a useful book on how to build a company that can last for generations.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is, “Always deliver more than expected.”, by Larry Page. It reminds of the power of superior customer service.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.