Episode #143:
Systems to Successfully Scale with Theresa Ream

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Heart-centered business owner, Theresa Ream, joins host, Caterina Rando, for an information-packed episode you won’t want to miss! The two long-time business leaders sit down to discuss all things systems in order to scale multi-million-dollar businesses. Theresa also shares her guiding principles for wearing your heart all over in business leadership and why doing so has cultivated teams that have stuck with her for decades!

Theresa Ream is the founder of several multimillion-dollar businesses known as the Ream Companies and has over 42 years of business success. She is known as the largest minority woman owned restoration company on the central coast and beyond. The Ream Companies include Disaster Kleenup Specialists, FRSTeam, Flooring America’s Floor Store USA, and Cypress Design & Build.


Theresa is also the founder of Feminine W.I.L.E.S lifestyle business consultants, and her passion is helping established CEOs and entrepreneurs. She utilizes her strong organizational, financial, marketing, and nurturing skills to help women eliminate overwhelm and get clarity in their businesses by coaching them in systems, marketing, and building happy teams. Theresa believes you must build the woman to build the business.Theresa is also skilled in running multigenerational family-owned businesses. She’s been honored as Best Woman Owned Business on the Monterey Peninsula and Best Minority Owned Business of Monterey along with being named The Woman of the Year by The Professional Women’s Network of Monterey.
Theresa is a community leader, speaker, best-selling author, blogger, writer (as a business expert) for Marketing, Media & Money Magazine, podcast guest, Host of The Professional Women’s Network Ask the Expert podcast, as well as the current Marketing Director of the Professional Women’s Network of the Monterey and PWN National.

When Theresa is not serving in her business and community, she is an avid reader, traveler, loves bootcamp-style workouts and riding her bike, and is happily raising and homeschooling her 12-year-old grandson, Cash, with her husband Terry.

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Expand Your Fempire Podcast #143 Transcript


Systems to Successfully Scale with Theresa Ream


Welcome to Expand your Fempire with Caterina Rando, the podcast for women in business on a mission. Sharing ideas to support you to grow and thrive. Now here’s your host, Caterina Rando.

[00:00:00] Caterina Rando: Welcome back to another episode of the Expand Your Fempire Podcast. I’m your host, Caterina Rando, and I am blissing to be with you today. We have the most fabulous, super smart, super successful guest. You are going to want to hear every single word she shares. Theresa Ream is the founder of several multi million dollar businesses that have been in business for over 42 years.

[00:00:59] She’s a community leader, speaker, blogger, of course, best selling author, business expert, magazine contributor, and president of the Professional Women’s Network of Monterey. She has so much vitality. She has so much bliss in her business. Theresa, tell everybody, how did you get started on your entrepreneurial journey?

[00:01:28] Theresa Ream: Thank you Catearina. I’m so thrilled to be here. Well, it came about when I was probably about 14 years old. I noticed a restoration contractor in our area, and when people would have fires or floods, he would be out on their porch holding their hands, telling them everything would be okay, and then he would rebuild their homes.

[00:01:50] And he would fix them up and everyone would be happy. And he was a hero in his community. So I would stalk him. I would literally like go in the bushes, watch what he was doing. And I later met my husband and a couple of years later, I was 16. And, after we got married we started our first business, which was contracting, building contracting and lo and behold, one night, a drunk driver ran through our living room in the middle of the night and he had one of those big old Cadillacs with the fins, you know, those huge Cadillacs and he jumps out and he goes, “it’s okay, I’m your neighbor.”

[00:02:23] And we’re like, “no, it’s not okay. Your car is in the middle of our living room.” and then the next day, an insurance adjuster, I remember his name clearly, even though it was 40 years ago Jose Trujillo came and he looked at our damage. And then he said, “what do you do?” And I said, “we’re building contractors.”

[00:02:38] And he said, “Do you do reconstruction for for fire or water damaged homes?” And I said, “Absolutely.” Well, we didn’t yet.

[00:02:49] So he gave us a job to look at the next week. And We went out, take a look at it, and I called him up, and he says, “How do you want this bid? I need it on a computer.” Well, in the 80s, we didn’t have computers. So I typed it all, and then I realized, oh my gosh, he’s going to see the print, the typing prints on the back.

[00:03:06] So I made copies, and I made it room by room like he wanted, and gave it to him. He said, great, gave us our first job. Off we went running into the reconstruction business. And that was our first chance to do my childhood dream.

[00:03:20] Caterina Rando: I love that, Theresa, I love that. Now, okay, that was your reconstruction company.

[00:03:26] However, I know you got a few companies. Tell me and our listeners, what other companies you have and why you got into those different other sectors.

[00:03:36] Theresa Ream: Well, after about 10 years of doing the reconstruction of homes, a man came to us and he was a little bit flaky, but he knew how to take care of the damage on the inside of the home.

[00:03:48] And I said, “let’s hire him. We can learn from him.” And then, you know what happens. And so, he taught us about it and he was flaky and then another man came to us and he wanted a job and he was just going to dig ditches. And we looked at him and we said, “Jesse, you’re amazing. You have this huge heart. We want you to head up our mitigation division.” And he said, “Oh my goodness.” So he came aboard. We are celebrating his 30 years with us this year. And it was 30 years.

[00:04:22] Then another man came to us and he, my whole life is serendipitous. Another man came and he said “you know, I designed kitchens. Why don’t you hire me and open up a a cabinet store?” And we said, “well, we don’t do things like that.” And he goes, “well, come on, let’s do it.” And so we did, we built a cabinet store and he was amazing. He designed two kitchens in the white house. And he was just an amazing designer. And the same with flooring.

[00:04:49] A man came and he said, “Hey, you do a lot of flooring for your business. Why not open up your own flooring store?” And so off we went and we didn’t know what to name it. So I said, “let’s just call it the floor store.” And now we’re a flooring America floor store. To this day.

[00:05:03] Caterina Rando: That’s wonderful. Now, but you have another new division too, I think, don’t you?

[00:05:08] Theresa Ream: We just opened that and it’s called First Team and that does mostly the soft contents. So if we went, all their things in your closet, stuffed animals, we, we reclaim those, make them look just like new. We bought all kinds of equipment to do that. And so we’re doing that part. We have that division also.

[00:05:28] Caterina Rando: And that’s like after a fire or a flood or something like that. . Wonderful. Okay. Teresa,, you know, you and I have known each other for a while now. And of course, I’m amazed at how you run all these big, amazing companies. What are some of the guiding principles by which you run your business?

[00:05:47] Theresa Ream: Well, the first principle is The heart, and you say this all the time, I think that’s why we’re a good match, Caterina. . You say you wear your heart, all over your business, yes, and that’s what we do, we hire people with a heart.  They can come and they can know everything about certain things, but if they don’t have a heart, Then we do not hire them because we send these people into homes that that’s it’s a tragedy to them.

[00:06:17] They’ve lost everything. Some have lost pets. Some have lost their loved ones in the fire. We also do trauma cleans. So we go in after suicides. We know we have to know how to talk and be with the loved ones while we’re cleaning up their homes.

[00:06:32] It’s a big deal. We have to have a certain kind of people work for us and to build that team around a family centered heart type business. That’s what’s pushed us forward all these years.

[00:06:46] Caterina Rando: Well, you know, you mentioned about your, one of your early employees, and I know that you have a great team and I know that many of your employees have been with you for two decades, three decades.

[00:07:01] My hunches is that if you have a good person, you feel that you can move them into a new role. Say a little bit about your team development and how you run your organization because the fact that so many of your employees are with you for so long must speak to your leadership.

[00:07:22] Theresa Ream: What we’ve done is we’ve set up teams in all of our businesses, whether they be construction, fire, water, the environmental we do on best asbestos abatement.

[00:07:36] We set them up the same. The teams are all the same in our cabinet store everywhere. That way, we can scale our business. And these teams work together. We have an admin part of the team. We have an estimator, the salesperson. We have the person that actually is a foreman on the job. And then it goes down from there within the teams.

[00:07:57] The technicians and such. So everything has to have a system set up and that makes it easier for our employees too that each team is the same and they can mentor each other.

[00:08:09] Caterina Rando: And that’s part of the job of the team is to have everybody learn as much as they can in all the roles. Is that right or no?

[00:08:18] Theresa Ream: In the role in the roles of their division. Yes. And of course we cross train too because we get very large jobs where we have to have a small army out on them. So we do train our employees too. So the systems are the heart of the business. You know, it said that the, the systems run the business and the employees run the systems.

[00:08:39] And that’s how the company needs to be set up.

[00:08:44] Caterina Rando: And Teresa, I know you’re very big on systems. I love that about you. Let me ask you this. Why do you think your employees are with you for so long? You have such great employee retention.

[00:08:57] Theresa Ream: Well, we treat them like people, not like employees.

[00:09:04] So Terry and I, my husband and I my partner, We are down on their level. We’re not in the ivory tower. We are rubbing elbows with them. Now we don’t go out and do the mucky muck work anymore. We did it one time and it was fun, but we’re with them and they know we’re people just like them. And we are comrades with them.

[00:09:30] The other component is we try to build the individual. You know, my mission statement is build the individual, grow the individual, build the family, inspire the community and change the world.

[00:09:44] And we saw this from day one when we took people that really shouldn’t have been given jobs in some instances and saw their hearts.

[00:09:54] One guy I used to call and get him out of jail. This was back in the old day when you could call the jail and say, I have work for this guy. And I found out he was amazing. And you know what that man, he worked for us for like, he’s still a really good, good friend, him and his wife. He went on to be like a worldwide adjuster.

[00:10:14] So he’ll go to Taiwan, he’ll go to England, and he’ll adjust the jobs for the insurance companies. So we grew that individual from somebody that had no chance and we do, we try to, we try to bring that forward to all of our employees.

[00:10:29] Caterina Rando: That’s beautiful. My friend, for people that are listening that are not familiar with the term, what does an adjuster do?

[00:10:37] Theresa Ream: An adjuster adjusts your insurance claim. So he’ll come out and he’ll look at your job and he’ll write everything down that needs to be replaced. And then usually a contractor will do the same thing. And then the insurance adjuster goes and he adjusts your claim down to try to save the insurance company money in some cases.

[00:10:55] That’s their job. That’s why they’re called an adjuster. And some of them are just so delightful of people that we became friends with.

[00:11:02] Caterina Rando: What do you see, Theresa, next for the Ream Companies?

[00:11:08] Theresa Ream: I really believe that, you know, we do work in the Silicon Valley.

[00:11:13] But I see that growing already with taking, opening this new division with First Team and the soft contents mitigation. Our territory is in San Luis Obispo, so the territory is really growing and that’s where that duplication of teams, we know how to, they’re all run the same, will be such an easy transference of that.

[00:11:39] Caterina Rando: And what do you see next, Teresa, for you as a thriving woman in business?

[00:11:47] Theresa Ream: Well, I really have a heart for women. So, and you know, this came from my grandmother. I sat on her lap. She told me all the stories about Pennsylvania coal mines and how she would protect the women from the husbands that may have came home grumpy from the coal mines.

[00:12:07] And, you know, sometimes they weren’t very nice and she would protect them. And I thought that was the best thing in the world. I would listen. And I’d have her tell the same stories over and over. And that’s when I, five or six years old, I was already an advocate for women. My mother, she had so many hardships growing up with alcoholic parents and how she thrived and came forward.

[00:12:30] On each side, I had my father’s mother telling me the coal mining stories and I had my mother. That was one of the people that would travel up and down in the central valleys picking, so they would live in their cars. You see pictures of them in tent cities and things like that. So I had two women from each side of my family, strong women telling me stories of triumph that women did like my mother started her first business at 18 years old.

[00:12:59] She was brown. Brown women didn’t start businesses. We found out later that we had some Nigerian in us. And so she really worked hard in 1938 to start a business at 18. And it was still thriving by the time I was married and away from home. She had that business.

[00:13:22] Caterina Rando: What type of business was it?

[00:13:24] Theresa Ream: She had a dog kennel where she would board all of Monterey’s animals and we knew so many people that would come. She also trimmed poodles just so beautifully with her pom poms. She’d paint their nails. She’d spray on a puff of perfume and a little bow and she was well, well loved in the Monterey County by so many.

[00:13:45] Caterina Rando: That’s wonderful. Theresa, tell me one thing you learned about business from your mom.

[00:13:52] Theresa Ream: I learned that she just got down in her hands and built it and that’s what we did. We got down, it was scary, we didn’t know what we were doing a lot of times, but we went forward and we did it and we got our hands dirty and we worked long hours and we took calls in the middle of the night when roofs would blow off and we’d have to go out and start a crew to put, you know, Board up their roof and the different things.

[00:14:21] And that was just like, so exciting to, to do that. But my mother’s hard work and watching how she thrived in her business by just one foot in front of the other really taught me to do that one foot in front of the other.

[00:14:36] Caterina Rando: It sounds like too, you say yes. And then you figure it out.

[00:14:40] Theresa Ream: Absolutely. And that’s the fun part. That’s the fun part. You really kind of get to make it up as you go. And pretty soon you’re there and you’ve arrived.

[00:14:50] Caterina Rando: Theresa, I know that I, as you said, you want to make a difference for women. Now, I believe that there’s another chapter for you for supporting women in business coming next. Do you want to say a little bit about that?

[00:15:07] Theresa Ream: Yes, I’m starting a mentoring business where I go in and consult women in business, usually women who have an established business where they, they need some guidance.

[00:15:19] You know, we talked a little bit earlier and one of my mottos is why aren’t we living our vision board? Many years ago and I still have them in this, I still have them as my vision boards from 40 years ago. And they look exactly like that. Then I did another one about 15 years ago, and now my life looks exactly like that.

[00:15:40] So why aren’t we living our vision boards? A lot of us make them.

[00:15:44] Caterina Rando: Well, Theresa, it sounds like you’re living your vision board and that’s a speech I want you to give, how to live your vision board or how to create the life on your vision board. What do you think about that?

[00:15:55] Theresa Ream: That would be super fun to do too.

[00:15:58] Caterina Rando: What do you think, Theresa let’s talk a little bit about leadership qualities. Because if I was to talk about you, I would say, which I’m always happy to do, you absolutely wear your heart all over your business as you have shared. What other leadership qualities do you feel have contributed to your success in business?

[00:16:25] Theresa Ream: I think a big one is reading people. A lot of time a business owner will get caught up in it’s done this way. Well, we’re the ones doing it that way, not necessarily the other 7 billion people in the world. So we really have to look at what they want. There should be no cookie cutter client. And that’s what I see a lot of businesses getting caught up in.

[00:16:52] They become very proud that they’ve made this. And then they don’t deviate and grow from it and learn from what their clients really want and what their employees want so you can build a really nice team.

[00:17:06] Caterina Rando: It sounds like you’re always open to what your employees or other vendors that you’re working with. It sounds like you’re very open to the opportunities that they might bring you or the ideas they bring you to really help your business flourish more. Would you say that’s true?

[00:17:26] Theresa Ream: Yes, because you know, you can learn from everyone. And so many of us have turned off our learning abilities. Now we may learn in certain areas, we can have tunnel vision on our learning and be really good at learning different areas.

[00:17:41] But The person that walks up to you anywhere can teach you something and if you can be open to that and let down that mindset that you have and, and take what they have in, this is what I do, I listen to them, I take it in, I process it, I kind of make it my own and then out it comes. It’s a real, it’s a real exchange of this energy from one person to the other and it works really well.

[00:18:10] Caterina Rando: And your natural way of being a lifelong learner, would you say that’s contributed to your continued success?

[00:18:22] Theresa Ream: Yes, because it doesn’t, you know, people can get stale. Again, we can all raise our hands with a we’ve been staler with somebody really pops out is pretty stale. And there’s no reason for that. If we keep moving more things are added to us, and we get more experiences just like with with the professional women’s network when everything shut down in 2021 I took over as president for this four years.

[00:18:50] It was something that I had to do to like, I thought, well, let’s invite women all over the country. And let’s build this. And that’s what I did. I’m a stalker. Look at, I stalked that, that contractor when I was 14. Women, I just see them. I think they’re amazing. I’ll go after them to be friends, to get them on our podcast.

[00:19:10] What, whatever we can do on that. And just like meeting women in Pennsylvania. I have lifelong friends in Pennsylvania in your group and in San Francisco and throughout and just the openness of opening that up. I have more friends now than I ever have had before the pandemic.

[00:19:32] Caterina Rando: Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that one of the beautiful things? One of the beautiful gifts of the pandemic? Yay! Theresa, you have so much value to bring. You just mentioned your podcast. Let’s let everybody know, how can they connect with you? Anything you want to share with our listeners before we begin to wrap up?

[00:19:55] Theresa Ream: Well, the best way is to go on linkedin.com/theresa ream. You can go to my website, disastercleanup.Com. And then if you want to learn more about the professional women’s network, you can go to PWNmonterey.Org.

[00:20:11] Caterina Rando: Wonderful. And we’ll put all these links in the show notes, everybody. If you want to connect with Theresa and Theresa, they can also reach out to you on Facebook. I know you’re miss Facebook, like me. Okay. Now, Theresa, before we wrap up our time together, any final advice you have for our listeners who want to be like you, they want to live their vision board, they want to create a multi million dollar company. What else do we want them to know before we wrap up?

[00:20:42] Theresa Ream: I think the most important thing is know your dream. And a lot of times we don’t know what our dream was. I was fortunate enough at age 14 to realize what one of my dreams were. Sometimes we have to go back a little bit and think about what our dream is.

[00:21:00] And then when you do have your dream, create those systems that are going to take that business off and not have you work so hard.

[00:21:09] So know your dream and then set your systems. And then also you have put great people in place. Absolutely.

[00:21:19] Without a team, it’s really hard to grow to the places that you, you need to grow both financially and in terms of your freedom. You don’t want to be tied down to a business constantly. So that’s one of the things I can help with.

[00:21:36] Caterina Rando: Theresa, you know, I’m always blissing to be with you. It’s always a privilege. You’re one of those people where you always feel more uplifted when you wrap up a visit than when you showed up.

[00:21:48] Thank you. And let’s remind everybody. Listener, guess what? Theresa, This podcast, Expand Your Fempire, myself, we want you to thrive, we got a lifetime supply of value for you. Because we want to support you come to a free workshop, stay connected, get connected to our amazing thriving women in business community. We’ve got a lifetime supply of more value for you here. And join us again on another episode of the expand your fempire podcast.

[00:22:23] Bing, bing, bing.

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Expand Your Fempire with Caterina Rando.

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