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A Day in the Life of a Seller-Doer, Travis McCoy

­Travis McCoy, PE, LEED AP, Managing Director at Schaefer, has designed new buildings, renovated existing buildings for new uses and planned multiuse developments for the single and multi-family housing market. He is an experienced structural engineer working with most types of materials, but has become an authority in wood design. Travis opened Schaefer’s Phoenix office almost two years ago and is doing it all as a seller-doer. Check out the inside scoop below!

What does the typical day look like for you?

During the day, I’m a seller-doer, active in the A/E/C community and a really good structural engineer passionate about delivering structures that enhance our community. Depending on the day, my time could be split between working on projects, performing site visits, meeting with clients & colleagues, attending networking events, collaborating with coworkers, writing proposals, building design aids, or overseeing miscellaneous office-related items.

How long have you worked for Schaefer and how did you end up in the dual role you’re currently in?

I’ve worked for Schaefer my whole career, starting 12 years ago as a co-op student, and almost 11 years ago as a full-time structural engineer in the firm’s Ohio office, located in Cincinnati. My wife and I had talked about moving out of the Midwest for years, but it wasn’t until about three years ago when we decided to go for it. We knew we wanted somewhere far from home and completely different from what we were used to, choosing a place that fit our lives first, and then figured out work second. We visited multiple cities out west and narrowed it down to Denver and Phoenix. We chose the hot over the cold and Phoenix’s cost of living. When I shared the exciting news with my firm, I asked if they wanted to open an office there; while I was leaving the city behind, I still believed Schaefer to be a great place to work, and I wasn’t ready to give it up. After Schaefer did its due diligence, we agreed that I would start off as a remote employee, and after about four months, we opened an official office downtown. At that point, I amped up my networking and relationship building, looking to become a part of our community and to put my own mark on it. So, that began my dual role.  

Can you tell us about your dual role and what you’ve learned so far?

I’ve been a doer my whole career, but transitioning to a seller-doer role in the past two years has been very exciting. What I was trying to do, and what ended up leading to a seller-doer mini-breakdown, was to be a full-time doer and a full-time seller thinking that if I just worked more hours, I could succeed at both. It turned into a daily battle of where to spend my time, being burnt out, and feeling like I was one wrong move from screwing it all up. Then, at a training session, it finally clicked that I couldn’t do it all, and I prioritized my duties to set myself up for long term success. It took time to figure out what the word balance meant for me, but becoming a seller-doer has been one of the coolest parts of opening a new office, and has been an opportunity that I probably wouldn’t have taken advantage of in our Cincinnati office.

I wear a lot of hats I never thought I would as a structural engineer. I’ve experienced more personal growth in these past two years than I have in any other period of my career. What I once swore I would never do because I was too shy and afraid has become what I do on a regular basis. I went from being a project manager with some additional overhead responsibilities to touching every aspect of the business including networking with rooms full of strangers, turning those strangers into contacts, turning contacts into potential clients, winning projects, designing projects, delegating work, and collaborating with our marketing, HR and accounting teams.

What advice do you give to those who haven’t dabbled in business development much?

It’s definitely a way to elevate your career. In general, if you can be a lead/revenue generator within your firm, you are going to be considered more valuable than the version of you that just did the work. I started in business development because I had to - if I didn’t, there was no Phoenix office. In Cincinnati, I turned down every business development opportunity that I was presented with because I was scared and didn’t know how to interact with people in that setting. I still get nervous prior to some events, but I’ve become more comfortable with being uncomfortable and going with the flow.

I can now look back and see that I’ve been a part of several project opportunities because I attended an event and developed a relationship that lead to being connected with someone else who had an opportunity. Had I not gone to the event, someone else would’ve gotten that opportunity. There are so many instances of opportunities and connections that were created by seemingly coincidental paths. The key for me is getting out there while still balancing structural engineering and my personal life.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

I enjoy bringing value to someone else. That could mean coming up with a creative solution for a client, mentoring a coworker or connecting two colleagues that might not have otherwise been connected.

Travis McCoy, PE, LEED AP
Managing Director, Schaefer

Travis has been in the A/E/C industry for 10 years and has spent his entire career at Schaefer. He has been an active member of SMPS for a little over a year and is on the hospitality committee. Travis enjoys exercising, health, nutrition, meditating, biohacking, weekend vacations, enjoying life with his wife and dog, and occasionally going down the YouTube rabbit hole.

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