RDI And The Need To Diversify: A Small Business Story

construction crew at site
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When the going gets tough, Russell Sheffield diversifies.

The affable Mississippi businessman got his start in the construction business three decades ago. His company, Sheffield Construction, has been a mainstay in northeast Mississippi and western Alabama, building residential homes in both states.

Gradual changes in the housing market in the 1990’s accelerated significantly in the 2000’s, and the home construction business changed with it. While Sheffield still runs his construction company, he now owns a second business, one that departs drastically from the business he spent 30 years building.

This company, RDI Corporation, offers portable toilets for job sites, heated and cooled bathroom trailers for major functions like weddings, and roll off containers for construction debris. RDI also creates precast septic systems and areobic systems, installs and services these systems. All these systems are in demand, Sheffield said.

“I bought a roll-off and people started calling. That’s where it all started from,” he recalls. “Being versatile is what it’s all about.”

Sheffield has managed to remain profitable and popular with his customers because of that versatility in his offerings, at least in part. But what he believes really separates RDI and Sheffield Construction from competitors is the customer service, which he instills in every employee. In every office in his company’s headquarters, a sign hangs that reminds employees that ‘there is no limit to what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit.’

“It is service. We’re not the cheapest game around. We know that. But when our people call, we respond. Twenty-four-seven, it doesn’t matter,” Sheffield said.

As his business has grown, he’s needed equipment to keep up with the burgeoning demand. Sheffield said he has been working with Direct Capital for financing for a while now alongside finance manager Edward O’Donnell, who has a high opinion of the small business owner. Sheffield said O’Donnell has been helpful and available whenever he’s been needed, and as someone who champions customer service, those are values he appreciates.

“Any time you can get up and go to work and help somebody with their own situation, that’s gotta be a good day and a rewarding situation, even though we all have problems and we all have obstacles to get by,” Sheffield said.

Today, he has about 30 full-time employees and another 40-50 contractors working at both companies. As his businesses thrive, Sheffield hopes other small businesses looking to get ahead take his simple advice, advice that is informed by his own success.

“You gotta always be looking forward. Get outside the box,” Sheffield said. “Look, see what’s out there, see what you can do. There’s always something.”

To learn more about the company, call 662-329-2520 or e-mail Sheffield at trs@rdicom.net.

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