Getting to Know You: Kenneth Watterworth, Westport, CT
As a business owner, Kenneth Watterworth has spent the last 40 years working in the city of Westport, CT. A professional commercial painter for much of that time, he has recently devoted his time to growing his fireproofing company, Pro-Tect, Inc. A role that allows him to interact and support not just a single project, but rather all of the long-term integrity of the structures in Westport.
Born and raised in Westport, Connecticut, Kenneth spent his formative years at Boston College where he excelled in math, especially statistics.
In his academic career, Kenneth Watterworth initially earned a BA in Business Administration and Finance. In 1977, Kenneth made the decision to start his own business, Ken Watterworth Inc.
A perennial optimist, Kenneth Watterworth is also a businessman with a well-defined philosophy. It is his firm belief that the work done has a profound impact on the success of the city. Kenneth’s overall approach is designed to provide leadership that fosters a safe, supportive, and inclusive community, contributing to the success of the city as a whole.
What do you currently do at your organization?
For a long time, I was a commercial painter, and I loved it. There’s just something about being outside and completing projects that filled me with joy and hope for the future.
Recently, though, I have begun a new role as the full-time CEO of Pro-Tect, which is a more expansive role. Instead of being charged with a single project, my purview is now every project our company is involved in, sometimes multiple projects at one time. My duties are varied. I spend some days observing job sites and giving technicians feedback about what I see. I spend other days in various instructional meetings and discussions about different aspects of fireproofing improvement. There are days I have to manage a crisis, but thankfully those days are relatively rare. As you might imagine, a crisis involving a project that is behind schedule or over budget can be challenging and demand more time than some of my other responsibilities. And it’s totally impossible to anticipate events like that ahead of time, so I have to come in mentally prepared for anything every day. It’s an interesting job and I’m enjoying it a lot.
What defines your way of doing business?
If I had to point to one thing, it would be collaboration. I’m a big believer in soliciting feedback from all parties involved in the educational process; real estate owners, project managers, employees, and sometimes even just ordinary members of the community. It’s important for everyone to know that their input is welcomed and valued. And while the job site may not always implement every suggestion from its stakeholders, everyone is always aware that they are a part of the decision-making process on everything from changes in the process to changes in the project’s operational policies.
What keys to being productive can you share?
Personally, I find that I’m at my most productive when I leave my office and explore the project. There’s a lot to be gained by interacting with the technicians and staff during the course of their day-to-day activities. I learn a lot that way. In that vein, I also try to be present and visible from start to finish. Beyond that, I visit various meetings throughout the day to experience the industry dynamics, as well as discover new opportunities for our business to grow. Authentic interactions like these help me to understand more about the industry as a whole.
Tell us one long-term goal in your career.
In the near term, it is my hope to assume the growth of our company and industry as a whole. This includes all new construction projects implementing a fireproofing plan in their design.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
I am a member of a number of church and community groups. This allows me to stay in touch with my spirituality, as well as interact with members of my community. Being involved in the community has given me the opportunity to gain a number of influential relationships that have positively influenced my life every day.
How do you measure success?
I measure my success based on how effectively I am able to balance work/life. I enjoy spending time with my children and also want to leave a positive legacy for them. That is why building my company is also important to me. Success is being able to put work on hold and enjoy time with your family.
What advice would you give to aspiring to succeed in your field?
Network as much as possible. Career growth in construction and fireproofing is about the professional relationships you are able to develop. Once you are able to build up your name and professional reputation, you are able to develop more trust and new opportunities will present themselves. The first years out of college are always tough. You really have to prove that you are able to successfully deliver on your promises. I would recommend that anyone who wants to be successful in project management, should focus on networking.
You can learn more about Kenneth Watterworth by visiting his official website. He can be contacted at his office in Westport, CT.