Charles Lee: Concrete Ambition
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
ANTIOCH — In his former career as a restaurateur, Charles Lee made a name for himself by building restaurants from the ground up. What he didn’t realize, however, is that this vocation would later serve as the catalyst for an entirely new livelihood. “Having been involved with several restaurant construction projects, I had seen how a lot of contractors worked and often wasn’t particularly pleased with their services,” he explains. “Finally, I decided to try my own hand at it. I got some commercial real estate property, demolished everything and built it from the ground up, starting with the foundation. I found the process very interesting and I really enjoyed the work, so I decided to put my talents to use and start a concrete company.”
After several years in the concrete business, Charles decided to widen his professional prospects and got his contractor’s license in 2005. Today, as owner of California Concrete – Pump Pros, he says he continues to enjoy the process of creating something out of nothing. “It’s a lot of fun to build something new from the ground up, and it’s very rewarding to see the fruits of my labor when the project is completed.”
Having grown up in San Francisco, Charles says his favorite aspect of life in the Bay Area is the diversity of its populous. “The people make this area what it is. We work from San Jose to as far north as Napa, and the variety of people we have the privilege to meet makes our job that much more pleasurable.”
Charles’ career takes up the bulk of his schedule—“Right now I’m working seven days a week!” he says—so most of his time outside of work is devoted to his three children: Alicia, Kristin and Tyson. “As a single parent, my kids are the love of my life. My oldest is 23 and my youngest is eight, so I have quite a spread.” Charles describes most of the family’s activities as being aquatic in nature. “My kids grew up near the Delta, so they all love the water. If we’re not out on a fishing or boating excursion, you’re likely to find us in the swimming pool at home.”
In his life and career, Charles espouses the importance of attention to detail. “Something I tell my kids is to always take time to do things correctly the first time—that way, you won’t have to come back and revisit it later. This is the same philosophy I apply to my business, and it goes a long way toward keeping customers satisfied with our work.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Charles says he’d take a long-deferred vacation. “I haven’t been on vacation in many, many years. In fact, I have more than a million frequent flyer miles that I don’t have time to use. If I could retire tomorrow, I’d do some traveling with the kids…maybe rent an RV and try some new fishing spots.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Do you have a favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco Giants and 49ers.
Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Talk radio.
Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: House of Prime Rib in San Francisco.
Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: My Big Wheel tricycle. My sisters used to pull me around on it with a rope and whip me around corners like I was water skiing. It was a lot of fun.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
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