Coaching Team

Meet the Executive Coaches at the Association of Professional Builders.

Russ Stephens

Cofounder

Sky Stephens

Cofounder

Andy Skarda

Head Coach

Erik Cofield

Executive Coach

Clint Best

Executive Coach

Jacob Oelofse

Executive Coach

Dennis Wong

Executive Coach

Coach Credibility

Not all coaches are created equal, especially when it comes to guiding a custom home building company to victory…there are some things you simply can’t afford to learn as you go so consider this…

APB Coaching Team

Avoid Generalists

General business coaches who coach lawyers, dentists, trades and everything in between do not have the specific industry knowledge required to help you with your building company.

Accountants Are Not Coaches

Accountants are incredibly valuable. After all, they take care of your company financials, assist with tax preparation and organise your building company's accounts. However, accountants are not business coaches and do not have the ability to guide you through the rollercoaster of running a successful building company. Let your accountant and/or lawyer stick to what you contract them for and seek out an industry expert.

Review Their Track-Record

How many custom home builders like you have they really helped? Do they provide video success stories, written testimonials, Facebook reviews, Google reviews and the credibility to back it up?

Meet With Them

Before committing to any kind of 3 year plan with a coach, meet them online via a video meeting, like Zoom. Ensure they really understand your building company, what your unique challenges are, where you can improve and make sure you like each other.

Ensure They Challenge You

A good coach will never shy away from asking the tough questions. They are there to act as the unemotional investor that wants a return. They are there to challenge you and your thought process so that you transform into the business owner you need to be as your building company grows.

Ensure You Like Each Other

You’ll be spending at least a few years working together (running a building company is different to other businesses. The sales cycle is so long it can take 12+ months to see the change in gross profit from the work you do today.) so ensure you like your coach enough to meet with them regularly.

Be Honest With Yourself

Working with a great building industry-specific coach can only take you so far. Ensure you are ready to put in the work required to get the results you’ve read about. It will take discipline, time and energy. Not only that, it will force you to get uncomfortable in order to achieve great things. Ensure you’re ready for this type of challenge.

APB Coaching Team

Our Coaches

Russ Stephens

Russ Stephens

Gold Coast, QLD, Australia

If the accent didn’t give it away, my story starts in 1983 in South London, England. At the age of 19. I left my father’s retail business and started selling toiletries and household cleaning products to discount stores from the back of a van. 

By the turn of the century, the business was employing over 50 staff and was ranked number one in the country for productivity (revenue per employee) and ROI (return on capital invested) by Wholesaler magazine. 

The end goal was always to immigrate to Australia (for the weather, if I’m honest). So in 2005, we made the decision to sell our company, liquidate our assets and apply for residency in the lucky country. 

However, there was a slight problem, because in 2006 Australia wasn’t accepting investors into the country, regardless of how much money you had available to support yourself. What the government wanted were entrepreneurs who would set up businesses and create jobs, rather than investors that were only interested in relaxing on a beach and enjoying early retirement. 

What that meant was we could only enter on a skills visa or a business visa. Being an unskilled, ex-business owner, the latter was our only option. So we started looking for businesses to buy.

And just like England is known for being a nation of shopkeepers, it became apparent that Australia was a nation of builders and tradesmen.

So, the best option appeared to be to acquire a building company. And with that, I embarked on one of the most harrowing journeys I have ever experienced…

I ended up acquiring a custom home building company that specialised in designing and building high-end homes. It was a far cry from selling discounted toiletries! In the following years, I invested millions of dollars in order to learn hundreds if not thousands of lessons about running a construction company. I was fortunate, I had the reserves to pay for the mistakes being made by my team and myself. Most builders that start their own companies don’t have that luxury…

And then came the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). At that point it became virtually impossible to sign contracts on high-end homes. The banks were simply not lending, so we had to pivot quickly.

Calling on my 25 years of experience in business and combining that with the lessons that had been learned from owning my own building company, my daughter, Sky Stephens, and I looked to provide services to other residential home builders. 

From our own experience, we knew how to produce the systems builders needed, such as building contract proposals that looked professional and contained the key elements that progressed an opportunity into a sale. So we started sharing those systems and templates, covering contract preparation, period contract agreements, and safety documentation, with other builders.

The safety documentation business was the one that took off. However, it wasn’t a purchase that builders were excited to make! It was something they needed rather than wanted.

However, after each sale was made I kept talking to the builders and somehow the conversations always ended up on the topic of sales and marketing (which is what really excited them).

It was these conversations that led my daughter Sky Stephens and I to create a digital marketing agency for builders…

Read what unfolded over the next 5 years in order to launch the Association of Professional Builders here.

I live in the sunshine state of Australia on the Gold Coast with my wife. I have 2 grown kids (Sky and my son Kurt) and love motorsport. You’ll find me heading to the track to race most weekends.

Sky Stephens

Sky Stephens

Gold Coast, QLD, Australia

NAWIC  Top 100 Women 

I am a proud member of the The National Association of Women in Construction and the Top 100 Women in the broader construction sector. 

The traditional path had never interested me much. I was young when my family made the move from England to Australia, so I had to complete school here. 

I was accepted into a university course two years before completing high school and even completed a semester alongside high school as part of a new program. 

After high school, I went to university only to leave six weeks after starting. 

Personally, I couldn’t stand learning about business from a lecturer that had never owned a successful business or learning about marketing that was obviously 10 years out of date.

At about the same time my father Russ, had his business of safety documentation for builders. Russ wanted to transition into marketing services for builders as a few clients had asked for help and I sure needed something to do after leaving university.

Soon after, we started a marketing agency dedicated to the construction industry called ACRIS Services. Things went well and we grew that company year on year for almost 10 years. For a family-based business, we worked incredibly well together and I was in charge of operations: people, product, and processes… and I loved it.

This is when I realised I was pretty good with systems and breaking down complex procedures into simple and easy-to-understand modules for anyone to learn. I’d also only worked with building company owners, so over time I learned exactly how our clients operated and thought. I had even sold another business that we created that serviced builders by the time I was 19 years old. 

Now I help the owners of residential building companies implement proven systems into their businesses so they can grow and scale to a size they never thought they could. 

When Russ & I started the Association of Professional Builders we had 1 goal: to transform the residential construction industry for both builders and consumers. 

The plan was always to deliver the highest level of business coaching available to builders and deliver it to as many builders as possible. The professional builders will rise to the top and the ‘cowboys’ will eventually leave the industry. Now we help hundreds of builders across five countries and employ a team to help us with this mission.

I live on the sunny Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, close to my immediate family and friends, while the rest of my family still live in England.

Andy Skarda

Andy Skarda

Sydney, NSW, Australia

I’m an ex-attorney/solicitor who made the transition from law into business over 30 years ago. 

I was a director of a property development company while still in my 20s, and since then I have owned and led businesses in South Africa, the United States, South-East Asia, and for the last decade, Australia. For years I struggled to deal with the realities of building and running businesses effectively and profitably. 

Then I discovered the two fundamental things that separate successful companies from those that are headed for trouble. Firstly, that all businesses can be broken down into five manageable and functional disciplines.

And secondly, successful companies create or capture, and then develop and repeat, successful systems.

The desire to share those realisations took me down the road of becoming an Executive Coach. Now I help business owners in the building industry identify and implement the skills and systems they need to be successful, without needing to go back to school. Or more importantly, without going bust.

When I joined the Association of Professional Builders and examined their protocols and systems, it was evident that the results they were achieving with their clients were primarily because they had addressed the two fundamental issues I just mentioned. 

I have two grown sons, four growing granddaughters, I’m a passionate and vocal rugby union supporter, I love scuba diving in warm water, and deliberately falling out of perfectly serviceable aircraft from time to time.

Erik Cofield

Erik Cofield

Houston, TX, United States

I’m a Certified Graduate Associate with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a senior level business strategist, manager and revenue generator. 

I have provided management consulting services for custom home builders and remodelers of all sizes throughout my career.

My background includes being the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Houston’s most award-winning (at the time) design-build company, being on the board of the Remodelers Council, running the education department for The Greater Houston Builders Association and working for building software companies. This journey eventually led me to coaching custom home builders directly.

I am a strong believer in education and I feel that knowledge delivered objectively is what has helped me to resonate with hundreds of builders in over two decades in this industry. 

I’ve also published a book, Turn-101 Ways to Improve Your Business-NOW, that was carried by BuilderBooks at the International Builders Show (IBS) three years in a row.  

I’ve also written a monthly column for Home Builder Associations called Ask the Techspert and been an NAHB Approved Instructor for: Customer Service; Sales and Marketing; Introduction to Business Management; and The Certified New Home Sales Professional (CSP) Course.

Based in Texas, United States, I’ve joined the APB team to help transform the residential construction industry and reach more professional builders in North America.

Clint Best APB

Clint Best

Kelowna, BC, Canada

My professional career over the past 37 years has taken me around the world. Beginning in Canada, after graduating from business school, I managed several department store operations in Alberta and British Columbia before joining Duty-Free Shoppers (DFS) Group, the world’s largest travel retailer in 1995. I spent eight years with DFS Group, often involved in construction, and managing multiple locations with sales volumes up to $200,000,000 in Asia and the United States.

In each operation I participated in every aspect of the business including operations, merchandising, vendor relations, human resources, business development, sales and marketing, budgeting, team development, and strategic planning. I helped develop and open new businesses in Canada, Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam, and the United States. 

I purchased a business coaching and training franchise in 2002, where I was trained and certified by the world’s largest business coaching team and was eventually named the Canadian Coach of the Year in 2006, before leaving to form Kaizen Business Development in 2007. I have been successfully coaching business owners in Canada and the United States for 18 years now, and for the past three years, I have focused my practice specifically on residential building contractors. 
One of my long-held core values is continuous improvement. This principle recognises that there is rarely one answer or solution to our personal and business development problems. In order to be successful, individuals and organisations must be open to learning and making incremental changes and improvements all the time. 
In my 19 years in business and 18 years of guiding business owners, I have studied, practiced, and learned how important self-awareness and personal responsibility are in getting the results we want in our businesses and our lives. That, coupled with simplifying business fundamentals and developing new habits, will make the difference between life on a treadmill and the life you really want and deserve. 
 
I was running my coaching company, primarily for contractors and builders, until January 2021 when the Association of Professional Builders acquired my company and I joined the team as an Executive Business Coach.
 
I currently live in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada with my wife Angie, and our two adult children Theo and Dia. 
APB Coach Jacob Oelofse

Jacob Oelofse

Sydney, NSW, Australia

My background includes creating and selling five companies in 12 years across different industries including manufacturing, agriculture, e-commerce, and government.

Ask me about my favorite entrepreneurial moment and it takes me back to being 13 years old selling live chickens with my father charging me for rent, water and electricity. I made good money for a small chicken farmer, however unfortunately my landlords moved so my business did not have a site to operate from anymore. 

From that first business, the principles have not changed that much. Many things require smart hard work, some things are just out of your control, but planning will lead to greater success in the future. Since this taste of entrepreneurship, I have moved on to creating much larger and more sustainable businesses and then coaching. 

Specifically, I enjoy stakeholder relations, financials and risk, sustainability, growth, marketing, and maximising profit margins in a company.

I sold my last company at the end of 2019 in order to move my family from South Africa to Sydney, Australia in January 2020. At the time I was already coaching as the business I was selling was running independently.

I’ve personally coached hundreds of business owners over the last 15 years and my real passion lies in helping other entrepreneurs work on their building companies, rather than in them.

I love to unlock true growth potential while balancing risk.

I am a husband and father of two beautiful girls. As a family, we love to explore new places with unexpected road trips and hikes in the bush. 

Dennis Wong

Dennis Wong

Sydney, NSW, Australia

In my professional and business career, spanning almost forty years, I have gained invaluable experiences working for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and corporations in financial services, media, education, professional services, information technology (IT), and construction. 

Throughout my career, I have been in the roles of both employee and business owner, but have always been driven by a lifelong desire to achieve outstanding results. I have a passion for bringing about positive change through continuous improvement and innovative systems and solutions, as well as helping others achieve their full potential and perform at their best through coaching and mentoring.

This has guided my path toward business coaching where I now work with business owners to grow their businesses, help their managers and team members to achieve higher levels of performance, and attain results faster by combining training to impart knowledge and develop new skills and coaching to facilitate transformative growth. 

Having held positions in many fields including accounting, information technology, learning and development, safety and compliance, project management, and human resources, I not only bring my expertise to the key business functional areas of operations and finance but continually learn from the collective experiences of my clients, which is why I find the shared coaching experience so rewarding.

As a business and executive coach, I graduated from Coach-U in 2016 and FocalPoint Coaching in 2017 and have continued to develop as a professional coach, learning from experts in the field and subsequently, helping business owners, their management, and team members to develop professionally and personally. I am currently serving on the Executive Committee of the Asia Pacific Alliance of Coaches (APAC) and am a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF).

My wife and I live in Sydney, Australia enjoying life as empty-nesters whilst my daughter pursues her own career and dreams. I enjoy playing tennis all year round, skiing in the winter months, and travelling.

Paul Varghese

Denver, CO, United States

Based in Denver, Colorado, I come from a background of 20+ years in the residential construction industry. Throughout my career, I’ve gained invaluable knowledge about the home building industry by building teams in multiple roles, from sales to warranty to internal operations. 

My professional experiences stem from numerous roles, including department head for an internal home builder training university (ranked number 34 in the nation), director of internal operations for a $160 million per year business unit, and cofounder and business owner of 11 years. I’ve also worked with a multitude of custom home building companies, from the smaller, two homes per year businesses, all the way through to the largest home builder in America. 

I’m a strong believer in education and hold a Bachelor in both Architecture and Interior Architecture. I’m also Six Sigma Black Belt trained. 

I’m an avid people person and thrive off investing in other people, mentoring them, and watching them grow. I do this in my personal life and was beyond excited to join the Association of Professional Builders to start doing it professionally again.