Brett Tesson grew up the only child of a single mother. As a young boy, he was a bit of a hellion who had dreams of becoming a professional hockey player. As an adult, he’s realizing a different dream altogether.
Nearly three years ago, Tesson started Tesson Roofing and Exteriors, Inc. which is now located at 752 Lemay Ferry Rd.
Although his hockey ambitions never came to fruition, Tesson showed a knack for business at an early age. After graduating from Lindbergh High School in 2001, Tesson attended St. Louis Community College at Meremac. It was in college that he began honing his business sense.
“I started a lawn care and landscaping company,” he said.
While it was a good opportunity for him to make money, he admits that it left him feeling flat.
“I thought, you know, this is a really great opportunity, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he said. “Cutting grass and putting up blocks was not really the ideal way to fulfill the happiness that I was looking for.”
So while continuing to build the lawn care business, Tesson set his sights in another direction.
“I had a buddy who was in the roofing and exterior trades. When I was 21, I asked him for an opportunity to meet his sales manager. I liked him. He liked me,” Tesson said.
For the next two and a half years, Tesson pulled double duty.
“From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., I was learning the exterior trade business, and from 5 p.m. to dark, I would cut grass,” he said.
When it was time to make a decision, Tesson was careful not to cut and run.
Eventually, he took on a partner for the lawn care business, phased out the ownership to him and went full time into the roofing and exterior business.
By this time, he had taken a position as a sales manager with another roofing company, but Tesson said he, "wasn’t excited about the road they were starting to travel.”
So he decided to do things a little differently.
With Tesson Roofing now in its third year, he has gone from renting a building in Valley Park to owning a building in South County. He has eight employees and has earned revenues in excess of $3.5 million.
When asked where his business smarts come from, he is quick to point out that his mother has a lot to do with it.
“My mother has a huge customer service background. I was taught a young age that you treat people the way you want to be treated... and also that customers are gold,” he said.
In spite of his accomplishments, Tesson doesn’t necessarily consider himself a success.
“I used to think when you made a $100,000, you were successful, but I don’t think that anymore. I think you’re successful when you’re truly happy. And money doesn’t make you truly happy,” Tesson said. “When you can find inner peace with yourself and the people around you care about you as much as you care about them, then you truly are able to have lasting relationships and friendships, then, in my opinion, that’s when you’re successful.”
Tesson is proud to have surrounded himself with those great people and he’s grateful for the opportunities that have come his way.
He started the business without a loan and said everything he had done has been through hard work and word of mouth.
“I was honest with people right from the get-go. I had some really high-end clients that really took a chance on me. I’m very thankful for that,” he said. “We help people who need to be helped and want to be helped. You’re just going to find honest guys who do honest things on a day-to-day basis.”
Of his wild streak, Tesson said, “I’m not jumping off as many cliffs. I have a lot more to lose now than I did then.”
For the short term, Tesson hopes to have consistent growth for his business. His mother has a different plan in mind.
“She wants me to settle down, get married and have babies,” he said.
Eventually, Tesson hopes that is what life has store for him as well.
“I’d love to build a business that my kids and family can be proud of... and to have a very comfortable net worth,” he said.
For now, he’s happy to be able to provide opportunities for his friends and to give back to his mom.
“It’s not easy. There are lot of people who rely on what goes on here, but I’m enjoying it. I feel a sense of freedom,” he said. “And I think in the long run, this is what is supposed to happen.”