Location: St. Louis, MO
Rusty Keeley takes the negative and makes it positive.
He said his greatest leadership lessons have come in failure, but Keeley, CEO, Keeley Companies, a family-owned enterprise of companies building communities across the country, has learned from each and every one.
“When you finally embrace failure, you will grow to your full potential,” he said. “At Keeley Companies we have a saying, ‘Fail often, fail fast, and fail forward’.”
Still, Keeley said, his entrepreneurial spirit came naturally.
“My father, Larry Keeley, was self-made,” Keeley said.
Larry Keeley started L. Keeley Paving in 1976, eventually selling the company to Rusty Keeley at age 26. Changing the name to L. Keeley Construction, Keeley began to diversify services including industrial, building, and civil. At the same time, he purchased a small directional company, ADB, keeping the brands separate with an extraordinary vision for the future.
By 2008, Keeley launched strategic planning within the organizations to create a platform for intentional growth. He developed a model and mindset to grow 20% year over year, focusing his attention on operations, accountability, and return on investment.
Within the last five years, Keeley has launched his holding company, Keeley Companies, to develop an overarching, world-class culture including a foundation, continuous education, an award-winning safety culture, health and wellness program, diversity and inclusion efforts, and a focus on sustainability. Keeley Companies will finish this year with over $400 million and ADB with over $400 million in revenues.
“I’m just getting started,” he said.
Keeley built a business planning model and software application called The Keeley Way, his patented and world-renowned strategic planning system.
“Our aligned visions continue to surpass even our wildest dreams, and every Keeley Company is thriving. With over 500 leaders on our i404 Planning System, we are logging over 24,000 meaningful action plans annually. The results speak for themselves,” Keeley said. “We have grown consistently year over year by at least 20%, bringing our 2024 revenue to over $1.2 billion dollars with 10% gross margin. Keeley’s Ted Talk: Achieve Results on Purpose: The #Keeley Way, went viral and our #KeeleyWay is now associated with strategic business success globally.”
Keeley’s world-class culture and commitment to the well-being of people has resulted in several awards including Top Places to Work for nine years running. A long-serving leader on the boards of Cardinal Glennon, the St. Louis Police Foundation, the St. Patrick Center, Operation Clean Sweep, YPO Gold, and Concordance Academy, Keeley also serves on the executive committee of the Regional Business Council.
He is co-chair and on the board of World Pediatric Project (WPP). He is actively involved and supports the the Urban League, United Way, Catholic Charities, Good Shepherd, Cardinal Glennon, Kidstruction, The Children’s Miracle Network, JDRF, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Pedal the Cause, local food pantries, as well as many others.
Keeley said he is proud to grow his family business that his father started from the ground up.
“We are reaping the benefits of diverse perspectives and fresh ideas,” Keeley said. “If you get the people right, the results will follow.”
Rusty has donated $5 million to the #KeeleyCares non-profit foundation.