(This was originally published in the magazine Shout Out DFW)
Meet Steven Zielinski | Neuro Spine Surgeon/ General Contractor/Commercial Pilot
Shout Out DFW had the good fortune of connecting with Steven Zielinski and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steven, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
What makes me happy and why?
I enjoy the “sport” of entrepreneurship. It’s fun for me to think critically, strategize and innovate. I could be surfing the internet, watching TV or doing any number of other things with my free time. But, in my case, entrepreneurship is my fun. It’s Sunday football, Call of Duty, and a bunch of TV shows all rolled into one. Why do I work so hard at it? I guess the same reason people never miss an episode of their favorite show. It really is my entertainment.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Your Work: What do I do?
This gets tricky. It’s hard to talk about Team Z General Contracting in isolation, because like many entrepreneurial ventures, it was born of necessity. I am a spine surgeon who grew up in Canada. I came to America with nothing in my pocket except a little lint and admission to Stanford’s cerebrovascular fellowship program. With that, my American dream began.
During my fellowship, I really enjoyed clipping aneurysms, but I wanted a family and a life outside of medicine. So, I went into private practice and eventually moved to the great state of Texas. I met my beautiful wife, Mandi, and soon after, Texas Spine and Neurosurgery was formed. We worked hard to get Texas Spine & Neurosurgery off the ground, but we were rewarded as it grew to expand across the state. As we grew, we purchased a few pieces of real estate that needed renovation. So, I did what most people would do: I began meeting with general contractors for quotes on the renovation and – in one case – an elevator installation. The minute any contractor learned that I was a doctor, their prices suddenly jumped to the moon. And, on top of that, not one of them could install an elevator correctly.
That’s when Team Z General Contracting was born: my family decided to do the construction/elevator project ourselves. Since I was the only one with construction experience, I took the lead. And, since the kids were toddlers at the time, we assigned them the job of testing paint colors. I’ll tell you what – they have a great eye!
Remember when I was talking to those general contractors? They all told me that this project would easily take over a year and that the cost would be outrageous. I completed the project in 9 months for a small fraction of their quoted costs.
As my medical practice continues to grow, Team Z General Contracting will continue to fill our renovation and construction needs. Team Z is now doing general contracting for other small businesses and families as well. We specialize in elevator install, ADA compliance contracting and energy efficiency and cost saving.
Although Texas Spine & Neurosurgery is no longer our largest customer, the way we treat our customers has not changed. I am doing this to serve other small businesses and home owners who, like my medical practice, couldn’t find a general contractor to do a job well, with integrity and a fair price tag.
I’m still a spine surgeon with a growing practice. I like to think I’m successful with both spine surgery and general contracting for the same reason: I’m honest with people and treat them with respect. Everyone deserves that.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Favorite spots in the city.
My wife and I’s guilty pleasure is a staycation at the downtown Ritz Carlton. We also love to eat at Blue Fish, Truluck’s and Oceannairre. And, we rarely let a season go by that we don’t take in a show at Fair Park. The kids love the Perot Museum and the Dallas Aquarium.
The Shout Out DFW series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Who do I want to thank for helping me along the way?
I know it sounds trite, by I wouldn’t be the man I am without my parents, my wife, and my kids.
My parents instilled in me the value of hard work and explained that I need to work “smart,” not just hard. They helped me to become a physician and gently pushed me to do my best in anything I try. My mom, who was a teacher, helped me value education not just as an academic pursuit, but as a lifelong ambition which does not end when you leave a class room. My father, who worked selling aircraft engines for turboprops, instilled in me a strong work ethic.
My wife is my best friend, my confidant, by business partner, my sounding board, and my support. She is the person I ask for help, the one who I go to for advice and the one who is always there when I need something. She is my life partner in everything I do.
My children give all of this purpose, keep me grounded. They give me a reason to strive to be a better person every day.