About Us

Classes, workshops, training & consulting programs that work. Period.

The Aspire Institute Story

What do we do? Simple — all we do is make General Contractors more successful, guaranteed.

Hi, my name is Ken Brookings. I’m the founder and Chairman of Aspire. I grew up in the contracting business. My father took great pride in his work, however, he never learned anything about business. As a result I grew up poor, very poor. My father died just as I was graduating from high school. I tried to continue the business but there really wasn’t anything to continue.

Later, when I learned what business was really about I realized that the problem wasn’t the contracting business, quite the opposite actually — it was that my father was trying to be a contractor without having any idea how to run a business. As a result, he worked way too hard, for way too long for way too little — and died doing it.

I found a great way to pay my way through college and so I spent a lot of years in school learning engineering, psychology and business.

My college economics professor connected me up with a Fortune 500 corporation and by my 28th birthday I was a corporate Vice President there. Big paychecks and good for the ego but the work felt meaningless. Nothing changed as a result of my work, particularly people’s lives. I left the corporation and became a strategic and marketing consultant at the highest levels of some of America’s greatest companies; Goodyear Tire, Hewlett-Packard, Texas Instruments, Firestone and Apple Computer to name a few. I quickly learned that this approach to big company work was even less satisfying than working in one.

Then I found something I really cared about: Helping smaller businesses, like my dad’s, to grow, thrive and prosper. I could witness, firsthand, the prosperity of the business owners, their families and their employees improve thanks to our work. General Contracting is noble work — changing lives and fulfilling dreams. The fact that the company I created does the same for the builders is more gratifying than I know how to say. It’s why we do what we do.

Over the decades we have developed and refined a method now called The Aspire Method™. The Aspire Method™ ensures that we won’t waste our clients time or well-earned money with happy talk or telling them things they already know or putting them through generalized motherhood and apple pie type training. We roll our sleeves up, teach and help implement a new level of professional business methods and practical tools shaped specifically for GCs.

We are designed for GCs that want to take their business to the next level. Aspire is a successful consulting, training and educational company that is so effective we can guarantee that every client will enjoy a substantial lift in profits far greater than our cost while gaining a fine quality of life enhancement — I like that.

Ken

WHO WE ARE

Photo courtesy of Clint Crawford – Mystic Light Photography

Aspire is a coaching, consulting and mentoring firm for businesses in specific trades in which we have deep, hands-on experience. Are you a business owner or manager in the construction trades? We have helped well over 10,000 small businesses like yours reconnect with their dreams and establish a powerful and reliable track to achieving them.

Remember those dreams you had the day you opened your business?

Were your dreams to provide a special lifestyle for your family? Dreams of leading a team of passionate people doing meaningful work? Dreams of a retirement with wealth and dignity at the time of your choosing?

You are closer than you think to every bit of that!

A toolbox does not ensure a capable construction professional. A checkbook does not ensure a capable business operator. There is every bit as much to learn and apply to run your business as there is to your craft.

Without having and applying that business knowledge those bright and shiny dreams become replaced by working too hard for too little for too long.


“When approached this way achieving your goals becomes assured – and that’s why we can guarantee in writing that you will get the results that you want.”


Find out what the Aspire Program can do for you! Go learn more»

Executive Team

Ken Brookings

Ken Brookings

Founder and Chairman, The Aspire Institute

Ken Brookings was born with a wrench in one hand and paint brush in the other. His father was at once a painting contractor and an auto shop owner. Ken became a Vice President with a Fortune 500 company by age 27. After that company was acquired Ken founded and sold two other successful businesses before beginning his consulting career. Focusing on high level strategic and operational business consulting Ken worked with the senior management teams at clients including Apple Computer, Texas Instruments, Goodyear, British Petroleum, Firestone, SPX and other major corporations.

Ken then changed up everything, “The high-level corporate consulting business was interesting and financially rewarding but something important was missing. The work, no matter how important didn’t really change anybody’s life. It just didn’t seem to matter. My head and maybe my ego led me to this kind of glamorous work – but it was my heart that brought me back to the kind of work that matters.”

Ken repurposed the successful business that he had built to focus entirely on helping small businesses. According to Ken, “The heroes of the business world are the small business owners and managers. They do the real work and produce the most jobs in this country. Sadly, they seldom get the rewards that their honest work deserves. My focus became, and remains, to change that.”

Ken has been a featured speaker at countless industry events to tens of thousands of business owners. He has written for and been featured on the cover of trade publications and holds four industry related patents.

For over 20 years now Ken’s company, The Aspire Institute, has focused on the two business segments in which Ken grew up; the Automotive Service Industry and Construction Contractors. Thousands of business owners and their families are more prosperous today through Aspire’s work. Ken is proud to still have a paint brush in one hand and a wrench in the other.

Fred Farris

CEO, The Aspire Institute

Fred grew up in the independent service industry. He acquired a small, struggling service company and promptly partnered with Aspire to help turn it around. Fred turned this small, struggling business into one of the most successful businesses in the country in record time. He sold that business and joined Aspire as an instructor and eventually took the role of Senior VP of The Aspire Institute. Fred has taught hundreds of service businesses on a one-to-one basis and has presented to thousands of business owners in groups large and small all over the United States.

Fred’s passion is to see the lives of small business owners get easier and to help them build real wealth.

Linda Casey

President, The Aspire Institute

Linda has been with Aspire for over 20 years. Linda brings a unique capacity for analysis and financial management. Linda has provided financial management for many small companies, helping them grow and optimize their cash flow.

Over her years with Aspire she developed into a very effective senior manager, eventually becoming Aspire’s president. Linda’s management style is a rare blend of no-nonsense business efficiency with a fun and healthy work environment.

Brent Baker

Director of Coaching and Curriculum, The Aspire Institute

After a great 40-year run as a premier builder of high-end custom homes, large-scale remodeler and commercial contractor, Brent sold Baker Construction to his long-time partner to become the head of The Aspire Institute’s coaching team.  Brent has a real passion for helping other contractors find their dreams by reshaping their businesses.

After graduating with a degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University, Brent married his wife Laura and began his career as a woodworker.  Eventually Brent and Laura were able to buy a ranch in Idaho where they raised their four children and today that ranch is alive with visits from their four grandchildren. They bought a home in the South of France where they spend a couple of months every year.  Community service has been another passion for Brent. Just a fraction of Brent’s contribution to his community include; a gubernatorial appointment to a water quality board, founder of an Educational Research and Development Organization, Chairman of his county’s school district board of trustees and Commissioner of his local fire district.  Brent also co-founded a high school residential carpentry program and designed and implemented an experimental youth job skills training program.

As a senior manager at Aspire, Brent designs educational programs as well as develops and manages a team of talented construction industry business coaches.

Coaching Team

Ken Brookings

Ken Brookings
Founder and Chairman

Ken Brookings was born with a wrench in one hand and paint brush in the other. His father was at once a painting contractor and an auto shop owner. Ken became a Vice President with a Fortune 500 company by age 27. After that company was acquired Ken founded and sold two other successful businesses before beginning his consulting career. Focusing on high level strategic and operational business consulting Ken worked with the senior management teams at clients including Apple Computer, Texas Instruments, Goodyear, British Petroleum, Firestone, SPX and other major corporations.

Ken then changed up everything, “The high-level corporate consulting business was interesting and financially rewarding but something important was missing. The work, no matter how important didn’t really change anybody’s life. It just didn’t seem to matter. My head and maybe my ego led me to this kind of glamorous work – but it was my heart that brought me back to the kind of work that matters.”

Ken repurposed the successful business that he had built to focus entirely on helping small businesses. According to Ken, “The heroes of the business world are the small business owners and managers. They do the real work and produce the most jobs in this country. Sadly, they seldom get the rewards that their honest work deserves. My focus became, and remains, to change that.”

Ken has been a featured speaker at countless industry events to tens of thousands of business owners. He has written for and been featured on the cover of trade publications and holds four industry related patents.

For over 20 years now Ken’s company, The Aspire Institute, has focused on the two business segments in which Ken grew up; the Automotive Service Industry and Construction Contractors. Thousands of business owners and their families are more prosperous today through Aspire’s work. Ken is proud to still have a paint brush in one hand and a wrench in the other.

Brent Baker

Director of Coaching and Curriculum

After a great 40-year run as a premier builder of high-end custom homes, large-scale remodeler and commercial contractor, Brent sold Baker Construction to his long-time partner to become the head of The Aspire Institute’s coaching team.  Brent has a real passion for helping other contractors find their dreams by reshaping their businesses.

After graduating with a degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University, Brent married his wife Laura and began his career as a woodworker.  Eventually Brent and Laura were able to buy a ranch in Idaho where they raised their four children and today that ranch is alive with visits from their four grandchildren. They bought a home in the South of France where they spend a couple of months every year.  Community service has been another passion for Brent. Just a fraction of Brent’s contribution to his community include; a gubernatorial appointment to a water quality board, founder of an Educational Research and Development Organization, Chairman of his county’s school district board of trustees and Commissioner of his local fire district.  Brent also co-founded a high school residential carpentry program and designed and implemented an experimental youth job skills training program.

As a senior manager at Aspire, Brent designs educational programs as well as develops and manages a team of talented construction industry business coaches.

Jeff Patterson

Senior Contractor Business Coach

Jeff Patterson was born to build. A 5th generation builder, Jeff was groomed from an early age to be a part of the construction contracting industry. Originally hailing from Southern California, Jeff was drawn to the north where he developed a passion for log home construction, eventually founding his own company which he later sold.

Jeff has worked as a Jobsite Superintendent, Project Manager, Production Manager, Construction Manager, Director of Sales and General Manager on countless projects including: two Disney hotels, projects for Universal Studios in Orlando, FL and on houses ranging upward in size of 20,000 square feet. He has been long-associated with the International Log Home Builders’ Association, serving as Treasurer on the Executive Board and on the Board of Directors at various times throughout.  Somewhere in there, Jeff found time to teach construction at a collegiate level for more than 10 years.

Jeff and his wife, Martha, have raised two beautiful daughters and now reside in North Idaho. They spend their free time scuba diving in exotic waters around the globe.

As a coach at Aspire, Jeff utilizes his multitude of experience over many decades to help our clients implement The Aspire Method™ to help them realize their dreams and reach their goals.

Rick Friesen

Senior Contractor Business Coach

Rick Friesen helps business owners reach their growth and profitability goals. As the 4th generation in line to work as a locomotive engineer, Rick swore he’d never work for the railroads. After moving to Idaho in 1999, Rick transitioned his business experience in technology services to construction services.  After many years of on-site construction work with tool bags on, to operations, business strategy and marketing with a national brand, he shifted his career focus and found his passion in business consulting. “As a creator and fixer, wherever I see a business problem, I try to solve it.”

Rick gained a unique industry perspective transitioning from working on the job, to working on the business. While in operations, Rick created new software tools and procedures that aided business operations in increasing estimation accuracy, studying job cost analysis and tracking payroll. Transitioning to business growth strategy and marketing, Rick leveraged targeted-marketing-based growth strategies in establishing web, SEO, email, social media, and referral programs; all resulting in making companies more profitable and competitive.

Rick lives in North Idaho with his wife Shanna and 2 daughters, where he has also been involved in public ministry for over 16 years. You can often find him hunched over a table playing board games with friends.

As a coach at Aspire, Rick leverages all of his years of industry, specializing in business strategy, sales and marketing and field and business operations. “I help businesses tell their own story, as well as accomplish their story.”

Kyler Wolf

Contractor Business Coach

Kyler is a builder, leader and entrepreneur with an inherent ability to initiate and foster lasting relationships.

Kyler worked his way up in the trades to owning, operating and eventually selling his own successful contracting firm. He has worked, boots-on-the-ground in the field as both a Projects Manager and Superintendent, overseeing multiple crews, as well as in the office handling business operations and client management for several top builders.

In addition, Kyler has been a successful licensed realtor; A Green Project Developer, creating and building out an 18 lot Subdivision; has served in leadership roles for non-profit organizations.

All combined, Kyler is tech savvy, a marketing savant and brings a broad base of industry experience and business ownership to leverage for the full benefit of Aspire clients. In his off-time Kyler skis, snowboards and is a long distance open water swimmer. He resides in Sandpoint, Idaho with his wife Joline.

Marketing Team

Mitchell Fullerton

Mitchell Fullerton
Marketing Director

Mitchell is the Marketing Director at the Aspire Institute, with responsibility for marketing programs, brand management, and corporate sponsorships.  Before joining Aspire, Mitchell served as the Executive Director & President of Northwest Film Institute, a non-profit film production and education organization.

As a creative sales and marketing professional with an entrepreneurial focus, Mitchell has been involved in numerous successful business start-ups including two radio stations, three magazines, a video production company and a jingle house.  He’s also owned and operated his own commercial recording studio, a full-service marketing, advertising, and public relations firm, and the motion picture marketing company, Movietime Entertainment, which Mitchell founded, grew to a national presence and took public through a reverse merger with MagicWorks Entertainment, illusionist David Copperfield’s production company.

When not furthering the Aspire mission to help residential builders create a prosperous work-life balance, Mitchell spends his time making independent films, composing music and enjoying the backwoods of North Idaho with his family. He currently resides in Sandpoint, Idaho with his wife and kids.

Administrative Team

Corrie Greene

Executive Assistant

Kim Anderson

Administrative Assistant

Maggie

Chief Wagging Officer

Customer Support Team

Anthony Rodriguez

Business Development Manager

Amy Porath

New Business Development

Hulda Warren

New Business Development