Emphasis on People Makes Holder No. 1

By Bill Leonard Jul 1, 2007
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HR Magazine, July 2007#1 Medium Company on the 2007 Best Small & Medium Companies To Work for in America List

Executives at Holder Construction Co. in Atlanta are happy to share the secret of their companys success with anyone -- even competitors. Their secret is a fairly simple and straightforward idea -- hire the best and brightest and give them the opportunity to excel.

"People are our No. 1 asset, and thats something all of us here firmly believe and practice every day", says Tommy Holder, chairman and CEO of Holder Construction.

Holder says he learned long ago that people truly make the difference in how a business performs. He even goes so far as to say that hes happy to share any of his companys procedures, software, training tools and policies with other companies.

"I know without a doubt that a competitor can use any of the same tools or processes that we use but still have a much different result, because our people and their dedication to doing the best job possible is the real key", Holder says.

Holder Constructions commitment to making sure its 400 full-time employees have the tools and skills they need has earned the company the top spot on this years list of the Best Medium Companies to Work for in America. A perennial on the list, Holder moved up from No. 2 last year.

"Its no surprise to me that Holder has been recognized for being a great place to work", says Tom Nichols, superintendent for mechanical, electrical and plumbing services. "Theres no other construction company that I would work for, and Ive received calls and offers [from competitors] before, but my answer is always the same: You better have one huge tub full of money to offerand I mean huge because Im extremely happy where I am".

When Nichols was hired six years ago, his boss asked him to figure out what he wanted to do and how he could best help the companyin other words, create his own job.

"I was pretty much blown away by that idea. Ive never had an employer suggest such an idea to me before. It really was a complete breath of fresh air for me to think that way about a job", Nichols says.

Nichols found the company to be true to its word, and he has formed his job to best match his skills. His sense of empowerment and the opportunity to excel is shared by other Holder associates.

"This is such a great place to work because of the willingness and cooperation to give me what I need to do my job", says Jackie McGarity, project manager. "And then they let me do my job the way that I want, which I love".

Most of the skills and tools Holder provides to its associates come through the organizations top-notch training program. Nearly all of the training at Holder is developed in-house by associates who see a need and then design a training course.

"Most training sessions are well attended in the headquarters new training and conference center. Any Holder associate can participate through online video and audio links. And with construction projects in 12 states and regional offices in Phoenix and Herndon, Va., teleconferencing is very popular among Holder staff members", according to Lee Johnston, executive vice president for Holder Construction.

"We are always trying to make the connections better and give all our associates the opportunity to participate in any training session that interests them", Johnston says.

Johnston has worked with Holder Construction for 27 years, and her long tenure is typical for the companys senior management. She heads the organizations human resource function and reports directly to the CEO.

Lee has a connection to every associate. She has had a hand in hiring nearly every person here, says Tommy Holder. You hear people say all the time that HR should have a place at the table. Well, HR has long had a place at the table at Holder Construction, and that has made us a much stronger organization and just a great place to work.

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