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Hoar Construction LLC
#5 Medium Company on the 2008 Best Small & Medium Companies To Work for in America List
After Hoar Construction LLC was named to last year’s list of the Best Medium Companies to Work for in America at No. 19, the first agenda item for a subsequent managers’ meeting was: “How do we become No. 1?”
The quest by President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Burton to move up in the rankings typifies the company’s constant focus on improvement.
“It reflected our core values,” explains Doug Eckert, vice president of business operations and head of Hoar’s human resource function.
Employees say the organization -- currently No. 5 on this year’s list of the Best Medium Companies to Work for in America -- lives and breathes those values, making it a great place to work. “I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else,” says Trey Buteau, an assistant project manager.
Buteau points to a conversation preceding the birth of his first child in March as a prime example of how Hoar lives up to its core value of being family-oriented. Buteau told his supervisor he would take just two days off after the birth. His boss told him no way and said Buteau had to take at least one week and maybe even two.
The supervisor said, “We need you here, but your family needs you more,” Buteau recalls with emotion. It “made me want to come back and work even harder and do the best that I can for people who I consider my family.”
Retaining that sense of family in a rapidly growing organization may be the toughest challenge Hoar managers face. In five years, Hoar has grown annual construction contracts from approximately $300 million to nearly $750 million, more than doubling the size of the staff from around 350 employees to 720.
Dealing with growth and retaining core values and corporate culture represents “something we struggle with every day,” says Burton. “Any company that has grown as fast as ours is bound to have growing pains. It’s how you learn from those growing pains and make the company better.”
Establishing a corporate human resource department four years ago has been instrumental in managing rapid growth. Burton admits, with slight chagrin, that he once was a CEO who didn’t believe in the value of HR.
“Managers needed to know how to manage people, and that was all HR was. So I was reluctant to have a separate HR department,” he says. “I’ve come to understand and really appreciate the value of a strong HR department.”
Burton provides total access to his HR employees and actively seeks their ideas. “I can walk into his office anytime,” says Eckert.
Allyson George, HR manager, recalls a time when she had been working for the company for just a few months. She was sitting in her office with her back to the door when she heard someone walk in and sit down. There sat Burton, holding a cup of coffee.
He said, “Let’s talk,” George remembers. “We talked for nearly an hour. I have never in my entire professional HR career had the CEO do that. It really was amazing and made me realize that this company was different.”
With rapid growth, Burton can no longer meet with every employee one-on-one, so Hoar now holds an annual summit in Birmingham, Ala. All employees come, including those on job sites and at regional offices in Houston, Orlando, Fla., and Nashville, Tenn.
The summit features team-building and networking opportunities that stress core values. One value, stewardship, focuses on taking care of corporate resources and adding value to the company and the community. An annual stewardship award recognizes an employee who lives that value. The recipient receives recognition during the summit and $10,000 for a favorite charity.
The first stewardship award was presented in 2007 to Carolyn Wilson, an administrative assistant. “I always felt that the stewardship value was just part of my job and that I hadn’t done anything that really deserved such recognition,” says Wilson, who has worked at Hoar for 25 years. “This award is just one more reason why Hoar Construction really is the best place to work.”
List of Best Small Companies to Work for in America, 2008
List of Best Medium Companies to Work for in America, 2008
50 Best Small & Medium Companies To Work for in America home page
Hoar Construction Core Values
Purpose: Value building value. Our core values determine who we are and shall not be compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency. They shall guide our every action with one another, in our company with our clients and in our communities. With these essential and enduring principles we will build value in everything we do.
Golden rule: It is our desire that Hoar employees strive to be exemplary in their treatment of others. Honesty and integrity will be foremost in our every thought and decision. Fairness, caring and mutual respect for our fellow man will be evident in our every action.
Family-oriented: We must have a sincere respect for our families. Compassion and understanding will define our character as we consider the needs of others.
Relentless pursuit of improvement: With a disciplined and determined work ethic, we must strive for improvement in our company, our community and ourselves. Our recruiting and training programs will be unsurpassed in leading people to succeed.
Stewardship: We are entrusted with the resources of others and the future of this company. As caretakers, we will add value to each other, our clients, our projects and our community.
Ultimate goal: Striving to become the most respected and admired company in our industry and in our community.
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