BRI Commercial Roofing
Sometimes seemingly disparate industries can learn from one another. When BRI Commercial Roofing’s President and CEO Michael Beeter wanted to improve customer experience in the commercial roofing industry, he found a friend in the automotive industry with similar philosophies.
Beeter hired Shane Stephenson, a former Marketing and Customer Relations Manager at Sewell Automotive Companies, whose founder literally wrote the book on customer service—it’s called “Customers for Life.” Bringing Stephenson on as executive vice president of business development was BRI’s first step toward defining its company culture and increasing its focus on customers and employees in an industry that is, by nature, disruptive.
“We started internally by recognizing the need to stand for something and have our employees understand that it’s not just roofing; we’re really trying to be part of something bigger,” Stephenson says. For BRI, being part of something bigger means providing the best commercial roofing experience for its customers while supporting the improvement and growth of its employees.
BRI’s founders, Beeter and Vice President Edward Reising, have always tried to take care of their employees. Some foremen and supervisors have been there since day one, for 13 years. With Stephenson, there’s an added emphasis on that now, as well as giving customers an exceptional experience.
“We have quotes on the walls that are about the importance of the customer relationship and the overall customer experience—to always be a reminder that without the customer we don’t exist as a company,” Stephenson says.
Business in a boomtown
Business is booming for BRI. The company has grown to 150 employees, and revenues reached an all-time high in 2016 – up 20 percent from 2015. Most of its work is in Texas’s greater Dallas-Fort Worth market, which is one of the hottest construction markets in the country. It earns rankings like “top and emerging market,” “fastest growing metro in the U.S.,” and “America’s next boomtown.”
BRI recently contributed to a multi-building addition at Old Parkland, an office campus considered the most exclusive and expensive in Dallas. One of the buildings had a unique, copper dome roof, which required BRI to work with new materials and technologies, and the company won an award from the North American Copper in Architecture (NACIA) Awards Program for that dome.
Some of BRI’s other recent projects included work on an 18-month job at Chevron’s headquarters in Midland, Texas, and a luxury high-rise in uptown Dallas.
“We want to make sure that we grow, but we don’t grow too fast,” Stephenson says. “Our reputation, quality of work, quality of people, all of that is important, and we need to make sure that we never take on a project that we don’t feel like we can handle 100 percent and deliver on time for our customers with the quality they expect.”
In order to uphold and improve its customer experience, BRI recognized the need for improved communication and implemented new CRM (customer relationship management) software. Among other communication between BRI and its clients, the new software allows BRI to survey its customers throughout projects.
“The customers and our own employees appreciate our hands-on approach and the fact that we see things through,” says BRI Vice President Ed Reising. ”We try to show our people the same high standards of integrity that we expect from them. All this makes for the best work environment and the most satisfied customers.”
Creating a talent pipeline
As BRI grows, it’s looking to hire employees who believe in this customer and employee-oriented culture, and it’s using a new internship program to do that. In January 2017, BRI will bring on its first intern through an accredited relationship with Texas A&M University.
“I think at the college level sometimes some of the specialty trades are an overlooked route,” Stephenson says.
But, he says, specialty trades are a lucrative option and allow new employees to get involved early on. Employees may also have a better chance of progressing quicker in a specialty trade than they would at a large general contractor where they might get lost in the shuffle.
“By recruiting people with high levels of character and giving them the tools they need to do the job properly, we can pretty much guarantee we’ll be successful,” Beeter says.
Historically, commercial roofing businesses have been departmentalized, Stephenson says. Estimators would do their thing, and project managers would do theirs. BRI is taking a more collaborative, team approach. Its interns will work with estimators, project managers, service and repair managers and safety inspectors so that they can be dynamic team players.
BRI hopes its relationship with Texas A&M will continue to provide a pipeline of new talent, and plans to expand the internship program to additional college campuses next year.
A few years ago, BRI hired its estimator Brian Rhoades, who had completed an internship with a large specialty contractor. Rhoades has pushed for and developed the college internship program. He sees it as a way to reach highly talented potential employees at the college level and expose them to career opportunities they might otherwise not have considered.
BRI isn’t just looking for college-educated employees, though. The company’s rapid growth has also created an immediate need for additional field personnel. BRI plans to address this labor shortage by investing in opportunities for high school graduates who forego the college route. Beeter says BRI is genuinely committed to their success and well-being as a blue-collar employee.
“What we recognize is that a lot of the millennials that are coming up now are looking for an opportunity to jump in and make a difference, and it’s not just about a job,” Stephenson says. “They want to find a place where they can see themselves building a career.”
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