Charles “Chuck” Perry built a strong legacy – two commercial construction companies known for their corporate values and a sterling reputation for giving back to the community.
When the Gainesville-based builder passed away in 2005, the leaders of both companies committed to perpetuate the approach they learned through his example.
The two companies, Charles Perry Construction, Inc. and PPI Construction Management, Inc., merged in 2011.
As time went on, the leaders of the new company, Charles Perry Partners, Inc. (CPPI), realized something was amiss in its corporate culture.
“Mr. Perry had rubbed off on everyone in senior management, but now, with 200 employees in offices throughout the Southeast, not everyone knew him,” said Brian Leslie, president. “His philosophy had permeated us, but we had to stop assuming it had been passed down throughout the organization.”
From 2011 to 2014 turnover was increasing, and the company was recovering from the economic downturn.
CPPI brought in outside help, from Velocity Advisory Group, a corporate coaching company. Velocity conducted surveys and interviewed employees. On their recommendation, CPPI created a corporate action committee devoted to their culture.
Velocity conducted DISC assessments, which identify personality types, in order to help CPPI build the culture they sought by way of having a better understanding of their employees.
Leslie, not surprisingly, is a Dominant (D) personality type, identified as an eagle.
Another common personality at CPPI is Supportive (S), symbolized by the dove.
“I became aware of who was in a meeting, and I learned to listen more,” Leslie said. “I realize that doves may be uncomfortable talking at first because they don’t want to seem critical of other people.”
To instill team morale, CPPI established a Culture Committee to foster new ideas and maintain the family culture Mr. Perry established. One initiative was to install a bell in each of the five offices. The bells are rung loudly when they land a new project.
“When they ring a bell in our Tampa office or CPPI’s other locations, they make a video and send it to us in Gainesville,” said Matt Webster, executive vice president. The video link is shared in their weekly Employee Update received by all of the offices.
The company put a new focus on its mission and values.
The mission statement – Building Long Lasting Relationships and Structures – emphasizes Perry’s focus on relationships, noted Breck Weingart, the company’s chairman.
“He [Perry] regarded a handshake agreement as good as gold. He was regarded throughout the community as an honest businessman who gave back to the community,” Weingart said.
Their values of Commitment, Integrity, Teamwork, Excellence and Stewardship, alongside of their mission statement can be found on a gold coin the company, created as a reminder to keep those values prominent in everything they do.
Additionally, CPPI honors employees based on their adherence to the values.
Troy Lauramoore, the general superintendent of CPPI’s Diversified Projects Division, recently nominated Neil Thompson, superintendent, for an award.
Thompson exemplifies “stewardship” in his work at UF Health Shands Hospital, Lauramoore said.
“The project involves much diligence and patience to work in the hospital and coordinate a multi-phased job with the Shands project manager,” he said. “Neil is gaining many lessons learned for future projects.”
The new approach to recognition is more visible than Perry’s quiet approach was.
“With Mr. Perry, he added a little extra in your paycheck if you did something special,” Webster said. “He called $100 bills ‘I love you’s.’ He would say, ‘I just handed out some ‘I love you’s.’”
The new emphasis on corporate culture is paying off, with turnover dropping to 5 percent from 33 percent annually and with the number of employees having grown to more than 200 from 100 at the end of the downturn in 2012. Revenue has additionally grown 244 percent over the past five years.
“We all are dedicated to long-lasting relationships and structures,” Webster said.
To view the full CPPI Case Study, visit: cppi.com/cppi-case-study-building-a-sustainable-performance-culture/