An Interview with Bradford Beldon, CEO of the Beldon Companies
By Keith Martino
The Beldon Companies has successfully thrived for seven decades in the scorching heat of Texas. They are professional roofing contractors. In part one of this interview conducted by Keith Martino, Brad Beldon, grandson and third-generation CEO, answered questions and shared the first three ideas of the unique Beldon philosophy for breeding longevity and success. Here are ideas 4 through 7 as the interview continues.
MODEL THE TEAMWORK AND TENACITY YOU WANT TO INSTILL IN YOUR TEAM
KEITH: So, give us a little of the history from the early days.
BRAD: My grandfather was on General Patton’s staff. And, he came through San Antonio twice. My grandparents were Bostonians by nature, which is our life here. He raised us as Red Sox fans. My grandmother did not like the cold weather. They decided after the war to leave Boston and they left Boston with three kids. They didn’t know anybody here and fell in love with San Antonio. They decided to start our roofing business. They initially partnered up with a home builder. They supplied him with lumber, which evolved into roofing. My grandmother and grandfather were a team. My grandfather would go out and sell and produce work during the day and my grandmother and grandfather would do the accounting at night.
KEITH: You mentioned that your grandfather and grandmother worked well together. It seems that your father and mother were quite a team as well?
BRAD: Yes, my mom used to run purchasing. Later she taught Tina who now handles it. Her philosophy is “negotiate every single line item on a purchase order” and Tina still does a really good job of that. I had a vendor once come up to me and say, “Hey, can you tell your mom that we don’t take coupons?” [Chuckles]
MAKE YOUR BUILDING A REFLECTION OF YOUR COMPANY CULTURE
KEITH: You’re starting to get into a bit of the business philosophy. What are some of the underpinning philosophies that you see being part of the company?
BRAD: Change! Beldon is all about change, constantly changing and we’re building work environments where people can collaborate in a wide-open work environment so you don’t feel like you’re left alone.
Our facility burned down February 15, 1963, and then we moved and ultimately built this facility; we’ve been here ever since. And, we continue to modernize on the outside. It may look like in 1960s building, but the inside is far from that. It’s more modern with all the amenities. Everything that you could think of in a new building exists in this building.
KEITH: Every time I come to your facility the building has changed. Yet, it seems to retain the character of the culture—open and accountable.
KEITH: When you think about the challenges of running a family business, many families find they have a tough time maintaining both the family and the business. What can family business owners count on as a challenge within the business?
BRAD: I think the number one issue with family businesses is family. How do you separate work and your private life? For 73 years, I don’t think that we have figured that one out yet. When my dad came home, we talked about work. When I come home, we talk about work. So, I think that we probably get a big “F” on that scorecard component. On the other hand, we spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our home family. And, so it’s very difficult for us even to think outside that box and to think that we shouldn’t take it home. We’re a 24/7 family. Half of our family is here [at the office]. Half of it resides in our home. And, I don’t know that taking business home is a bad thing. I just know that it makes life a little bit more stressful.
KEITH: I think you’re hitting on something that is really critical because a lot of organizations are not personally connected. Sure, they have the technology. They have the cell phones. They have the iPads, but you guys are really connected as a family. I mean, even before the technology fully supported it, you guys were plugged in.
BRAD: We always found a way. My dad would call in from the road. We knew how to find him. We’re a resourceful organization. We can track people down. And what we find is that staying involved in all aspects of our business allows us to make decisions easier. We know that we have the support of other family members in the business. I think that’s good to know. And, they challenge you, right? We still challenge each other. We might not have the same way of going about it, but our goal is the same. But we were always connected and we are still connected. Today, that’s how my brother, Jonathan, and I still approach the business. We are always connected.
ENSURE YOUR NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS UNDERSTANDS THE NUMBERS
KEITH: How have you prepared your kids for the fact that they might have the opportunity to carry the torch at some point?
BRAD: All four of them have worked in the business. The only requirement that we’ve given them is that they need to have a finance background.
I have a management background and one of my weaknesses is understanding the numbers quickly. I have to study them and study them and ask a lot of questions. I have found that a finance background is a strength that will allow you to grow your business. So we insisted our kids get a finance background if they want to come into the business. So far two of the four graduated with a finance background. One’s working on his and the fourth knows that she will need it if she wants to come into the business.
About the author
Keith Martino, the author of Expect Leadership, has a passion for helping construction and roofing business owners achieve stellar results. Martino is head of CMI, a leadership consultancy founded in 1999 that customizes leadership initiatives in the construction, renovation, and remodeling industries. Prior to founding Keith Martino.com and CMI Assessments, Martino has successfully led sales and marketing organizations for multinational companies.
Modern Contractor Solutions, July 2019
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