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 and two of this interview conducted by Keith Martino, Brad Beldon, grandson and third-generation CEO, answered questions and shared the first seven ideas of the unique Beldon philosophy for breeding longevity and success. Here are ideas 8 through 10 as the interview concludes.
ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B
Keith: I describe you as the guy who has more Plan B’s than anybody I know. How is that you connect the dots so quickly?
Brad: I’ve seen so many things go wrong. I’ve got a backup plan for everything whether it’s at work or in my personal life. You know, it’s funny, my wife just laughs. If I go out of town, I take two sets of keys. She’s like, if you lose one set, you’re gonna lose the second set. I say, “The likelihood that I’ll lose both sets is pretty slim if you’re carrying the second set.” [Smiles]
My team knows that and when they come in, I ask them, “What if this doesn’t work? What are our options?” I try and teach that skill set on a daily basis because in construction, you can have two buildings side by side. Two crews building exactly the same size structure and something will be different. They will not go exactly the same. You don’t know what’s going to happen. We try and teach everybody in our organization to think, “If this doesn’t work, what is your next step?”
EMBRACE THE ADVANTAGES OF TECHNOLOGY
Keith: Talk to me a little bit about how you view technology. How have you integrated IT into what is a fairly industrialized business sector?
Brad: We’ve always invested heavily in technology. Our belief is that we have to stay in front of the customer. We have to exceed expectations. We have to be transparent in everything that we do. So, we’re earning the respect of the customer through our application of technology.
Keith: How so?
Brad: We only have that customer once every 10 or 15 years. Some products are a one-time sale. Repeat business really doesn’t exist much in our business. So, it’s gaining the referral that’s really important. We want to be there front and center.
When somebody says to Mrs. Jones, “Who did you pick to do your roof?” We want her to say, “Beldon.” Or if someone asks the owner or property manager of a commercial building or a hotel or the steward of a complicated project, “Who handled it for you?” It’s the technology that allows you to respond faster. And with social media, if you don’t respond to complaints within minutes, you get dinged.
We are focused on technology. We’ve implemented a new CRM, which will give us real-time data. That project has taken almost a year and a half now. And it’s still not finished. But I’m comfortable that when we are finished that it will deliver a product that’s second to none in our industry. It will also allow us to attract talent because everybody wants to work for a winner. They’d rather have their skill set used in an environment where they feel great about the outcome.
Our call center has been operating on the new platform for some time and we were able to reduce their handle time by 75 percent per call. So that allows us to handle more calls with fewer people and spend more time on the phone with each customer rather than trying to get off the phone to get to the next customer.
CARE ABOUT EMPLOYEES AND GUARD YOUR INTEGRITY
Keith: Is there anything that I have forgotten to ask you about today that you think is important for people to know who are thinking about their business and where it might be in a generation or two?
Brad: A leader needs to understand it’s important to care about your people. You don’t know what’s going on in their life and you don’t know that they were up all night long with a sick child, sick spouse, or sick mother. You don’t know if they spent the weekend in the hospital. You don’t know. I think one of the key components of leadership is caring under any situation. An employee may have made the worst decision ever. But before you jump and scream and holler, try and get as much of the facts as you possibly can as to why they would have made that decision before you put them in the penalty box.
Also, one of the things that I struggle with is holding something against somebody that has not shown integrity. My belief is that integrity is how we evolve within our personal life or in our business. If you cross the line with integrity, I have a difficult time getting back and working with you. I struggle with that.
Brad’s closing thought
The only thing in life that you can control is your integrity. If you think about that in everything that you do and you’re always doing the right thing, whether or not you benefit from doing the right thing, you’ll be an effective leader.
About the author
Keith Martino, 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 KeithMartino.com and CMI Assessments, Martino has successfully led sales and marketing organizations for multinational companies.
Modern Contractor Solutions, August 2019
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