We enjoyed roundtable conversations with Stacy Acker, ironwork foreman; Henry Bell, dirt superintendent; Paul Cumblidge, superintendent; Aaron Kaiser, FPG superintendent; Aaron Powers, superintendent; Jim Reber, superintendent; and Alberto Soto, craft manager. Their views are honest, revealing and sometimes emotional.
What does becoming an ESOP mean to you?
Henry: I’ve been here 26 years and have always tried to keep Conco moving forward. This is a good deal to keep Conco progressing. For the company to trust the employees is big.
Aaron K.: I’ve been here about 25 years. This ESOP has erased a little bit of an ongoing family joke. My dad would always ask, When are you going to be an owner? It’s never going to happen, dad. Now it’s happened…it’s true…it’s pretty cool…I never thought I would see this day. We’re a premier employer for construction-related activities. This adds ammo to that.
Paul: I’ve been here 18 years. I like it. I think it’s good for new guys coming in as well…gives them more incentive to watch everything and watch everyone else and help everyone be accountable
Alberto: It’s a great thing. I’ve been here two years and came from an ESOP. You could just feel the pride…the craft guys took a lot of pride in it…knew anything we put in place was theirs…the quality…the safety. The production was always top notch. I think we’re going to see an elevated change in the pride that our craftsmen take in building work.
Stacy: I’ve been here a year. This is a great hiring tool for the younger generation…a great benefit for someone looking for more than a job or a paycheck.
The executive team just understands that things go better when you’re part of a family…when you’re part of a group. For heaven’s sake, Conco had a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Those are the kind of things that help make us a family.
Stacy Acker, ironwork foreman
How might this change you and the way you look at or do things?
Henry: it will be about making sure we’re all continuing to make the company what it has become…my personal role won’t change…my drive and the passion are the same. I have learned that passion from Craig…this has been his baby for years…and he had the passion, drive, motivation, ambition to make it what it is today…he hands down worked his butt off to get it where it is…people see his nice suits but don’t understand he was in the trenches building buildings, running equipment with us. I’m going to try to keep the lore alive…the history alive.
Conco has always been good to me. I’ve had a part in making it what it is today. The key is work ethic…we’ve got to have the work ethic, the passion, the drive. Today I have to have the big shoulders. Now it falls to all of us to take on the load.
Aaron K.: This doesn’t change anything for me. As a superintendent, I play a role in the organization that can directly impact dollars and cents every day. I’m looking forward to using this as a motivational tool for employees that work for and with me…for accountability…quality…meeting deadlines…meeting expectations.
Alberto: Every day we have to look at how we’re building work and what we can do better or more efficiently. Do we need a new tool? Can we improve some aspect of what we’re doing? I want to work on teamwork and create more camaraderie.
Aaron P.: This is where our safety culture ties in… everyone knowing our bottom line is affected positively when we’re safer…safer, more profitable…now people can see it.
Jim: I see growth continuing. I love the progressiveness of this place…we don’t get stagnant…I don’t always like change, but change is good. You can count on that here. We’re not going to keep doing the same thing.
Self-performance helps drive the overall profitability of the organization. Obviously the more profit we earn the better the ESOP balances get.
Alberto Soto, craft manager
What does it mean to be a Conconian?
Aaron P.: Our Conconian values describe us so well: reliable, driven, resilient, accountable, loyal, relational, authentic. We approach our jobs here like we would in our own homes. We buy into the idea that this is on us. This is ours. It you’re willing to put in the work here, the sky is the limit.
Henry: It’s self-motivating. I wake up every day thinking I’m going to learn something new. We need to continue to strive to do that…to make it a fun place to work. We have an extremely high standard for our superintendents…there isn’t another company around that has the knowledge we do.
Alberto: I agree. You’ve got to be self-motivated. If you don’t have the passion to build work, this isn’t your company. It’s got to be in your heart. I take a lot of pride in self-performing. I can actually say, I built that.
Paul: I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in if it weren’t for Conco. I tell my guys, “Conco trusted me and had faith and confidence in me to let me move up through the ranks.” To be able to give that back to Conco…to play a vital role…to help Conco succeed and be where we are today…I take a lot of pride in that. This becomes a chain…all of us leave an imprint and legacy we’ll pass on to the next generation.
Aaron K.: Conco is my family. Conco is my home. I grew up here. I knew if I stayed here long enough Craig would be planning his exit strategy, and I had a fear of change…fear of this company morphing into something else…The ESOP will help us when Craig is gone to carry on those Conconian values…there won’t be wholesale change…this setup will help Conco continue always to be what it has been…a family company, a tight-knit group…everyone engaged…everyone on the same page.
What won’t change for Conco as an ESOP?
Alberto: We self-perform…that must stay in our hearts and minds…if we lose that we lose respect in the construction industry.
Henry: We’ve always been people-focused…helping people progress and investing in their careers.
Paul: Conco is still, in my opinion, a family-oriented company. With this ESOP, the new guys will see that they are appreciated and valued and that everything they do has a direct impact on their future…their family’s future.
Aaron P.: We can trust the group that’s making the decisions. We’re a company of learners…we’re always willing to invest in getting better. And we self-perform. I hear, “Oh, you work for a general contractor…you sit in a trailer all day?” And I say, “No, we do it all.” A sentence can get pretty long when you name off everything we do.
Jim: Our goal to exceed owners’ expectations. And I would like to take it a step further…now that we are owners I hope that all of us desire to exceed our own expectations. That’s why you have to hire good people.
Not everyone is going to have a say…but trust the group that’s making the decisions. If things stay the way they are, they’ll be just fine. Craftsmen and laborers are now more a part of the organization than they were before. Take ownership of your job!