27 Nov The Value of Company Culture
In this Business Round Table by Exit Your Way, we had Jason and Mary Sturgeon with us to talk about their construction advisory business, Arcade Wayfinding.
Jason and Mary help construction businesses understand and realize the value of company culture. With their skills and passion they help businesses build and then nurture great cultures.
This husband-wife dynamic duo is not new to this field; in fact, they have been associated with construction for a long time and “speak” construction.
Jason and Mary then proceed to talk about their journey from the very start, they started working for Jason’s older brother roofing company which was not doing and well, within six months they went from three employees to thirteen, three new company trucks and as they say, the rest is history. In little time they had turned around the fate of the company and were nicely profitable. This experience and working on other major projects provided them with the experience to really understand the industry and help clients.
Now, they help aspiring and upcoming construction project owners grow and maintain their businesses. Mary also tells how she used to teach coding to kids and how it really helped them in building their business.
One of the major reasons for their success is their passion to realize the true value of company culture. Jason mentions, that they always advise their clients to do so to as the company culture redefines business principles and ethics and ultimately drives the business success.
We talked about the working relationship they have with clients. Jason and Mary mention that they have maintained good relationships and say the key is to treat them warmly and more as friends than just people you work with because business is a two-way transaction. They also mention how they connect with their clients at an emotional level. They also emphasized on talking with your clients about each and every detail, since good communication is very important.
Jason then talks about how they help their clients build a solid foundation for their clients success. They teach them ways be efficient and manage time to deliver the best services and also save money in the process. They explained how they train people on how to manage and develop the value of company culture since it helps to increase the value of the company. They expanded on how they help business owners draw up contracts, deal with attorneys, create a strategy for the project, helping them identify roles and responsibilities, teach them to maintain a good working environment for the best results.
What emerges is a construction business that is new but complete and organized.
Thanks to Mary and Jason for giving us time and sharing about Arcade Wayfinding and how they help construction businesses improve the value of company culture and evolve their businesses.
Jason & Mary Sturgeon
Jason Sturgeon is the co-owner and representative of Arcade Wayfinding, where he has held the key positions of subcontractor, general contractor, and Owner’s Representative. Much of his work has been public facing for which he has received several industry awards.
Jason has over 25 years of experience in the construction industry, and has worked as a roofer, carpenter, and a carpenter foreman in the formative years of his career. Some of his skills include construction, team building, business development, conflict management, and event facilitation. Jason also co-hosts a leadership and construction focused podcast called, “The Critical Path with Mary and Jason”, in which they talk about leadership, business development, and loving the company culture.
He got his bachelor’s degree in Construction Management and Building Construction Technology from Perdue University in 2005 and then went on to attend Indiana University Bloomington for further education.
Mary Sturgeon is the co-owner and principal at Arcade Wayfinding alongside her husband, Jason. She started her career in Information technology and software development and earlier in her career she taught technology and code to varying age groups with a curriculum she designed herself.
Mary who now works alongside her husband has helped grow and develop companies and teams in their construction business. She has over 25years of experience and her skills include Education, Instructional Design, Organizational Development, Event Planning Facilitation, and Software and Web Programming. She also co-hosts podcast on leadership and construction, “The Critical Path with Mary and Jason”.
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The Value of Company Culture
The Exit Your Way Business Round Table
people, business, value of company culture, building, construction, helping, project, wayfinding, jason, construction project, clients, business owners, run, teaching, culture, talking, work, owner, relationships, years
Damon Pistulka, Mary Sturgeon, Jason Sturgeon, Andrew Cross
Damon Pistulka 00:02
All right, everyone. Thank you once again for stopping by the exit your way Business Roundtable. And with me today I have Jason and Mary sturgeon with arcade Wayfinding. Welcome.
Mary Sturgeon 00:18
Thanks for having us.
Jason Sturgeon 00:19
Thanks for having us. Great being here.
Damon Pistulka 00:20
Yeah, we got Andrew with us today. And I just have to say that hat you’re sporting for our new NFL or NHL team in Seattle is rocking and I got to get myself one of those Kracken merge is so good.
Andrew Cross 00:36
Yeah. They put a note on if you can read that. But it says,
Mary Sturgeon 00:41
oh, come to the crack house. That’s hilarious.
Andrew Cross 00:50
Get it in the camera. There it is.
Mary Sturgeon 00:52
We can see it.
Damon Pistulka 00:57
In Seattle. Yeah.
Andrew Cross 01:00
It’s gonna be nuts.
Damon Pistulka 01:02
Yeah, Pete Alexander was on I don’t know, a couple weeks ago or a week ago. And Pete had that he has the jersey jerseys Look, look smoking too. They’re nice. They’re nice.
Andrew Cross 01:13
Yeah. It’s a branding or marketers dream?
Jason Sturgeon 01:19
Well, I think it goes really well with the the sci fi persona of Seattle because it’s the sci fi capital of the world. So yeah. anything. Anything that gets into or writing science fiction writing fantasy where
Mary Sturgeon 01:34
Kraken was mythology more than science fiction? Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 01:40
My kids saw saw they thought Pirates of the Caribbean.
Mary Sturgeon 01:45
I didn’t even think of that. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 01:46
The Caribbean right away. My son was my son’s 21. He’s like, yeah, that’s pirates. The Caribbean? Yeah. No, it was before that really?
Mary Sturgeon 01:59
movie with a little clock workout. Oh, yeah. What was the movie?
Jason Sturgeon 02:03
Oh, it was?
Mary Sturgeon 02:05
Oh, now we’re both on it. Sorry.
Jason Sturgeon 02:10
Mary Sturgeon 02:10
the Greek mythology movie. Oh, yeah.
Damon Pistulka 02:14
I’m thinking back into that. That’s cool.
Andrew Cross 02:17
Jason Sturgeon 02:22
what we’ll get to Yeah, we’ll come
Damon Pistulka 02:24
back to that. Because, because it’s a it’s a great diversion and get off because, you know, it’s when we when we do these interviews, it’s really about getting to know people better. And, and, you know, all of us are unique and individual. And it’s so much fun getting to know, know one another and how they do but you know, Jason and and Mary, they they help construction companies. And can you guys just explain a little bit about that. And then we’ll go back to kind of some of your background that led us up to that.
Sure thing. So we we run a company called arcade Wayfinding. And the purpose of our business is to help construction companies grow up. And the idea behind that is that many times, people start businesses because they’re passionate about the trade or passionate about the topic, but they get in deep enough. And they have enough people following them that now it’s no longer about the trade.
They really have to grow up their business if they want to stay successful and maintain that success. And so we provide that support to help them grow up through those growing pains. And the majority of our clients, they range from Little mom and pop startups, all the way up to the billion dollar juggernauts. And we provide a different level of support for each one of those companies depending on where they’re at in their growth, progress.
Mary Sturgeon 03:51
And something we find really useful is that we in our lives have worked in construction for much of our careers. And so by sticking to working with construction companies and construction, adjacent companies, we find that we’re able to really communicate with those people on their own level and understand the problems that are unique to that industry. We speak construction.
So because we can use construction specific examples, then it can help them shake themselves out of their funk that will oftentimes derail any sort of development or progress we can call bullshit when we see it.
Damon Pistulka 04:26
Yeah, yeah, that’s important.
Andrew Cross 04:28
That’s interesting. In working with a lot of business owners, ourselves here, especially at the end, kind of, you know, the working on the exit, it’s time to get out. We run into a you know, this kind of a profile, we actually use the term you know, certain types of business owners and general contractors, one of the terms and another one is mountain climber.
You know, in the mountain climbers are more rare because they, they definitely they know how to get a system in place, get an organization running, getting people behind them and motive, not a leverage. And then really scale a company up. But probably, there were birds. I mean, there, Jeff Bezos is you know, but you know, fiber less than 5%, or mountain climbers may vast majority of the business owners or general contractors, right, so they didn’t get into business to run an organization.
I think I think one of the big heart pieces is that, that the people that you’re talking about the mountain climbers versus the general contractors, the heart pieces that some people get into business, because they want to build, grow, Sell a Business, just like any other product. Yeah. And there are the remaining percentage of business owners who they get into it, because that’s where they’re hardest, because they’re, they’re old, and they’re compassionate about doing it. And it’s not a transaction, but they don’t necessarily know how to do it, like the mountain climbers do?
Andrew Cross 05:48
Well, I, I’d actually challenge you, I think in that respect, I think more of the people are, are don’t get into business to build a business to sell business, you know, we, very often they get in business, too, I think it for the most part is they know how to do something and got a skill set, you know, they, they brought it to the table, now they get other people to do it for them. And they can manage that certain level, but they’re very involved in the business. But then they run into what you’re talking about, they hit a ceiling, you know.
And that ceiling is you know, you you’re not you didn’t get in it to run an organization to grow it to become a publicly traded company, you, you just want to pay your bills, right, you want to get through this week and meet payroll and, you know, have a little bit in the bank. You know, those kind of things, but you know, recognize the fact that you’re actually building value in an organization, if you can deploy, you know, and do the kind of you’re helping them do.
Damon Pistulka 06:44
Yeah, yeah. So it says, give us a sense of your backgrounds here. And let’s start with Mary first about, you know, kind of how you started and kind of up till today a little bit so we can get a little bit of a sense of that.
Yeah, well, so we started and we we both were in the construction industry as kids. Jason’s older brother had a roofing company, and both worked for that company. And, and I have kind of so it my role in it is, is, in a lot of ways, I see it as less interesting than Jason’s only because I have been a wife and industry wife.
That’s been a lot of interaction much, much of the beginning was support class, where I started working summers just for gas money for my brother’s business. And he’d been running it for a long time, unsuccessfully. And as we move forward in time, I was 19. Mary was 18. And I’d said to my brother, well, give me a shot. Let me run your business. And let’s see what happens. And, and his perspective was like, well, it couldn’t get any worse. So Mary, and I worked together.
And over a period of six months, we went from three employees to 13 employees, we bought two new, no three new company trucks, we had three crews. We bought a piece of property, we had a set of plans for building an office, we had a hiring, promotional structure, a training, structure, health care, health care for roofers, in the 90s. In the Midwest, we put all of this together, and we were making money hand over fist. And I was the younger brother. So he had a really hard time with that. And it basically dissolved in kind of this big blow up.
Yeah. But I’ve been kind of split in two directions in my career, and that I have always kind of provided support in the construction industry to whatever Jason’s doing in his career. But in the meantime, I also developed education, in technology, and in education. So during the time that Jason was building his career, which I’ll tell you more about in a second here, I was teaching code to kids, which when we started doing this, I really thought it didn’t have a lot to offer. I said, Well, I’ve been teaching Minecraft to kids. I don’t know how that has anything to do with what you’re doing. And it turned out that it actually had a lot to do with what we do.
So we went forward, and and I got into general contracting, I work on skyscrapers. I’ve been a subcontractor General, contractor owners Rep. So you see all of the different parts and pieces of when a business is working, why is it working? Or why is it not working? And what I found myself doing much of the time is helping my subcontractors on my projects, navigate the job because quite literally, if they go belly up on my job, that means bad things for me selfishly.
So I spent a lot of time kind of helping them coaching them through what to do what not to do to be successful. And by the time I gave my, my general contractor that I was working for a year and a half notice that I was leaving, and I said I want to do something different. I don’t know what it is. But but I’m gonna find it and then started this business where our first clients were our subcontractors, or were my sub contractors from GC days, and of the first five that we signed in, in the beginning of that business, we still have four. So we focus on building relationships.
And when we go to Christmas parties and company picnics, we get hugs instead of handshakes when we go to the crawfish boil, yeah, pre COVID. But the idea is that we we forge these longer lasting relationships and when things go sideways, or when things get crazy, we’re at the top of the list of people to call when something happens that you’re not prepared for. Yeah,
Andrew Cross 10:37
so those clients, how long has that been?
Jason Sturgeon 10:40
Mary Sturgeon 10:40
Andrew Cross 10:41
Yeah, that’s remarkable. Because that just doesn’t happen in a consulting type relationship that have clients with tenure that long, it’s incredible.
And it tends to look more familiar, where we work with business owners, and then we work with their children, to help them through that transition. And we help in a lot of ways, at an emotional level, where it looks, it looks more like therapy.
And a lot of our clients, it actually looks like we work there. So you know, I remember we were having a conversation on the way out to one client about the fact that, you know, we didn’t have as many co workers as we’d like to have. And then we pulled up at the client, and it was raining outside and Jason went off one direction, and I went, where I was going, I go and go into an office and the two women and the officer like, come on, and girl, close the door, it’s cold out there, right, and I come in and sit down, and we kind of have a chat about how things are going. And I know them both very well.
And I realized that everyone, all of these people are my co workers. So it’s a really, it’s a really nice way to do business.
Damon Pistulka 11:43
Hmm. Yeah, and those kind of relationships. I mean, really, there’s, there’s something that that that we hang out with a bit, Alonzo Berry, he talks about emotional intelligence in those personal relationships in business and how that how that that really makes business a enjoyable and be long term, when you’re when you do these things, and, and being personal being, you know, that part of it, I think, is something that I really like to see is happening again, in business, because, you know, Helen, and her and I were running companies, that was not the way it was.
It was in the days of, you know, this cutthroat, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, all the things that no one likes to hear about is the the world that we live in. And I really enjoy the fact that they hear that and in that because it allows the relationships like like Andrew was mentioning, you set for five, six years, you can have long term relationships, if you’re in there, going, Okay, where’s my next way to help them with value tomorrow, today, tomorrow, and that, and the day after that? Yeah. And your
Andrew Cross 12:54
challenges, you’re gonna say Why? Why can’t we get personal, it’s just stupid. This is what this is how it really should be. But it is rare. It’s not something you see. And it’s not the way we were taught business. So that’s very cool. But, you know, you can point out to some of the most successful relationships, business relationships are deeply personal. Some of the most successful people, Warren Buffett and his partners and those things they they’re generational to it’s Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. Kudos. That’s, that’s very cool.
Damon Pistulka 13:31
And in looking at at Jason at your background, you built some cool stuff, too. I mean, your buildings down in the Amazon complex. You’ve built some stuff down there. You’ve worked on while Trump Tower properties and Yeah, you’ve got some some cool project management experience.
Mary Sturgeon 13:47
Yeah, Chihully garden snd glass was one of my favorites. Yeah. So the the Chihully Garden and Glass project.
And that was interesting story there. We had eight months per contract to build that. And no one in our office thought we could do it in under nine months. And we had 70 $500 a day liquidated damage. So for people who don’t know what that is, every day that you finished late, you have to pay 70 $500 a day out of pocket. So we brought it in, under budget, and we finished in seven months in three days. Wow. And so at 1.1 of the critical subs was 55 days late on the critical path, and we’re still able are able to overcome that.
Damon Pistulka 14:33
Wow. That’s amazing. Yeah.
Andrew Cross 14:36
Yeah, it’s incredible. Where they are in manufacturing, but we’ve worked with a lot with construction businesses, and I think if you can do construction successfully, you know, you can do anything. You can do anything. Well, they got a lot of it’s real cool.
Damon Pistulka 14:59
Yeah. Cuz you’re fighting people, the weather, other subcontractors everything. Yeah.
Andrew Cross 15:05
Yeah, everything’s moving. It’s hard to track. Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s quite a feat. I liked it, Mr. I can’t believe um, yeah, I think that people will come out of contracting, as well as some of the best talent you can get. If you’re looking to get into business, I think you
just have to learn how to capture everything and how to kind of keep your hands on everything. And the more that you can build those systems out, to be able to see what’s happening with all of the important numbers and to be able to measure all the important numbers, then that’s kind of how you how you do that.
So about 30%, of what we do is discrete training, where we’re focused on teaching people how to do contracting, where we’re teaching, how to document things, we’re teaching how to manage change orders, we’re just starting our foreman basic training program in October.
And it’s an eight week long program where we’re teaching form and what they’re supposed to know when they actually start in that position. Leadership are going through the soft skills are going through technology, and we’re going through construction principles that they were never taught, as many times it is very much a sink or swim kind of situation where they get thrown into the water 10% of them can swim and to the hell with the rest of them. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 16:22
yeah, it is really, I mean, it is one of those industries much, much similar to manufacturing where it is sink or swim in the manufacturing floor part of it, you know, it’s in construction the same way out on the job site, it’s it’s totally survival of the fittest for a lot of companies, and they overlook or pass over with that process. So much great talent, because people learn differently, or people need a little bit extra help here, but they’re much stronger there. And that could actually be the skill that they need more than anything.
Andrew Cross 16:56
Yeah. Well, that sounds like to you’re providing a solution for you know, I mean, this is a tight hiring market. And a lot of people retiring and skilled laborers, you know, low skilled folks are going away so that you’re getting a lot of business because of a we can’t hire them. Let’s teach them, teach the people we got that kind of what’s going on there.
Yes, and part but but an interesting detail is we teach a time management class, and anyone who’s in management of any sort is about 50%. Efficient, that means you get an honest to goodness, three to five hours of work done in a given day. Mm hmm. So apply that to your organization. That means that we’re burning in non productive effort, half of our workforce. So you tell me that we have a problem with not enough people. If you if you just improve that by 10%, how much better things get?
Well, I think there’s another cool piece of this, though, that we are seeing a lot that is this generational thing where you know, there is this idea that young people aren’t just aren’t as suited, they’re just not the same, even though
Jason Sturgeon 18:05
they don’t work hard,
you got these old guys that have been doing the job. And now the young people just aren’t the same millennials just can’t work. And that’s people tell us all the time. And it’s silly, but the truth is that the world has changed, education has changed. So the kind of support that these people need to be ready to do their job, they need to know what they need to know. And they need to know that they’re doing a good job. And so when you can offer that support, then all of a sudden, those people can come in and really fly. But we can’t subject them to the same training methods that we used 50 years ago and expect them to just want to stay and want to be there.
The public education school system was created for the Industrial Revolution. Hmm. Think about that. We still use that same training process today, most of our kids so that they can grow up and be factory workers. We don’t, it doesn’t work for us anymore. And I think in the same way, the younger generations who are coming into the workforce, these people are more sensitive to causes. These people are more sensitive and and they react more more keenly to things like culture, they want to feel like they’re working for the good guy.
Whereas 20 years ago, who cares who the good guy was, we just need to get a paycheck. But now the fact that you’re working for for the Empire and Star Wars, that’s kind of a deal breaker for a lot of people. So I think we talk about this idea of many people feel like they have a recruiting problem. We can’t find enough good people. We can’t get enough talent in our doors. What’s the problem with them? They don’t want to work. But did you stop and think for a second that maybe it’s not them? Maybe it’s that you just haven’t moved or pivoted since 2000? Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 19:51
Yeah. You know, that that day is such an interesting thing because people don’t think about Wall Street. And I’m just gonna pick on people my age because I am because people my age, you know, and and like and I said, We grew up in a different time in different work and you know millennials out they do want to understand that, hey, your company culture does does good things it treats people right, you know, all the kind of stuff is as as you said didn’t matter a while ago matters to them.
And when they see that they get behind you. And when you get people’s minds and their bodies engaged in what they need to do, you get you get everything. And that is the real key. And it’s cool to hear you guys say that because it is culture, it is culture, we didn’t even mention the word culture 15 years ago, 20 years ago on business.
Well, and I think an interesting part is that, that construction is always the last to the table. In terms of change, because many other industries, we’re talking about culture 1020 years ago, whereas construction is the last one to the table, late to the game. And an interesting survey that came out as a nationwide survey that came out that ranked the way that a business treats other people at your business higher than their pay.
So that means did number two. So this was a study of people in the millennial age group, and ask them what’s most important, I mean, dia that my company treats others fairly treats people of different gender, different race, all of that, to that my income company treats these people fairly, they considered the number two most important thing. And I think it was right behind job security, because millennials, obviously are very concerned about where they’re going to work tomorrow.
But if that’s the number two ranking, my question would be what are you doing to to treat your team your family better? And what are you doing to communicate the fact that you’re doing it? Because recruiting should not be a problem? If you’re doing it right, people should be clamoring at the doors to be a part of what it is that you
Damon Pistulka 22:00
have going on? Yeah. Yeah. You know, it’s so funny about that you said communicating it. And, and this is one thing, or I know that businesses just missed that missed the boat, the train, whatever you want to call, because there’s a lot of businesses and we look at the financial statements, and businesses give away a lot. I mean, they’ll get away financial, they’ll, they’ll do do days of donating labor, they’ll do all this kind of stuff. And then they never tell anybody about it.
Yeah. And and, and I know from talking to the owners that they go, Why don’t are the managers or what we don’t want to brag about it, no, you’re not bragging about it. And you just brought up a very valid point for these people in businesses that you need to communicate. So everyone in your own business now. The people that are working over here, don’t know that you just you just supported this, this homeless shelter by doing this, whatever it was, or you you helped rebuild the sports field at the school or whatever the heck you did. If you don’t tell them about it,
it’s not about making you look good. It’s about making them feel good.
We had a client who went through, I think this is at the end of the last year, and went through a number of situations, that all kind of happened at the same time, where one of their team members was having trouble getting to work. And what it turned out was that his tires kept popping, and he kept having, like fixed up ladders. And so the owner just went and bought him new tires, and said, just do that it’s worth it. And then one person was having back problems.
And the owner just bought him a bet and said, you need this here. How can I help you. And so you look at all of those microtransactions. And, and if you look at the total impact that those culture investments have, or even having stocked fridge, or having a good party for the families, and we’re sending flowers or gifts, and at the right time of the year, I think that investing in company culture is the single best investment that you can make into a business. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 24:07
yeah. I’ve got a friend of mine, that that for a number of years, his wife still does manage the company of North here. And one of the things that they’ve done for ever, is a couple times a month is they, he he and his wife cook dinner for everyone and bring it in on a Friday, every other Friday. They’re doing this and and he said it’s just amazing what it does. It’s they enjoy it. They cook all different kinds of stuff. So it kind of you know, what, how are you going to do that every other and kind of keep it fresh? And do that. And they’ve done it for a long time now, and it is a huge difference.
Yeah, well, one of the things that we suggested to a handful of our clients when COVID struck, is that there was lockdown and they had to lay certain people off or take people off work for a short period of time and they were like how do we make sure our people Okay, we can’t necessarily afford to give them a bunch of money. And we suggested that they just buy a bunch of kind of staple grocery products, and just Costco, set them up on a pallet at the, at the office at the workplace and tell everybody, they can kind of come in and shifts and just come in and just take whatever they need. And that’s a way that you can invest this kind of small amount of money, but just help everybody stay afloat.
But I think the message that it sends is far more important than any of the financial expenditure.
Damon Pistulka 25:30
Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, if you put a couple thousand dollars, where the Costco products there that are on board, a, it’s mass, it’s a lot of product, but be it, it does really help people. It’s,
Andrew Cross 25:44
it’s not much in the long run to give really free to for what you get, you know, back for that. But something but the best part
about about that are the memories are the recollections, this person did that for me, when things got tough, this person stuck their neck out, or this person said, stopped their their business for the day and took the time to do the right thing. Those memories will get kind of forged into entire experience. And that is how you create loyalty. That’s what makes
Andrew Cross 26:17
it I see on a large scale, right now to the airline industry, you know, are watching it because I were in Park City, it’s there’s a lot of delta employees, pilots, flight attendants, when they got hit hard, really seem like us. But that company, at least delta is building an amazing amount of goodwill during this what they’re doing with their employees and with their customers as well. You know, I think they, you know, it’s something it’s something to marvel at, but just watch down the road when all of it when we start to come out of this, you know, we’ll see, you know, who the survivors are and who, you know, I think those things will come back to you. You know? Yeah.
Yeah. When in situations like this reveal your character, for sure whether or not you want that character to be revealed. It will be known and recorded. Yeah. Whether on the side of good or evil, right.
Andrew Cross 27:16
With that reminds me of that my favorite quote from Warren Buffett was when the the tide goes out, you’ll see who’s swimming naked.
Mary Sturgeon 27:24
Damon Pistulka 27:25
Jason Sturgeon 27:25
Or zooming naked?
Mary Sturgeon 27:28
Andrew Cross 27:30
Jason Sturgeon 27:31
Yeah. Thank you, Damon.
Damon Pistulka 27:34
It has been an interesting time. Interesting time, that’s for sure. Because it’s, uh, you know, as we said, Before, we got on, you know, for us, we knew nothing about video in 2019, and kind of fell by the wayside or not fell, by the way, but fell into it when we are sitting here in February or early March, or whatever the heck it was, and, and just that we got to help people, I mean, because this is, this is all we can do, we can’t we can’t go out and you know, put our backs in too much.
So So what we can do is we can give people knowledge and reassurance that, you know, they’re this, this is going to be better, maybe a long time. And now it’s no longer than we all thought. But I think the even in in your industry, in the construction industry, I am really, really impressed with some of the resiliency and some of the, you know, they have to adapt a lot of different things, a lot of different procedures to be able to keep people safe and continue working and continue doing the things, but they’ve done.
But one of the first reactions that we had was that we started construction peer group, right out of the gate. And we helped a number of companies navigate through PPP, and and securing funds and help ask answer questions,
and have a lot of the kind of emergency moments that happened in that early.
Yeah. And we were helping a lot of folks with messaging, what do we tell our people? How can we, what steps should we take because there was very much a reaction where people wanted to just fire everybody. And, and some companies did that. And then there was a more metered response from a lot of companies where they were more thoughtful and deliberate with their actions, and they’re having a much better situation that they’re in now.
And then part of our pivot was that we moved 60% of our training to virtual. So up until that point, we had never trained remotely, but we move 60% of our training to remote and that went really well and then started coming up with new offerings that people really made use of like reading blueprints, and Microsoft projects.
But a recent development is that while we’ve always kind of worked with culture, and helping people manage and develop company culture, is implicit bias training. So that’s something that when we get our teams in our family to understand that you by nature, when you’re born, you’re born with bias. And that’s, that’s baked in that is a human superpower to be biased. So getting construction companies to be friendly and understand that bias has been been a really soul healing effort for us right now as well. And good work to do.
Damon Pistulka 30:22
Yeah, yeah. And it’s we had so we talked with Ron Higgs A while ago about bias, and it is, it is a that is such an interesting and and relevant topic. Today, that’s for sure. So what are the biggest challenges that you You see, when you’re working with these businesses that are kind of across the board, you go? Okay, this is one that we pretty much see is there?
Well, and I would be willing to bet that our answers would be pretty similar to that. Because once you do enough of development sort of work, you see the patterns pretty clearly but but the obvious gimme is the the person at the top, that’s just going to go there is is oftentimes either holding on to too much, or is they they themselves are resistant to change. And I think that that you have to get the commitment from from the person who has the authority to make changes, that they will actually commit to make these changes for the betterment of themselves and for the betterment of their family,
they often won’t let go, or they do let go, and then don’t really have a solid understanding of how to delegate so that things actually get done the way that they need them to. And that’s, that is a huge problem. Every, every time you find somebody who’s really struggling to move beyond that, that ceiling that’s often in play.
Andrew Cross 31:54
Yeah, that, you know, that that resonates with us. I mean, that’s exactly right. Because, you know, the clarifiers come to us and go, Hey, I want to sell my company, it’s time for me to get out. And if if they’re that is the nature of the beast of the business owner is they’re controlling typically, and they built this company, brick by brick and ploy by employees by sale, you know, they’re involved. And, you know, if you’re going to sell the company, though, who’s gonna want to buy it if you’re doing all the work, and you’re gonna be gone tomorrow.
Damon Pistulka 32:31
So, we do that,
Andrew Cross 32:32
but you got to come up with a solution. It’s interesting, because it doesn’t, you know, they know that changes there, it’s going to happen 100% of people get in a business, get out of business, no matter how. Right, and they know that, you know, they can’t work forever, you know, they have to get an exit like that. And if you if you don’t have an organization, that if you don’t let go, and let your, you know, let, let it systemize it and process it, and a buyer is not gonna be interested.
But but many times people get into business because they were good at the thing. But they’re, but they’re not good at building process. And so that’s where a lot of our work exists is helping people create that process. So we have an interesting relationship with attorneys, because many times we’re helping our clients prevent litigation, we are preventative steps to prevent litigation and we work with attorneys and no lots of construction attorneys. And and go to them for advice in specific situations.
But we are that preventative step or the preparatory step that either you’re going to be very well prepared for litigation, because we’ve helped you consolidate the case and everything is detailed, or we don’t need the attorney at all. So that we don’t have to go down that road, the best lawsuit is the one that doesn’t happen. And in the same way, with the work that you do in terms of helping people get out of their business, it takes a year sometimes to create processes and systems, and much of the work that we do is trying to prepare them to be able to be able to talk to you. Because there’s a lot of groundwork that has to be set in order for that to even be a possibility. And I think that our work dovetails pretty nicely together.
Andrew Cross 34:21
Yeah, you know, we have a solution with putting in a trade route, we can call them a transition team or an exit solution. So basically, they can rent you know, a management team, you know, for the course of that transaction, you prove that the business can can do that. It is a little bit easier because you know it they don’t just have to come to this conclusion but it’s it’s very interesting in our experience and we actually because they know they gotta change right?
They know they can’t work in there after they sell the business. You know, what’s cool about it is if what so then they start going okay, I’m in let’s let’s get going on this now, but a lot of Our Oh man, we should have done this. It’s really that’s really what the cool part is. Because once you build that system and let it run, that light bulb goes off and it’s it’s spectacular. Right, then you’re really you’re, you’re really, now you’re selling a great organization, not just a good, good.
Jason Sturgeon 35:20
Damon Pistulka 35:21
Yeah, because as you said that the work that you’re doing dovetails with the kind of work that we do, because we have to get the ownership, at least to a board kind of level in the business, they can’t be in a direct line type position. Otherwise, it’s just just as much, much harder to sell. And it’s worth much less quite as quite honestly.
But those processes, as Andrew said, you know, when people get to realize how well simple weekly KPIs that helped to make sure that they’re on track from both the cost and in your case, a project status, and ultimately a financial basis, at the end of the month, when they start to understand that cadence and how that works of, okay.
Every Monday morning, we’re gone through Well, in construction, or manufacturing, it used to always be safety first, and then he started now list after that, but, but when you know, those numbers are in line, that owner gets to go, oh, okay, we’re gonna be alright, we can, we can go and see how it turns out next week, or these are the things that were I know, my team is working on. And we’re going into the next week with this, rather than getting that financial state and mango odd down, we just wasted a month. Okay. And now we’re three weeks into the next month before I got time to look at the financials and realize I lost money last month, so.
Andrew Cross 36:46
So what is really cool is going back to its culture, culture, and the people it is it is the decision in where when you’re a buyer, and you’re coming in, if a deal fails, it’s not because they overpaid, it’s not because they didn’t finance it, right? It’s not because sales dropped, it’s because the culture didn’t match or it didn’t work, you know, and something changed in there. So that it’s hugely important.
And, you know, I like for an example, you know, I got a buyer coming into the company, and we’re doing, we’re doing up, we got a buyer, and we’re doing an introduction meeting, first time check off. And, you know, it doesn’t make it intuitively it makes sense. But our buyer is better off to be at us vacation in Hawaii, and have his his VP in there, his general manager, his transition team, and we’re talking to the owners and like that, and they’re like, this is a company I want to own where I can be in Hawaii,
Damon Pistulka 37:44
calm the company, if they can be someplace else, while the company and the people or the buyers are there, and we’re there with them. It’s is it’s way better for that seller, because the the buyers get to look at the the company on altered.
Andrew Cross 38:00
Really nice, they’re not gonna they’re not looking they’re paying for Yeah, obviously the company’s got revenue, it’s it’s got a history of doing that they’re looking at the building, they’re looking at equipment, but they’re also looking at, these are the people that make it happen. And that’s where you get a premium for your business, if you had those right people in place.
When you were talking about the process that you put into place, that cadence that you established, and with construction, specifically one of the places where this happens. And and one of the biggest focal points is how do we deliver our projects? Because our project delivery method, this is like your factory and manufacturing. So how What, are you doing a good job in delivering your product and creating your product? Or is it a hot mess, and it looks different every time?
And so we have an offering or an answer to that that I’ve never heard of anyone providing in this way. And it’s called Project coaching. And what that looks like is we start and we finish a construction project together with the company culture with the focus of teaching how to run a successful construction project. And so we do the startup together, we go through the contract together, we create a strategy for the project. We identify roles and responsibilities. And we go through the life of that project and play the game of construction project.
And all the while we find missing processes where we say oh, this isn’t a thing you guys are tracking, you guys aren’t paying attention to this number. Let’s go ahead and put together something really quick and dirty. That’s going to do that for us. So that by the end, we’ve kind of built all the tools we’ve trained the team on how to use all the tools.
So then what they wind up with is a very profitable project. But the part for me why I do it is I we started a project coaching piece of work and the team is a hot mess. They’re stressed they’re their home lives are not going well. Yeah, the process of project coaching and I sit down with a piece Maybe 60% in and I said, So how’s it going? What do you what do you think? What are your takeaways?
And he says, you know, there are a lot of levers to flip. And there are a lot of steps to go through. But it’s fine. I mean, there’s it is it is a non event, and it doesn’t have to be this drama laden experience that makes your hair go gray. It’s just that there is no process in place for it. So we help to create those processes and coach them through how to use this new machine. Yeah,
Andrew Cross 40:30
yeah, way to do is to use their management tools, but they’re just, you know, and they’re tools like any other. And I think, you know, what, I see that in businesses too, you know, good operators, good business managers, good owners, got logo, listen their employees and provide them spend the money and giving them the tools that they they need, because there’s nothing more frustrating than not be able to do what they know they want to do it, you know? Right?
Well, they want to do it. But many times, business owners and managers aren’t necessarily teachers. Yeah, they’re not necessarily good instructors. And so when we can go out on the job site and inspect how the daily reports are coming and inspect the cleanliness of the site, and and keep those people to account through the life of that project, that that consistent ongoing education is is like an education you can’t get anywhere else.
And I think another part of it is that the people who are best at doing construction are not necessarily the people who are interested in keeping track of numbers or
Mary Sturgeon 41:37
Jason Sturgeon 41:38
they’re not always the best students, they
want to get out there. And they want to build and they don’t necessarily understand how much they need to keep track of these different metrics. So often, we go in and accompany either a project as a big success, or it’s a big failure, and then no idea why, because they just kind of throw their teams out there, and the teams just start building and everybody gets to the end of the project, and then we find out how it went. So I think a lot of the time, they need somebody who understands what they need to be keeping track of, to show them and then to help everybody understand why it makes a difference that we keep track of these things, and see how it lets them stop problems before they happen.
Andrew Cross 42:16
Yeah, and that’s, um, that’s an art, you know, that’s a real art to be able to identify it, it has to be simple and visual, and, you know, and things that are understandable, right and relevant, and there’s so much data and so much crap out there too. And that that’s a huge frustration point, too. So,
but they’re usually clues when, when things are running off, if we’re paying attention to certain measurements. Yeah, whoa, that there’s a problem. Well, before it becomes a real problem.
Mary Sturgeon 42:43
Andrew Cross 42:44
I think the best business owners, you know, are managers and managers, you know, what, ask, you know, you know, it’s not up to me to, you know, the person on the line knows, you know, what, what you’re what the issues are, so that it’s just a matter of, you know, listen, find out the answers and then get it, get a feedback loop for them so they can do their job.
Well, we have this big process map that is a construction project beginning to end, it’s the life of a construction project. That’s every single thing that needs to happen. And what we tell project teams is if you go through here, and if you were to drop a pin on this map, every single time something gets missed, something goes wrong, then what you will see is you’ll see a couple areas that have one pin here, one pin there, and then there’ll be an area or two that has just pin pin 50 pins, often.
That’s where you know what you need to work on. So in that process map, that is the indicator, and what it does is it normalizes where it makes it okay for there to be a mistake, it normalizes that when we drop a ball, it’s not a problem that we drop the ball. It’s a problem if we don’t figure out why it dropped. So I by measuring and tracking where our mistakes are happening, we now have the ability to prevent those things from happening again, in the future, we get smarter as an organization.
Damon Pistulka 44:06
Mm hmm. That’s really cool. And you know, going back Hello, as Mary, you said something that I just live by. And then if these measures are not simple and quick and dirty to figure out, that’s the one thing that I see that the in businesses, people will come up with a measure and you go, Yeah, but how the hell you ever going to calculate that? How you got to build a whole new system or a whole new computer system, just imagine this one thing, figure out something that gets you a close indicator, and you’re good, you can do that in five minutes. That’ll get you there.
People will, people will procrastinate for years, because their project management software doesn’t talk to their accounting software in the perfect way. I will say I don’t give a damn. If that doesn’t happen. You can do it manually and it’s a pain. Let’s just
open up Excel. Let’s just track these three things. That’s it. Just these three things. But I want to see them every single week. And then what’s going to happen is over time, you’re going to say, it’s really cool that we’re tracking this. But I wish I knew more about this right here. And then you say, what do you want to know about it? Let’s add
another thing. And then that gives you a 90%. accuracy, as opposed to zero percent accuracy
Damon Pistulka 45:18
is exactly right. And it’s so key because you you did you mentioned two things. A, never wait for the perfect solution. It’s not CA, and B, if you can get 75% 50% of the way, you’re, you’re way better than zero. Yeah. So cool. Yeah, better, better
is low. And often, I think, when you’re looking at like metrics and data, the best way to get to the perfect data is with the imperfect data, because then you’ll start to see what’s missing. Or you’ll say, you know, we track this thing, and we’ve never used that in any way. And then the question is, should we be using it? Or should we stopped tracking it? And so you learn about the data you need by tracking by just taking a guess? And starting to track something anything?
Damon Pistulka 46:02
Yeah. You know, when we’re working with clients, we can be a year in and still modifying dashboards, still redesigning the way that they’re going out to different numbers still recalculate and things in different ways, because we’re, we’re learning more about the details behind the business and what really matters, like you said, and that refinement, I believe, is where you go, okay, most people don’t take it to step one.
But when you take it to step two, and three, that’s where you’re leaving people in the dust with understanding of your business and where you can really go to the next level, which is so cool. But you guys are teaching people. Yeah. stuff, awesome stuff. Well, you know, so you guys, I, I could talk a long time on this. And we’re getting, we’re getting close.
Because it is it is so cool. Because as we talked about construction and manufacturing, we’re Andrew and I grew up in a lot of our previous life working for companies, it’s very similar. And you guys are helping people in a way that I think is very, very valuable going from the I’m a craftsman to I’m a business owner kind of perspective. And then to you said, about helping people with with generational transitions, because those are just those are killer, because it goes like, what is it Andrew, you know, the first second third generation, but then, like 3% gets to the third third generation ever.
Andrew Cross 47:33
It used to be used to be 15% would transition to within you know that and now it’s less it is I think less than five?
Yeah, a lot of the places where we have conversations, we get access that a lot of other people don’t get right. And and the conversations that we have oftentimes look more like therapy, I had,
Mary Sturgeon 47:54
I had people tell us that I feel like I’ve just been in therapy, we had
a son tell us we basically caused this conversation to happen between the father and the son in a transitional business. And the reaction from both of them was I wish we would have this conversation 10 years ago, because it fixed and and made better. So many specific issues that we’ve been having that I’ve been carrying around with me. And just by coaching people through those conversations, we do a lot of good spirit work, a lot of good soul work in that process. And it really makes you want to get up in the morning. Hmm.
Andrew Cross 48:33
Well, you know, when you’re when you’re getting it getting to the time where you have to transition and get out of your business and sell it. It’s a tragedy. You can’t sell the business. It can’t transition from you know, one generation the other because, you know, the tragedy is a white shirt, you built something and it’s a lot of lost work, but people lose their jobs. Yeah, you know, your organization was an organization that was innovating and creating all the new. All the new developments. All the new technologies come from these small companies fail and and, you know, stuff like that the big companies don’t do this stuff.
Damon Pistulka 49:13
Right? Yeah, they’re all around us every day here in Seattle, that’s for sure. Yeah, it is. Right. Well, it’s great to have you guys on. So nice to have Jason and Mary sturgeon from arcade Wayfinding here. So how can people get ahold of you guys if they want to want to reach out for more information or just talk to you?
Well, so we have a website at www. arcade Wayfinding calm. Also, if you want to hear more from us, we have a podcast that [email protected] critical path podcast.com You can also find it on our website. And we’re on all the podcast networks. You can find
us on youtube at arcade Wayfinding. And so you can also Find us in West Seattle Island. If you want to come by for a coffee, we have a fearless wrestle bar, where we would be happy to host you and meet with you in socially distanced
settings on LinkedIn a lot too. So we’re Jason sturgeon marry sturgeon, arcade Wayfinding on LinkedIn,
Damon Pistulka 50:17
wherever. All right, well, great having you guys on today. Thank you so much for stopping by around table and sharing with us. You guys are helping companies in so many awesome ways. It just makes me feel good to connect and be able to learn more about it. So thanks a lot.
Jason Sturgeon 50:34
We appreciate it.
Mary Sturgeon 50:35
It’s really good to meet you guys.
Damon Pistulka 50:36
Jason Sturgeon 50:37