by Chancellor Page, The Blue Book Network original article
When companies, so intrinsically tied to profitability and performance, choose to place an emphasis on workplace culture, it’s anything but counterintuitive. In fact, businesses—like Adolfson & Peterson Construction—that make an investment in their people as their greatest resource also increase productivity and enhance customer relationships and the quality of work. It’s all tied to the mindsets and skill sets of people who make up the organization. That makes who you bring into the work family incredibly important, because each employee’s commitment to the team helps fuel the company’s success.
“The people who work here are special, and we care about every single one and do a lot of things outside of the office together,” says Mike Bontrager, a Regional President at Adolfson & Peterson Construction. He adds, “We love to see people come in here with a positive attitude. When I walk around the office and see people huddled around a computer learning from one another, it’s amazing to me. We pair them to work together and learn from each other.”
“We love to see people come in here with a positive attitude. When I walk around the office and see people huddled around a computer learning from one another, it’s amazing to me. We pair them to work together and learn from each other.”
-Mike Bontrager, Regional President
Adolfson & Peterson Construction, a national construction operation headquartered in Minneapolis, with offices in Arizona, Colorado and Texas, is a recognized leader in construction for good reason: The company works in tandem with its clients in each phase of the building process, ensuring safety and quality are maintained through day-to-day evaluation and oversight. The company has been recognized by EHS Today magazine as “One of America’s Safest Companies,” and has been featured in Engineering News-Record year after year for its projects, awards and community involvement.
With a focus on family-owned and multigenerational values, Adolfson & Peterson Construction has thrived within a highly competitive, vertical commercial market for almost 75 years. Peer-to-peer bonds of mutual respect have elevated performance, provided ongoing teaching and mentorship opportunities and breathed life into every client and subcontractor relationship.
“Everyone is in alignment with the belief that we’re experts at what we do,” says Laura Shivers, director of marketing. “Everyone’s going in the right direction and in alignment with the company’s goals. We have a remarkable team-oriented atmosphere, and you see that daily. We’re a large corporation, which gives us the resources and flexibility to do things that smaller companies are unable to do. Plus, we’re family-focused and it’s a family company.”
That emphasis on family allows the Adolfson & Peterson Construction team to celebrate the character of employees, develop their skill sets and promote from within. “The sky’s the limit,” Laura says. “Our team members are not going to be held back if they fit the company culture.”
She relates how Janelle Shroyer, the former office manager, wanted to apply for an open marketing assistant position. The only hitch was that she didn’t have a background in marketing. After interviewing other candidates, Laura and Mike discussed giving Janelle a try, and it turned out she was a perfect fit for the position.
“Just the idea that we could forget all of the perceived industry rules and requirements and hire her as a person—it frees us to advance a hardworking, dedicated individual from within our own organization,” Laura says. “Within a year, Janelle has learned design programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, and has already received a promotion.”
That trust in one another allows this company to be nimble and maintain a unique and solutions-oriented approach.
“Our people are continuously learning new things, being creative and solving problems. They’re taking everything they learn and applying those concepts to our projects,” Mike says.
Laura adds, “Our current focus is to be nimble with our clients and to give them a lot of one-on-one attention. You usually see these qualities from a startup, not an established organization like ours, which makes us unique.”
“By the same token, we don’t pursue every project,” Mike says. “We work with people and companies that fit into who we are as a company.”
It’s an inside-out approach that builds trust from relationships within the walls of Adolfson & Peterson Construction and ripples out to subcontractors, clients and the community. Trust is especially important for a business that’s focused on creating building solutions for commercial, industrial, health care, senior living, K-12 and charter school markets.
“Trust is something you develop over time,” Mike says. “With our design partners and customers, we build trust by being honest and straightforward and by keeping the promises we make.”
This team is acutely aware that they’re building places where people learn, work and live within their community. That makes the work relevant and the relationships they develop incredibly important.
Mike says, “If you look at the markets we’re building in, they’re places where people receive medical attention or an education. We take pride in creating these spaces because we feel it’s one way we’re contributing to the community.”
He adds, “Delivering a building within budget and on schedule is a given on each and every project we undertake. But we hold ourselves to a higher standard because we view ourselves as the client’s partner. They trust us to meet or exceed their expectations, which is why we seek out innovative solutions to add value at every stage of the building process.”
Adolfson & Peterson Construction employees believe in the power of volunteerism to better communities. Every year hundreds of its staff members generously donate their talents, energy and thousands of hours of their time to charitable organizations around the country.
“When we do a volunteer event, we get almost 100 percent participation. I just think that speaks volumes to the way people respond here and how engaged they are,” Mike says.
Laura leads the company’s efforts to organize events that give back to others. In addition to introducing new charitable programs for the staff to participate in, her initiatives have helped lift the level of employee engagement in companywide volunteer efforts. Causes they support include Feed My Starving Children and a local Veterans Day 5K race, as well as the Phoenix Rescue Mission, a program where companies can bake and sell cookies to support people of all ages struggling with homelessness, addiction and trauma.
One of the team’s most significant philanthropic efforts has been as presenting sponsor of Back 2 School Bounty, a program sponsored by Adolfson & Peterson Construction and other businesses that provides much-needed supplies and resource assistance to dozens of Arizona schools. Laura developed and initiated the fundraising effort in 2017 with the goal being to reduce teachers’ out-of-pocket expenses.
“Back 2 School Bounty has had quite an impact on communities—our efforts were even publicized on TV and in newspapers. We decided to get serious about it so that we could reach every school in the state,” Laura says. To grow the program, the company is pending 501(c)(3) approval and has expanded into Colorado.
Laura tells the story of giving a box of supplies to a teacher for her birthday, and how the educator wept and said: “When I met you before at an event, you gave me a box of 24 crayons. I’ve kept that box at my desk because it’s the only box with different skin colors for kids to use.”
“For us, it seemed like a simple thing, but for her it was something special,” Laura says.
For Mike, Laura and the rest of the Adolfson & Peterson Construction team, quality, safety and goodwill are extensions of their philosophy and the people they serve. Whatever job or service project they take on gives them the opportunity to band together, serve one another, show gratitude and develop the heart of a company that is aligned and community-focused.