Steven Massaro elevates teamwork to new levels at Massaro Corp.

In the case of pull planning meetings, at first people hesitated to speak up, he says. Subcontractors’ comfort zone is the job site, not sitting in offices, so they needed to learn Massaro Corp. was trying to help them do their job better.

With constructability reviews, architects or engineers could get defensive if the discussion is framed the wrong way because the owner is their customer, too. So Massaro Corp. positions these reviews as a matter of the architect-contractor team working together on drawings to minimize the risk for inefficiencies. And ultimately, if architects and engineers get fewer questions during the course of construction, they spend less time on the project, which is good for them.

Today, Massaro Corp. is seeing evidence that its lean integrated project delivery is working. Not only are drawings clearer upfront, but employees have developed checklists to help avoid past problems. Subcontractors are saying, “I wasn’t sure about this when I came in because it was different, but I’m glad I came.” The company is seeing better results on customer surveys, which it evaluates in lessons-learned meetings. Two years ago, scores were very choppy, Massaro says. Last year, the average customer satisfaction score was 8.76 out of 10.

At the same time, while challenges still crop up, the workplace environment is lighter.

“You tend to hear the things you like to hear around an office environment: a lot more talking, a lot more joking, a lot more laughing. That’s how you get happy and engaged employees,” Massaro says.

An intentional culture

It’s important to the Massaro family to set a culture that is innovative and enjoyable, where people want to hang out even outside of work.

“That’s the type of culture that we have. And that’s not just luck; it’s intentional. It’s thought through, and we have different ways of creating it,” he says. “It’s not just a fun environment, but also an environment where people are learning things and bettering themselves in their career.”

For example, the Massaros recently bought an organic grass-fed cow from Washington County. The meat will be used to reward employees — if they go above and beyond, they can take a few steaks from the freezer home to their families.

Communication also needs to remain strong, and it’s better for meetings to run long because people are engaged, rather than have them be too quiet.

“If you get the arms folded and everyone is just sitting back, checking their phones, checking their emails, hoping the meeting ends sooner, you’re missing the mark,” Massaro says.

His brother, Joseph, also helps make sure the company doesn’t hit meeting fatigue, where people spend too much time improving their job instead of doing their job. This is even more important in today’s environment, when the industry is so busy.

“It’s like math. If you’re not on top of your trigonometry by the middle of the semester, you’re going to have a tough time catching up,” Massaro says. “It’s no different here. So if you’re putting people into too many meetings and the project begins to fall behind or have problems, it takes a lot of effort to get it back on track.”

 

Takeaways:

  • Variable processes increase risk and stress.
  • Share how efficiencies improve each individual’s job.
  • Setting the right culture isn’t luck; it’s intentional.

 

The File:

Name: Steven Massaro
Title: President
Company: Massaro Corp.

Born: Pittsburgh
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing, The Catholic University of America

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it? I worked in a warehouse. My dad’s big thing was, get up, pack your lunch and go to work. He wanted all of us to start working in a warehouse or as a laborer to understand the value of work. There’s no substitute for that.

What’s it like working with your brothers? It can be very enjoyable, and it can be very stressful. You always need to put the business performance first. But largely it’s a positive thing because there are several of you who have a vested interest in the performance of the company.

Have you thought about succession? We’ve thought about it. We’re all early to mid-50s, so it’s becoming real. My dad passed in December 2015 and my mom passed in December 2018. We’re still adjusting. A good succession plan will need to become a higher priority over the next couple of years.

Where might someone find you on the weekend? I got married later in life, so I still have small kids — a son and two daughters. So I might be coaching my son’s basketball team or somewhere with my wife and kids at an event.
Up until Dec. 27th, you could find my family and I every Sunday at my mom’s; we’re trying to figure out what Sundays are like going forward.