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Constructing a company Featured

5:45am EDT November 23, 2005
Joseph Krusinski got his first taste of construction as a young boy and has loved it ever since.

“I just always knew I wanted to be involved in construction,” says the founder and CEO of Krusinski Construction Co. “I was very fortunate to have construction in my blood, so to speak, and was able to work in the field as a pretty young guy with my dad.”

In 1973, Krusinski turned his love for construction into a fast-growing business and a place of employment for his two brothers and three of his four children. But he doesn’t give his family special treatment in the workplace — in fact, he treats all of his employees like family and encourages the entire staff to give input. In addition, despite industry recessions the past few years, Krusinski avoids layoffs because he believes it is important that his employees have a sense of security.

And he hopes they think of Krusinski Construction as a career, not just a job.

His efforts to make his company a good place to work have not gone unnoticed. In 2004, he was nominated as a Best Boss by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. In 2003, the chamber and Right Management Consultants presented the company with The Right Award for Workplace Excellence, which recognizes companies that demonstrate a connection between innovative people practices and business success.

And there is no doubt that Krusinski Construction Co. has been successful. Its 2004, revenue was more than $60 million — an increase of about 10 percent over 2003.

Smart Business talked with Krusinski about his unique business philosophy and how he allows employees to have a say in the company.

How has treating employees like family contributed to your company’s growth?
We try to create a very open-book environment. But we made it clear that we first have to be a successful business and then we can be a successful family business. That allows for career development, growth of opportunity and training for everyone — family and nonfamily business members.

That way, it is easier to attract good management, to sustain them and to give them career opportunities for longevity of the business. Good people are what allow you to grow your company. Obviously, one person can only do so much, but 10 can do a lot more.

That open-book style of management and knowing that we can’t treat people differently because they’re family members is certainly a key factor in the growth of any business.

How does management share leadership with the entire staff?
We have a strategic planning committee that is made up of at least one person from every department plus our key management people. They are very involved in our strategy and the tactics that help us grow our company.

We meet every month. And quarterly, we have a half-day session. It is the responsibility and obligation of those individuals in those strategic planning meetings to then take the action items to their individual departments and to the entire staff. It’s a very much open-book kind of management philosophy so that they understand what our objectives are and where we need to improve.

It’s not a top-down mandate. It’s more of a bottom-up kind of thing, where individuals in the company really take on leadership and take on responsibility to drive and direct our company in a successful and profitable way.

Why is that important as the company grows?
People spend a lot of time at their jobs. We like to think of this as more than a job — that it is a career. It is security for their families. We each have responsibility to each other that we will be a viable company.

It’s not just about growth, although growth is a nice thing to have. Companies also have to be sustainable. In our industry, there have been three or four major recessions over the last 35 years. Companies have to sustain themselves through those periods.

We are not a hire-and-fire company. We have always kept our nucleus of people together through the good times and bad. I think that’s very important that people are involved in securitizing their future, and that means securitizing the company. I see that as a very important part of everyone’s obligation.

How do you make sure you go above and beyond for your clients the same way you do for your employees?
We are very concerned about customer service. We do a survey and we actually make it a part of our construction contract. At the completion of a project, our client has to fill out a survey that rates every component of our organization as to how they like doing business with us.

People’s actual bonuses are predicated on the success of those evaluations. It helps people understand that it is our clients that sign our paychecks.

It’s all part of that client satisfaction that helps us not only do a good job for them, but it endears the clients to us so they won’t think of anyone else when their next building opportunity arises.

HOW TO REACH: Krusinski Construction Co., (630) 573-7700 or www.krusinski.com