Construction & Industrial Services
Jeffrey Gerald Davis
The Brock Group
In his 36 years with The Brock Group, Jeff Davis has worked his way from project manager to CEO — and has taken the company from being a family owned business to a multi-national, multi-craft service provider.
Not only that, but the company has seen 500 percent growth since 2006 after acquisition by a private equity firm and through significant acquisitions and organic growth. This growth was achieved based on Davis’s vision and his ability to express that vision to Brock’s investor such that it was willing to make significant investments in the company.
Another key to the rapid growth was that Davis and his management team could have access to and build long-standing relationships with the executive management of Brock’s customers. It allowed Brock to present itself as a provider of value that senior customer leaderships require — that Brock is not a vendor among vendors relegated to the purchasing/AP department but is a valued partner in achieving lower operating costs.
Davis leads the company through behavioral-based management and behavioral-based safety which has resulted in Brock achieving excellent safety rankings and expanding the employee and customer base to what it is today. Davis believes that by having satisfied employees, it leads to satisfied customers and translates into a successful business.
As an entrepreneurial leader, Davis instills in his employees his core belief that a customer-centric focus is crucial to success. His leadership style revolves around a central theme from advice given to him years ago by Jerry Brock: “Give the customer $1.10 worth of effort/services for $1.” Davis has maintained this attitude as a core value in the way he interacts with employees, customers and third parties alike.
Davis also has led efforts with others in the industry to develop and fund schools to train welders/painters to draw them into the profession and to generate enthusiasm into making a career in the industry.
How to reach: The Brock Group, www.brockgroup.com
Construction & Industrial Services
Co-founder and principal
Quality Cos. USA LLC
Co-founder and principal
Quality Cos. USA LLC
Troy Collins and Nathan Granger previously worked for competing oil and gas production manufacturers for years until they met in the early 2000s and discovered a common passion—raising thoroughbreds. A business endeavor developed out of that mutual interest, and in 2001, the pair left their promising and successful careers to found a premier oil and gas service provider.
As co-founders and principals of Quality Cos. USA LLC, Collins and Granger epitomize the company’s philosophy of quality people, quality service. Quality Cos. USA, which is a conglomerate of Quality Construction & Production LLC, Quality Production Management LLC, and Traco Production Services Inc., is a one-stop shop for many of the company’s independent Gulf Coast clients.
This diversified company provides both onshore and offshore construction, fabrication and maintenance services. Over the years it has grown from 70 employees in 2002 to more than 800 today, working on production platforms along the Gulf Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.
Collins’ and Granger’s strengths as entrepreneurial leaders are in recognition of their weaknesses and ability to fill those voids with the best managers in the industry. In this industry, the pool of highly skilled employees stays very consistent which puts pressure on companies to retain key employees.
In response, Collins and Granger desire to provide the best working environment in the industry. The two co-founders also have a big focus on service. Quality’s family atmosphere, open door policy and lack of big corporate politics have fostered unbridled commitment to excellent customer service and a multitude of repeat customers.
The company’s more than 800 employees take pride in the company, indicated by a substantially low turnover rate compared to competitors. In 12 years Quality has never had to lay off an employee. Since Quality’s commitment to its customers is dependent on its commitment to attracting and retaining the best employees, Collins and Granger team have devoted many resources to their people.
How to reach: Quality Cos. USA LLC, www.qualitycompanies.com
Construction & Industrial Services
Frischhertz Electric Co. Inc.
It was a moment of professional accomplishment tinged with a deep sense of personal loss. James Frischhertz had been thrust into the role of president at Frischhertz Electric Co. Inc. after the untimely death of his brother, Bernard Jr.
His first thought was to throw himself into his work and be on the job 12 hours a day, seven days a week. In fact, he only took two days off the entire year, one for Christmas and one for Mardi Gras.
He needed to keep the company afloat, protect jobs and maintain everything that was already in motion while he simultaneously tried to develop a new business plan that more closely fit his vision for the company.
Over the next two decades, he presided over tremendous growth with the development of two new business entities: Frischhertz Technologies and Frischhertz Services. He also purchased an audio company called SoundWorks.
In 2005, he dealt with tragedy again when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast. Company operations were paralyzed, but Frischhertz was up to the challenge once again.
Within days, he had set up an office in Baton Rouge and tapped relationships he had built over the years to get his hands on some generators.
Under his strong and empowering leadership, employees began to put their lives back together and as soon as they could relocate back to New Orleans, the company got back on its feet too.
People aren’t just a tool that Frischhertz uses to build his business or a group that he touches every once in a while for show. His leadership is truly inclusive, whether it’s recovering from a disaster, holding his family together during tough times or helping his employees to do the best they can on the job.
He understands how the smaller touches can make a big difference with people and focuses on those to maintain a healthy corporate culture.
How to reach: Frischhertz Electric Co. Inc., www.frischhertz.com
Construction & Industrial Services
Stephen V. Pate
CEO and chairman
Over the past 10 years, Stephen Pate has worked hard to create a company culture around eight pillars that make up the foundation of Strike LLC: safety, excellence, quality, accountability, performance, integrity, passion and long?term relationships.
With his focus that success is not achieved by a single individual but rather by the organization as a whole, Strike has accomplished a 65 percent year-over-year compounded annual growth rate, a testament to Pate’s ability to take risks during times of uncertainty.
For instance, in 2009 while many companies were sitting on cash due to market place instability, he invested in significant resources to create a state?of?the?art cost?tracking portal for the pipeline and facilities construction company.
This portal has proven to be a competitive advantage for Strike as it provides transparency to the client’s job cost.
Additionally, when companies were strategically eliminating employee benefits due to economic uncertainty, Pate created a fitness program to inspire and motivate employees.
Since its inception in 2003, Strike has created various business units with more than 15 locations throughout North America, which have helped drive Strike to become one of the leading single?source energy services providers.
Pate understands that his is a “people” business, and he passionately cares about not only his customers who pay the bills, but also each of his employees whose safety and happiness is of utmost importance.
Even in times of economic downturns, when other companies cut employee benefits, Pate stayed adamant to “do right by all” and although the easy answer to save money and improve the bottom line would be to take the cost-cutting route, Pate did not. Strike even increased wellness programs to encourage employees when a need was noted. Pate has always believed in Strike’s vision and through its growing years, his personal investment and that of the Pate family funded the company.
How to reach: Strike LLC, www.strikeusa.com
There’s an adage in business that no one is irreplaceable. But in nearly every company, there’s at least one person whose contributions are so essential that their unexpected death would be devastating to the future of the business. Taking out a life insurance policy on those essential employees — what’s known as key person life insurance — is a way a company can protect itself from the impact of losing a key employee.
“You never want to think about something terrible happening to anyone, but if it does, this is a way you can be sure your business will continue,” says Deb Welsh, a life risk consultant at Clark-Theders Insurance Agency Inc. “It’s not just about one person. It’s a way of making sure your business as a whole is protected.”
Whether it’s a founding business owner with years of institutional knowledge or a chief engineer who makes your technology possible, key person insurance can be a lifeline to a business in a time of crisis, she says.
Smart Business spoke with Welsh to learn more about this simple but essential business-protection tool.
When is key person life insurance something to consider?
Key life policies are part of a business continuation or succession planning process, so it’s an important component of protecting the ongoing life of a business.
It might be two partner-owners who want insurance on each other so the business can continue if one of them died. But it doesn’t have to be an owner. It could be a sales director who’s critical to maintaining revenues. Maybe it’s a person who maintains your key vendor relationships.
Having a key life insurance policy on that person ensures that you will have the resources to cover lost sales, find someone to take his or her place or pay off debt. You want to avoid any period of time where you’re wondering, ‘How are we going to replace this person and make up lost revenue?’
How are these policies usually structured?
The policy is written on the life of the key employee. The person is the insured, but the business owns the policy, pays for the policy and is the beneficiary of the policy.
Why don’t more companies utilize key person life insurance?
The biggest reason is that it’s not a high priority. Business owners have so many things coming across their desks every day that they don’t necessarily have the time or realize how important it is to have this in place.
In general, life insurance is often something we don’t want to talk about even though we know we need it. Key person insurance policies are one of the biggest things lacking in most companies’ insurance profiles.
Also, the perception is that the cost will be more expensive than it actually is. As a hypothetical example, a 40-year-old healthy male covered for $500,000 on a 25-year term would carry a $740 annual premium. That’s a small amount of money to pay to cover one of your most important employees.
What do you tell business owners about why key person life insurance is so important?
It gives a sense of security to your employees, your clients and your vendors. If you have a large vendor that you use frequently, you may have a significant amount of debt with them. This policy can help give the vendor security that if something were to happen, they would still get what you owe them.
It’s also a way that other employees will know that you’re putting things in place to ensure a future for your company. They won’t have to worry about waking up and finding out that the sales director is gone, and wondering what that will mean for the business and their jobs.
You’ve put your life into your business. You never want to think of something terrible happening to anyone, but if it does, this is a way to know the business can continue.
Deb Welsh is a life risk consultant at Clark-Theders Insurance Agency Inc. Reach her at (513) 644-1280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insights Business Insurance is brought to you by Clark-Theders Insurance Agency Inc.
The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) lending program is a major part of U.S. business growth, and these loans can often be substituted for traditional commercial loans with some benefits to the borrower.
“With SBA loans, a business owner can increase his or her cash flow and sometimes get approved for higher loan amounts than traditional commercial loans,” says Steven Valiquette, second vice president and commercial loan officer at First State Bank.
Smart Business spoke with Valiquette about how SBA lending works and what business owners need to know.
What are the advantages of SBA loans versus traditional commercial lending?
The SBA allows for longer amortizations than most typical bank financing, so business owners can utilize extended terms. For instance, real estate can be amortized over 25 years with SBA financing, but the bank may only offer 20 years with traditional bank financing. As another example, equipment can be amortized over seven to 10 years with SBA financing, while traditional bank financing may be limited to five years.
Another advantage to SBA loans is lower out-of-pocket expenses when compared to traditional commercial loans. The SBA also allows the borrower to roll fees into their loan balance, which isn’t normally the case.
Lower collateral requirements are another benefit. The SBA has higher loan-to-value ratios compared to traditional commercial loans.
What type of loans will the SBA finance?
The SBA can generally finance the same types of business loans that a bank can, with the major exception of non-owner occupied real estate. Term debt such as real estate or equipment purchases are typically financed with SBA 7(a) or 504 loans, and lines of credit can be financed with a SBA Express loan or SBA CapLines.
How can a borrower increase its chance of being approved for a SBA loan?
First, talk to several financial institutions. Find financial institutions in your market that make loans to businesses similar to yours and work with bankers who understand your industry. Other best practices are:
• Develop a good business plan. Be ready to explain why customers are going to want to do business with you and how your business is going to compete in your market.
• Take the time to understand the risks associated with your business and provide mitigating factors.
• Provide realistic projections with best case, worst case, most likely case and break-even scenarios. Having detailed projections can help mitigate some of the risk associated with the loan request.
• Develop alternative ways the loan can be repaid if business is slower than projected or, in worst-case scenario, fails.
• Maintain a good personal credit history. Many bankers feel if your personal credit isn’t handled properly, there’s a good chance your commercial loan payments will not be either.
What else do business owners need to consider?
Take your time and develop a well thought out business proposal. For many small businesses, the bank is not only looking at the financial statements or the business projections, but also the person or people behind the company.
Always provide the information your banker is asking for because any information he or she is requiring is a tool used to evaluate your request.
It’s also important to put focus on management’s experience. If management can demonstrate a strong knowledge of the industry and the ability to handle adversity, this may help ease some of the risk of the loan request.
Finally, try to anticipate your future financing needs. Commercial or SBA loans take some time to close, so you need to plan for it. Remember, it’s easier and less stressful to seek financing prior to the actual need.
Steven Valiquette is second vice president, commercial loan officer, at First State Bank. Reach him at (586) 445-1058 or email@example.com.
Website: For more about SBA loans, visit www.thefsb.com/sba.
Family Business Award of Excellence
Kenneth L. Robison
Kenneth L. Robison has had a strong work ethic going back to the time when he was a young boy foregoing baseball and childhood games with his friends to learn about business. Through his family’s business, he learned how to weld and operate machinery and how to put together structural steel and electrical assemblies.
After getting his MBA from the University of Texas, he returned to Crest Industries and gained first-hand experience in many of the jobs that make up the organization. This experience served him well when he became CEO since it gave him a wealth of knowledge and insight into how people do their jobs throughout the company. Robison brings that same curious enthusiasm to his work these days, and it becomes contagious to those around him, strengthening the culture and improving the level of service to customers.
The relationships that Robison builds become critical when the company needs to take bold steps to keep growing. Robison doesn’t take unnecessary risks and the ones he does take, he and his team do as much research as they can to ensure success and prevent the downside from occurring.
His goal, whether it’s looking at tomorrow or his 2020 vision plan, is to be on top of things and armed with the data he needs to make the best decisions for his company. He thrives on being the leader and helping his company take the next step, but he also takes a lot of satisfaction from seeing the people on his team experience their own victories. He doesn’t see leadership development as a cost.
Instead, he sees it as an investment in the company’s most valuable asset, its people. The support of others stretches beyond the walls of his company. It includes a committed focus to working with charitable causes as well as helping the future leaders of Crest Industries to get what they need to fulfill their potential.
How to reach: Crest Industries, www.crestoperations.com
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contains a total of 91 provisions, bringing change to the insurance market and impacting the type of coverage employers offer their employees.
“Many of the upcoming ACA provisions depend on the size of your employee population,” says Marty Hauser, CEO of SummaCare, Inc. “Employers need to understand these provisions, as they will likely determine what kind of coverage you offer your employees.”
Smart Business spoke to Hauser about how some key provisions impact employers.
What are some provisions impacting all employer groups?
Although some provisions of the ACA are based on the number of employees an employer has, others apply to all employer groups, regardless of size. These provisions include, but are not limited to, guaranteed issue and renewal of health insurance plans, no pre-existing condition exclusion, employer notification of the health insurance marketplaces and an increase to the maximum allowable reward for health-contingent wellness programs.
Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, employers will be required to notify employees of the availability of the health insurance marketplace, formerly known as exchanges. The marketplace is an online portal that will allow consumers and employers to find and compare different health insurance options. Employers must provide employees, regardless of plan enrollment status or part-time or full-time employment status, a written notice informing them of their coverage options. The Department of Labor (DOL) has created three different model notices for employers to communicate this information to employees, and these are available on the DOL’s website.
Another provision impacting all employer groups is the increase to the maximum allowable reward for health-contingent wellness programs from 20 to 30 percent of the cost of coverage. The program must meet five regulatory requirements to qualify as a health-contingent wellness program.
What are some provisions impacting small group employers?
Beginning in 2014, the marketplace will operate a Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, that offers choices when it comes to purchasing health insurance for small group employers — with up to 50 employees in 2014 and increasing to 100 employees in 2016 — and their employees.
Through the SHOP, employers will eventually be able to offer employees a variety of Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) from different carriers, and employees can choose the plan that fits their needs and their budget. In 2014, however, small group employers will be limited to offering only one QHP to their employees, as the provision allowing choices between multiple carriers has been delayed until 2015.
In addition to the availability of the SHOP, small group employers with fewer than 25 full-time employees, or a combination of full-time and part-time employees, may be eligible for a health insurance tax credit in 2014 if they offer insurance through the SHOP and meet other criteria, such as the average wages of employees must be less than $50,000, and the employer must pay at least half of the insurance premium.
What are some provisions impacting large group employers?
Effective Jan. 1, 2014, employers that employ an average of at least 51 full-time employees are required to offer employees and their dependents an employer-sponsored plan or the employer pays a penalty, often referred to as ‘pay or play.’
This provision has specific criteria meant to not only define and determine the number of employees in the group, but also to confirm the employer is providing affordable, minimum essential coverage. Part-time employees count toward the calculation of full-time equivalent employees, and there is no penalty if affordable coverage is offered.
If an employer doesn’t provide adequate health insurance to its employees, the employer will be required to pay a penalty if its employees receive premium tax credits to buy their own insurance. The penalties will be $2,000 per full-time employee beyond the employer’s first 30 workers. Penalties paid by the employer will be used to offset the cost of the tax credits.
Marty Hauser is CEO at SummaCare, Inc. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insights Health Care is brought to you by SummaCare, Inc.
For 27 years, Ernst & Young has celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women who have followed their dreams to pursue innovation and entrepreneurial excellence, changing the lives of countless others by building their businesses and giving back to their communities.
The passion they’ve poured into their businesses and the triumphs they’ve achieved stand as a testament to the role they play as visionaries, leaders and innovators. Ernst & Young founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year program to recognize these dynamic leaders and to build an influential and innovative community of entrepreneurs.
We have gathered here in Greater Los Angeles and in 25 other cities across the U.S. to applaud these entrepreneurs for taking the road less traveled, and welcome the regional award recipients into our entrepreneurial Hall of Fame.
Congratulations on your achievements! Ernst & Young looks forward to helping you find new and innovative ways to continue to grow your business and accomplish your goals.
Brian Ring is a partner and program director for Entrepreneur Of The Year, Greater Los Angeles.
April Spencer is a partner and program director for Entrepreneur Of The Year, Greater Los Angeles.
Family Business Award of Excellence
Jim Armstrong, Clearstone Venture Partners
Chuck Davis, Technology Crossover Ventures *
Mark Hardy, Aurora Capital Group
Jeri Harman, Avante Mezzanine Partners
Carlton Jenkins, The Yucaipa Companies
Brad Jones, Redpoint Ventures *
Eric Kutsenda, Seidler Equity Partners
Barry C. Levin, Snak King Corporation *
J. Christopher Lewis, Riordan, Lewis & Haden Equity Partners
Dr. Linda Livingstone, Graziadio School of Business & Management, Pepperdine University
Mark Stagen, Emerald Health Services **
Kamran Pourzanjani, Bestcovery.com **
Julie Schoenfeld, Perfect Market, Inc.
* Prior award recipient
** Prior award recipient and national finalist