Leadership shines in the tough times. For DeWitt & Associates Inc. President and CEO Randall Ganz and the entire construction industry, those tough times extended more than three years recently, allowing plenty of opportunity for leaders to emerge.
“DeWitt, as a company, navigated the worst economy in decades and still remained true to our employees and our clients,” Ganz says of the industry’s sluggish workflow and 20 percent unemployment rate between 2008 and 2010. “Since we are employee-owned, the challenges were even greater. Our people are the core of the knowledge that we possess as a company, and that knowledge provides the basis of service for our clients. Lose your people in this industry, and the core of your company must be rebuilt.”
Ganz says DeWitt’s 30 staff members agreed to pay cuts in 2010, a year when revenue was cut in half.
“We made the difficult choice to lose money instead of our people, betting on the future,” he says. “We were beginning discussions in 2011 regarding layoffs in the office staff when the tide turned and our clients began calling again.”
Under his leadership, the Springfield contractor bounced back in 2011, picking up six of the seven Missouri State University residential renovation jobs. Almost overnight, the company had $12 million worth of work to complete in just 13 weeks.
“By the summer of 2011, salaries were restored and midyear bonuses were paid to the staff to reward their efforts and focus through an incredibly challenging time,” Ganz says. “No one at DeWitt was laid off … and by pulling together not only have we survived, but also we are now working in a much larger region and have hired three more office staff.”
New markets in southeast Kansas and northwest Arkansas, helped DeWitt’s 2012 revenue rebound to $68 million – up from a $36 million low in 2010.
Ganz says he works to create decision-making responsibilities at all levels in an organization.
“My basic philosophy is to provide each employee with the tools, knowledge and responsibility to perform their job. I firmly believe in and have tried my best to place responsibility at the lowest possible level (to) create a sincere sense of ownership,” he says.
Acknowledging errors in judgment will happen, he points to a mistake by a young leader five years ago that cost the company $10,000. “I met him on the jobsite the day after it was discovered,” Ganz recalls. “He had his personal items in a box when I arrived. We talked through the issue and nervously he asked if he was fired. I commented, ‘I just spent $10,000 educating you. Provided that is a one-time expense, we are good.’ He is now clearly one of our up-and-coming rock stars in the company.”
With 35 years of experience in the construction industry, Ganz has led $400 million in health care projects between Mercy and CoxHealth, including the Hammons Heart Institute and Cox South Hospital.
Before taking on his role at DeWitt in 2000, Ganz got his start working for McCarthy Construction Co. 1978–86 and spent the decade of the 1990s as director of maintenance, engineering and construction for Mercy in Springfield.[[In-content Ad]]