Episode #7: Commitment to Company & Community
October 15, 2018
Welcome to the Precast Podcast, episode 7. So today we have with us Greg Stratis, company president, and our topic is going to be around commitment to company and commitment to the community. So Greg, how's your day going so far?
It's going fantastic, Hugh. How about yourself?
Yeah, it's going great. We've got a lot of exciting things going on and already podcast number 7. Podcast number 6 by the time people hear this will be out. And so far good initiative so we're looking forward to keeping it going.
So, Greg, as we get into the topic of commitment to company and to community why don't we start with different things that Shea Concrete Products does to bring the company together. And I thought a good topic would be the annual gathering in the summer.
Yeah, I think that is one of the largest events that we have at the company that people look forward to every year. We have it usually during the month of August, maybe the end of July. And it's for the whole family. So bring aunts, uncles, grandparents, mother, father, kids, whoever wants to come. We're pretty open with that. And it's a great chance for everybody to meet each other because we have four locations. And it's hard for you to know who everybody is and people don't see each other other than at that event sometimes that work for the company. So it's a lot of catching up that goes on at that point.
But the event that we have at that is Citadel's is where we've had it the last few years in Georgetown or Groveland, I'm sorry. And they have everything there. So swimming pools, softball, whiffle ball, horse shoes, miniature golf. They even have a mini Fenway Park that you play whiffle ball at and stuff like that. So it's a pretty neat place. Everybody loves it. We usually start off the event with a softball tournament kind of thing where it used to be at one time just two locations. So it'd be one location against the other kind of a thing. And so now we have a game. We kind of break up people based on location and we kind of battle it out. And everybody enjoys that. I think that's one of the big highlights. And this year we actually had, we added something different. It was actually Ed Shea's idea. We did a dunk tank.
And the first person in the dunk tank was Ed Shea. And so he brought two pairs of dungarees. One for the dunk tank and one for after the dunk tank. So we were teasing him about that but he was the first one in there. And he got dunked. Then I went in there and followed after him. I got up there and I got dunked a few times. So that was something different that we did this year. This year was a rainy year. But a lot of people came still. And they really enjoyed it. It's a big facility they have there. And we do some introductions of things at that event and talk to everybody and it's a great meeting spot for everybody. So we have a good time. We enjoy it.
So who took the championship for the whiffle ball tournament this year?
Well because of the rain, we couldn't play this year.
So who has it from the previous year then?
It varies. We used to have it... when we first started doing this we had a trophy that we would pass around. And we haven't done that in the last couple of years. Prior to that it ended in a tie. How's that?
Everything's a tie. We used to be real formatted and strict about it. And now it's kind of more fun I guess you'd call it. And the kids are out there playing. We might have 15 people out in the softball field. So we don't take it as serious as we used to.
So how about that gives the whole company the ability to come together in one place. So maybe talk a little bit about being able to get the four plant manager together. Employees from different facilities that may do the same general tasks. So what works? What doesn't work? Hey, I came up with this. Maybe you should try this at your facility. Make things more efficient. Are there a lot of those conversations that occur?
Those conversations are very helpful. So there is problems at each locations we'll have and it's great to talk it out amongst the different locations to see what answers they came up with. We used to be very regimented about doing that and we haven't been lately and that's my issue. I should make sure that that gets done more on a regular basis. So I think that is a goal that we should make sure that we continue to do.
It's something that I think works well amongst all the managers. So we would have the operations manager and the production manager of each plant and we'd get together and go over problems that we're having. Schedule and issues, stuff like that. And so that's something that we've been lacking on a little bit, having those meetings. And I think it's something that we need to continue doing.
Okay. Great. So how about the annual Christmas luncheon?
So we used to have... we've done it a lot of different ways, but during that Christmas time obviously it's all about families and holidays right. So we've had it lately so that we'd have a luncheon for everybody. And we'll do luncheons actually throughout the year for different reasons. If somebody's doing a plant certification for instance, the Rochester plant just got certified. First time. They did fantastic so we had a luncheon for the Rochester plant. So we'll try to do stuff like that anyways for the employees. The Christmas luncheon is a time where we try to honor our employees that had been here. So we'll give them awards for anniversaries depending on how long they've been here, things like that. We'll have a big meal. We'll give out some other kind of prizes and stuff like that at that event.
We've tried combining all locations into one location for that event. And Christmas time we found that that's hard to do. That was part of the reason we started this middle of the year summer company outing. Christmas time we used to rent a place, rent a hall. It'd be on the weekend. Things got a little out of control. And we decided that wasn't our best interest to continue it that way. So we started doing luncheons and we would bring everybody together. And then as Shea Concrete grew, we're up to like 115 or so people now and we found it harder to get everybody to come together around the holidays. So we said okay we're going to do something different. We're going to have the company outing. And that's the place that we could bring everybody together at.
So we find it that mix works best. And I think everybody appreciates that. So at the luncheon at Christmas time, awards, we'll celebrate. We'll talk about how Shea Concrete's doing. How we did over this past year. What are we going to do going forward? Any new product lines, anything about Shea like additions, new office, all that kind of stuff. Try to be as open as possible. And a lot of people ask questions on what direction Shea going in and those kind of things. And that's a time to learn a lot about where Shea's going. And we use the lunch time at Christmas to do that. That luncheon if you want to call it that.
Yeah. That's great. You bring up a good point. So again, this past year one of the things I was not surprised about but saw a lot of the longevity with the company, so during the Christmas luncheon I think you actually got your 25th anniversary plaque.
Bob Flores got his 50th. I believe it was actually 51 or going on 52 now. But again, so the idea of really celebrating the employees, commitment, longevity. One thing that we get a lot of excitement about, a lot of just really company engagement on our different social media platforms, everyone's anniversary gets posted.
Right, and the last couple years we thought that would be a good way to celebrate everybody's anniversary on the day of their anniversary so we posted on social media.
Yeah. That generates a lot of excitement, a lot of energy. Typically kind of Facebook, Instagram, but even LinkedIn and Twitter as well. So I think that's a great initiative that the company does.
And it's amazing some of the comments that you'll see on that social media when that happens. I mean at that time other employees will compliment each other and congratulate each other on social media. I've even seen customers comment on certain people's anniversary dates. So a driver for instance, which is at job sites a lot, you might all of a sudden see a bunch of comments from customers saying, "Oh he's a great guy. Congratulations." And those kind of things. So not only is it nice for them, the employees to get the recognition from us, but to get recognition from family, friends, customers, stuff like that I think is a great thing to happen.
Yeah, that's great. So how about if we shift a little bit to community. So Shea Concrete Products will celebrate it's 70th anniversary this next calendar year which is obviously a huge milestone. And on our social media platforms just having general conversations with folks out in the field, whether it's engaging with engineers or contractors or whoever it may be as we have people come in for the seminars that we do in house. You always hear people talking about just their history with the company. 30 years ago I was doing this at your Wilmington facility. People always having stories, reminiscing. So what does Shea do to stay involved and to be a supporter in the communities that we operate in?
So one of the things that I love doing is supporting the kids in the communities. So we'll do in the towns that our businesses are located in if kids are doing anything like it could be little league baseball, basketball, a lot of high schools now a days have parties after graduation and stuff like that. So the kids are now driving and drinking. And those kind of things. So they're always looking for sponsors and help for things like that. So we really try to look at all those things in the towns that we have businesses in and help out the kids and whatever those functions are. So you go to little league field and stuff like that they might need money for a concession stand, fencing, or whatever. And we'll help to sponsor those things. So we do that quite a bit.
Another thing charities of different sorts. Especially if our employees are doing something to support those charities we'll company match whatever the employee puts in we'll match on those events as well. So we're open to all that. The community is very important to us. We want to make sure that people surrounding our businesses are happy with the way we function. That if there's any issues that they have, whatever it is that they're more than welcome to come to us and we'll be happy to make any resolutions we need to make sure that they're happy. One of the big things we do is cancer donations. Jimmy Fund, things like that. Know somebody who has had cancer. There's people here at work, their families or some of our employees have been affected by that. So that's a big area that we dedicate time and stuff to and donations to that.
We try our best, cover as much as we can but obviously you can't do everything that you want. But if it involves employees and their families and their kids those are areas that we try to focus in on.
Sticking with that, could you talk on focusing on things that employees are engaged in, things that directly help the employees of the company? How do you think that helps with employee retention? Really having the feeling throughout all the facilities of Shea Concrete Products is not just a company, but really it's a big family. How does the community involvement help with that?
So I think that.. I guess I'll go back to the family again. So if there're families involved in something in the community and they come to us looking for support in any way, it could be something simple as donating a truck for a parade. Could be anything like that. I just feel obviously it benefits Shea, but I think it also benefits the employee because they know that they get the backing of a company behind them maybe. And we care. It's like being a stern father maybe. You want to help them any way you can but you also they need to grow as well. So we like to support our employee maybe if they need help on things, but they also need to grow and learn how to do it themselves. We could think of it as maybe a stern father in a way. We have a mixture of people in the company and you're always trying to make sure that you're helping everybody equally too.
We enjoy having it be a family atmosphere.
I think I might have said this before, it's something that I want to make sure part of our value is to keep that. Make it like it's a family.
I don't want to be a numbers kind of a company. I want to make sure that what we do does matter. And it does affect people. And I want to make sure we don't lose that.
And I would say the company's done a great job over 70 years. And also expanding because as you expand from one location to others there's challenges there to make sure that the core values and the mission stays consistent as you get it through different facilities. As different things are supported out in the community how about the idea of nurturing, continuing to develop existing relationships. There's I think some different chambers of commerce that the company's active with, but also the ability to always be getting out, always being active and meeting new people, starting new relationships.
So you mentioned the chamber of commerce. They're actually here today. We've opened up our office since we have that nice, big meeting space now. They've been holding their monthly meetings there.
So they're actually here this morning. They love the space part so they just actually asked me. They're having something on Saturday and they're wondering if we'd be open to let them come in when we're closed.
So she's supposed to get back to me on that. So I think we belong to a lot of different associations. And anything from the chamber groups to local contractor associations, and AGC and all those things. So we try to participate in those whenever we can. I think it's good to get in front of people so that they know who you are if they have questions. So probably something that we could do a lot more of. Meeting people. It's good networking. It's an opportunity for people to understand what you're like, what your values are and stuff like that. And that way you're a lot easier to approach. If someone has questions, we don't mind people coming up and visiting us in the community and I'm always offering anybody that wants to come by and see the place or talk to us. We're wide open for that. So I think it's a good idea to get out in front of the community and talk to everybody so they know who you are.
Sure. And especially doing it kind of outside of business hours.
Gives us different opportunities to meet different kinds of people.
And the chamber does it quite a bit of that. They'll do a function on a weekend or after the four, five o'clock at night. So after the doors are closed kind of thing.
One thing I hear a lot of working with different folks, but a lot of folks hear about the company on WEEI. Could you just take a moment to tell folks what is the connection between Shea Concrete Products and WEEI?
Yeah so that all started was a salesman for WEEI called me up and wanted to know if I wanted to do commercials on EEI. Just a cold call. That was it. By brother in law who's married to my sister is the morning host on EEI. Usually on a call like this if someone cold calls me like this, usually I just say I'm not interested and hang up. But because of my brother in law was the morning host I said to the gentleman, why don't we meet? And he had no idea that we were related.
And so he came in and we discussed commercials and opportunities at EEI and I agreed to go ahead with it and I had asked him some questions or made some comments that he was wondering how I knew that information. And I said well, Jerry Callahan is my brother in law or he's married to my sister. And he goes, "Well, if that's the case we'll just have him in the commercials then." So from day one Jerry and I were doing commercials together and sometimes Jerry just does the commercial and I do it. But yeah, people always come up to me and say, "Are you that Greg from EEI?" We have pens with our name on She Concrete on the pens and I learned this from Ed Shea whenever you go in a restaurant and you use a credit card, so when you sign the bill you bring a Shea pen with you and you leave it.
Okay, you leave it.
And that way then your pen gets spread around and stuff like that which I thought was a great idea. So I was at a restaurant once and I did that. So I signed it, put my pen in. The waiter comes running after me outside the restaurant to my car. "Are you Greg from EEI?" He says to me. I said, "Yeah that's me." Because obviously Greg on my credit card. I had a Shea pen. So he put two and two together and I just laugh about it. So every time I go to that restaurant the guys ays to me, "So how's Jerry doing?" But that's the relationship. So Jerry married my sister and it was kind of a fluke in a way. Wasn't really planned. That's how the commercials started.
Yeah. That's great. And I guess I know at least one initiative that we do with is it WEEI or EEI?
Well, WEEI technically. But you know a lot of radio stations they say EEI. They get rid of the W.
Okay. Just curious. But is it a one hour initiative with the Jimmy Fund?
Oh so yeah. So we do a few things with kind of through EEI for the Jimmy Fund. So EEI every year has a Jimmy telethon for two days. It's always in August for two days in a row. And as part of that what Shea Concrete has done is for every save that the Red Sox get, a pitcher gets, we donate $200. And so I usually go on one of those two days to where they're broadcasting. They broadcast right from Fenway when this is going on. And I usually go to Fenway on one of those two days and present them with a check.
So I talk on the radio for five seconds and give them a check and then I'm on my way. And usually we'll up it a little bit depending on how many saves there were. So this year we donated $13,000 to the Jimmy Fund.
I think this is a record... is this the record for the most wins in a season ever?
Yeah. I think it might be. And they had 40 saves this year. Or actually it was 40 saves into August. So it's probably more than that now.
Great. I think in the future having a podcast episode with EEI would be interesting.
Yes, so I'll have to see if we can do that. I know the other day they were talking a couple of times on their radio station about the Precast Podcast which I got a kick out of. They had just the other day they were talking about Gronkowski and how they have these ice shakers and someone commented well they should do a podcast about them. And they said about ice shakers? And they were saying well they have a Precast Podcast. They can have an ice shaker podcast. So they keep talking about us on the radio which is pretty nice.
That's awesome. We'll get that scheduled soon. Well, that's great. I think excellent conversation about again commitment to the company and then also to the community. So again a lot of exciting things going on right now throughout the company. I think at this point it's a good place to wrap it up and again we can I think say it over as we wrap up podcast seven what the goal of staying in a reasonable time frame as we talk through these so we're not giving people too much at once. And making sure that folks can enjoy these podcasts with their commute home or their commute to work. And continuing to put out more good content. So again, podcast seven. Great job, Greg. As usual.
Yeah, you too, Hugh.
And we'll continue the cadence and look forward to getting podcast eight out shortly. With that thank you everyone. And we look forward to having our future podcast out soon.