From the Field: 5 Traits That Set This Innovative Contractor Apart
I stared at the 20-foot gorilla beating its chest. I could hear upbeat music wafting in from somewhere — music that would normally indicate a killer tailgate party had just kicked off.
‘Am I really at a construction company right now?’ I thought.
Astonishing, yes I was. I was part of a Trimble team visiting Power Design Inc., a national MEP and Systems Technology contractor headquartered in St Petersburg, Florida, on an assignment to talk with them about the innovation that has fueled their growth over the past 33 years.
The gorilla turned out to be a King-Kong like statue that decorates the offices, serving as a really cool piece of art and a reminder of Power Design’s aspirations and reputation. The music was just the backdrop to the normal lunchtime rush at the campus cafe.
I felt like I had landed in a foreign country or a new city, with its own distinct vibe and personality. And I was ready to soak it up. Watch the videos below to see what makes PDI an innovator worthy of spotlight, and keep reading as I talk about the five personality traits that I feel make Power Design a leader in construction.
Innovator Spotlight: Power Design
Trait #1: A people-first culture.
When I first showed up at Power Design’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida, I knew they had a long history of collecting accolades like: Achievers’ Top 50 Most Engaged Workplaces, Glassdoor’s 100 Best Places to Work, and Inc.’s 5000 Best Places to Work , so I was expecting a lot.
I was not disappointed. For a week, everywhere I looked I saw evidence of Power Design’s focus on keeping their people happy and engaged:
The dedicated tram that runs between their main campus buildings. It’s always available for employees, guests, and clients who want to avoid the long, sweaty walk to the nearest crosswalk. With the friendly driver and nice comfy seats, I almost felt like I was about to head to Disney World! Except without the screaming kids. Yay!
The keys to a new, giant, tricked-out truck were handed over to an employee for his stellar safety and leadership accomplishments in the field.
While interviewing Project Engineer Kylie McCaffrey, I was impressed to hear how she started at PDI in an administrative role with no construction experience. Then, she was encouraged to learn more about the business and worked her way up through procurement and into a project engineer position. Another win for women in construction.
I could not escape the big-screen TVs playing looped video of past PDI events in the lobby, and I didn’t want to! These fun, inclusive get-togethers are obviously very important to building relationships and staying connected to PDI’s work hard, play hard mentality.
The gym, the cafe, the fun wall art and sculptures… I could go on and on.
Trait #2: Embracing the ‘Every company is a technology company’ imperative.
As Dave Hughes, Director of Virtual Design and Construction, said, “Over the last few years, Power Design has become a mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and technology contractor.” The PDI team understands how technology positively affects their business, their customers, and their ability to find new ways of working. It’s become a core part of what they do and how they identify themselves.
Watch the videos to understand how they are leveraging an innovative HaaS-model for their fleet of robotic total stations, and how they approach choosing the right technology partners to work with.
Trait #3: Giving young workers the guidance to grow.
Power Design is home to the coolest training program I’ve ever seen: An entire floor of interactive exhibits full of real-world MEP and Systems Technology materials and use cases. The closest thing I can compare it to is a kids’ discovery zone or museum, but with electrical boxes and conduit.
I found it fascinating, but I’m a big nerd who still remembers Computer Lab Day from 6th grade, so I wasn't sure how this area resonates with younger generations. Yet I saw the same thing happen several times: A young or new employee asking a question, and being walked over to the learning area where they got hands-on instruction that prompted even more discussion.
On the jobsite, the mentoring mentality was evident as well. I saw younger leaders being given responsibility, respect, and a voice in how things should be done.
Trait #4: Going all in on prefab.
As Rick Grover, VP of Prefabrication, explains, “We’re in the middle of the industrialization of construction and finding new ways to do things that we’ve done for 20 years gets me energized. We’ve started a prefab division, focused on the field, developed a system, and deployed it. It's just continuous improvement now. We get constant feedback and as an industry, if we’re not prefabbing more and more each year, we are not going to have all the labor to build all these buildings and highways and bridges.”
Watch the videos to get a peek into Power Design’s prefabrication department, how it helps their field teams, and what their plans are for the future.
Trait #5: A drive to win.
I saw a thread of positive competitiveness running through Power Design's culture, and I think they are better for it.
Team goals are gamified with real-time results on display and team flags decorating the gym. Wins are celebrated, with everyone gathering to cheer on the sales rep who closed the latest deal ring while they ring a giant bell.
Field teams across the nation regularly have contests with pretty awesome prizes, so they can always be focused on improving their projects.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to see how Power Design is embracing the concepts we talk about here on Constructible, and a big thank you goes out to their team.