West Virginia contractor inspires devotion through his own loyalty to others
| January 28, 2013
We live in a fickle world.
We’re so often willing to abandon what we know and like for the latest and greatest, or as a result of a slight (real or perceived). Construction is no different; many contractors will tell you half their labor will run down the street and work for someone else for a dollar an hour more.
That’s why visiting our Contractor of the Year finalists is so refreshing. They excel in a lot of different ways, but one of the most impressive is retention. They succeed where others fail in keeping people around for the long haul.
Last week, I spent time with Danny and Deanna Williams of Dan’s Marine Service, based in Grafton, West Virginia. In an area where qualified labor is in short supply, Danny has turned employee retention into an art form. I think it’s in part because treating his employees well is second nature to Danny, but he also practices what he preaches.
When talking about the early days of his business, Danny raved about not only the patience of his employees, but also talked about his bonding agent, his fuel supplier and everyone else who stuck with him through the rocky times. Today, he wouldn’t consider leaving these people, no matter the discount or offer promised him by a competitor.
His foreman, Jeff McLean, has been with Danny for 24 years. He often went weeks, sometimes more than a month, without being able to cash his paycheck. Today, Jeff thinks of the Williams’ as family. “Danny’s like my brother,” he says. “He tries to help everyone. He loans us money, gives us trucks to drive and makes sure I have whatever I need.” Phil Cosner, Danny’s shop superintendent, agrees. “I’ve been a mechanic for 35 years, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been this happy,” he says. “I love him.”
For Danny and Deanna, showing loyalty to others has paid off in a big way. There’s an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect between the couple and their employees, clients and vendors, and it translates to a job well done. “We all make good money,” says Jeff, “but we do what we need to. We’ll work longer hours and on weekends. We do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Stories from the Contractor of the Year class of 2013 will begin in the magazine and on the website in May. Be sure and keep an eye out for Danny’s story.