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“How about some basketball tonight?”
It turns out that Brad Phillip’s question to me was less about cheering on the Wright State Raiders (who won 77 to 67 that night against Youngstown State) than it was about fulfilling a commitment to the Boy Scouts, who were using a box at the Wright State stadium for an organizational meeting.
This type of community involvement is part and parcel of how Brad, one of Equipment World’s 2014 Contractor of the Year finalists, operates.
In addition to the Boy Scouts (“I wasn’t a part of it when my son was growing up, and I now want to support all the great things they do”), Brad has served as local Chamber of Commerce president and is on the trustees for Clark State Community College. “The average age of the students there is 28. The education they receive gives them an opportunity to get out of the gate,” he says.
Brad is part of the third generation that runs Phillips Companies, Beavercreek, Ohio. The company has three main divisions: aggregate production, ready-mix, and Brad’s division, excavating. “I can’t think of a time when I didn’t think I wasn’t going into construction,” he says. “It’s what all the people around me were doing and I wanted to be like them. Plus, it’s fascinating; I like figuring things out, and seeing the results.”
After graduating from Purdue, the construction management grad spent time outside of the family business, gaining both lifelong mentors, and an appreciation for how things are done on the outside. “The goal is to always have something to perpetuate,” Brad says, and even though his son is studying construction management at Bowling Green, “I still don’t want to pressure him.”
Brad appreciates that Phillips Companies is a survivor of the Great Recession. “All of the owners took dramatic compensation cuts, we went to four-day weeks during the winter, and looked at every vendor early-pay discount,” he recounts.
And while their bonding company reviews have become much more detailed, the company has benefitted from the downturn, snagging two managers, Dave Warner and Pete Marshall, from downsizing companies.
And the company has profited from joining Aileron, a non-profit designed to help small business owners, located in nearby Tipp City, Ohio, started by Iams founder Clay Mathile. “Brad came back from their Course for Presidents completely on fire,” Brad’s wife Patti told me while we were watching basketball the night before. “It’s helping us take the next step,” Brad says.
“One of our partners told me that tough times make you better. We’re getting repeatable systems that make sense and developing a transparency of information with our people. We want to hire good people, and let them do their job.”