Dale Hedrick: Aligned With Excellence
We serve an awesome God of perfection and excellence. In the formation of the universe, God didn’t just stop at good; He continued until He had created all living things and then declared that it was very good! Settling for mediocrity means settling for less than God’s plan for us, no matter what we do. For Dale Hedrick and Hedrick Brothers Construction, excellence has set them apart from the competition in South Florida.
Fourth Generation Builder
After graduating from the University of Florida’s M. E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction in 1979, Dale followed in the footsteps of three previous generations and started a general contracting company in West Palm Beach with his brother Paul. When they began, they were the smallest general contracting company in Palm Beach County.
“My father was much smarter than I was. He could run his business by keeping everything in his head. I don’t have that same level of intelligence and figured out early on that in order for me to be effective, I would have to write things down and develop systems and processes to guide the business,” Dale explained. “The emphasis on structure within our business has allowed us to scale our business and grow it much more than my father, grandfather, or great-grandfather were able to do."
"We continually reinvent and refine our business, which has given us the edge to successfully compete with the top construction companies in the Southeast.”
Since their foundation, Hedrick Brothers Construction has become one of the largest privately-owned construction companies in Palm Beach County, with 120 full-time employees and a presence in twelve market areas focusing on commercial, institutional, and high-end residential construction, where they are considered one of the top builders in the area. They were awarded Florida AIA’s Builder of the Year for 2012 and 2014 in addition to numerous other regional and national awards. Their success and growth wasn’t accidental, but through intentional planning and organization.
Applying Servant Leadership
Realizing that times had changed since his father started his business with a “command control” organizational model, Dale believed that a servant leadership model would be more effective. He poured over leadership books by Larry Burkett, John Maxwell and others to glean as much insight about leadership as possible. “I pulled ideas from the wisdom of great men such as these and tailored them to our applications,” Dale explained. Their management team formulated a series of corporate documents aimed at helping to guide the vision and culture of their company. They include a company Mission Statement, Social Contract, Keys to Success, and Fundamentals. “Everybody within the company has to be aligned with the same vision to be a success.”
“One of the great enemies to a successful company is the fear of conflict,” Dale explained. “I was at a local event and heard Jack Welch speaking. He said, ‘Successful companies have food fights.’ I really liked that! It wasn’t long after I’d heard that when we were in a company meeting trying to resolve some issues. I told the group that we needed to have a food fight. One of the quieter people in the room started talking and voicing his opinion like he never had before. I was ecstatic! That was exactly the type of interaction that we needed to have to resolve the issues at hand.”
Dale had been running his company for five years before he became a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Since that time, he has seen a parallel with the biblical principles that God has established and what works in business. “Many of the same truths that we foster in our organization were first introduced by how Jesus lived His life.” Rather than overtly advertising his faith in the marketplace, Dale prefers to have his work and commitment to excellence reflect his faith and reverence for God. “I don’t want people to hire our company because of our faith, I want them to hire the best company for the job. I believe because of the quality of our people, the quality of our work, and our commitment to excellence in all that we do, we are the best company for the job.”
“We’re able to attract and keep the best people in the industry because of our company culture. After getting saved and seeing God’s perspective on leadership, I realized I needed to change how I ran my business. I remember reading Proverbs 3:27, Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. It had a great impact on me, and I realized that God would honor those who have His heart and act accordingly. I listened to Larry Burkett’s Business by the Book series and realized there was a lot I needed to learn about running a God-honoring business, and I’m continually striving to drive and refine our culture. I’ve heard it said that culture will beat talent all day long. I discovered that if I can impact the culture of our business, there will be a positive impact on all of our other business metrics. I see the results of it every day!”
Dale continued, “The young people of today have a completely different mindset, and we’ve had to adjust to that mindset. We now focus on behaviors. When we look at hiring a new employee, we look at their character, personalities, attitudes, and whether they are 'helpable.' We can train them in the technical aspects of the position if they have a good attitude and are open to it, but you can’t train a person’s character. We continue to develop our team by having blind 360-degree evaluations and performance reviews twice a year based on how we treat each other and per our 'Social Contract.' We also have a life coach that helps our employees balance their lives both personally and professionally. We invest in the lives of our people.”
Sowing Good Seed
The construction industry is often a very competitive and cutthroat business. Hedrick Brothers Construction has risen above their competition by staying true to their alignment and vision.
“God has certainly blessed our business. Our reputation in the industry is well known for the integrity and ethics we abide by. If a client is looking to take shortcuts or get kickbacks, they know we’re not that type of company." Dale Hedrick
"We understand the seed-harvest principle that Jesus taught, what you sow is what you reap. We are all about sowing good seed! We have been able to withstand the economic storms by having people who are passionate and focused. This has allowed us to adjust to the market and capital flow. Capital didn’t disappear during the downturn, it shifted, and we were able to adjust to those shifts.”
“I believe that the wisdom and truths that we’ve been able to compile and put into practice in our business have come from God. Over the years I’ve shared them and handed them out to countless other business leaders, so they can apply them to their organizations. The sad and amazing thing that I’ve discovered is that there are very few companies that are able to implement them. I enjoy and believe in the mentoring process and have mentored dozens of people over the years. I want to share what God has done for me with others. I believe that’s why I’m here.”
Dale has been involved with Promise Keepers and the Gathering of Men to help maintain an active role with his faith and is also active in his community serving on numerous boards and committees with civic and professional organizations. His commitment to leadership excellence was recognized recently when he received the 2015 World Leaders Group Servant Leader of the Year Award and was named the 2015 University of Florida M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Construction Management Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Focusing on Eternal Returns
For Dale, success isn’t defined by awards or material wealth; those things fade away. “I like what John Maxwell says about success, ‘When those who are closest to you love you the most.’ My hope is that I’m living my life and running my business in a manner that would produce those results. The most important thing is how do we treat each other and proclaim the Truth. I’m often asked about what wisdom I would give to new business owners. I believe that if you can cast a vision and surround yourself with good people who share that vision and align with it, your business will succeed. As a business owner, you have to constantly seek wisdom and actively apply it. Sometimes that means foregoing short-term gains in place of long-term investment. Love the work that you do, love who you work with, and love those you work for. Whatever you put energy into will grow, good or bad. So be careful where you focus your energy.”
By: Mark Whitaker
Mark Whitaker is the Executive Editor of TwoTen Magazine. He is inspired daily by his God, his wife Kim and his three daughters Hannah, Sarah, and Rhea.Read More Articles by Mark Whitaker