In West Michigan, Burgess Concrete Construction is a household name synonymous with quality construction. Speaking with its President, Carroll Burgess, is refreshing. For this leader, cultivating happy people within his business and its eco-system is a driving force that’s far stronger than pursuing growth merely for its own sake.
Burgess Concrete primarily serves general contractors and construction managers within an hour and a half’s drive of Grand Rapids, while sometimes traveling further afield. The company’s commitment to quality, dependability, and partnership have led to a portfolio of consistently well-built K-12 schools, healthcare facilities, industrial buildings, and much more over its nearly forty years in business. This is a small, family-owned company with a big heart and an even bigger commitment to delivering services and products in a way that builds longstanding, meaningful relationships with staff and customers alike.
Building a team
Carroll Burgess worked his way up from the bottom, starting over weekends and during school holidays by sweeping floors and stacking lumber shoulder to shoulder with his siblings. As the brothers matured, they began working on job sites learning firsthand what it means to run crews and get their hands dirty. That built a healthy respect for their staff, as these are not leaders who force others to do work they would not do themselves.
“My brother Steve and I will always ensure that things are right before we enter into any situation,” Burgess says. “The same goes for our people. We love a challenge, the opportunity to prove people wrong.” One thing is clear. This is a family with a can-do attitude that also loves finding solutions where others see none.
Today, Burgess Concrete Construction is an employer dedicated to team safety, health, and job satisfaction. As such, the company also prioritizes offering its people career stability, and it is as family-positive as it can be. “We are a dependable company that brings value back to our clients—but also back to our employees, and their households and communities as well,” Burgess shares.
To be sure, the close-knit, hometown atmosphere at Burgess Concrete is one of its biggest draws, and Carroll Burgess is doing all he can to retain that. With ninety trusted industry experts by his side, this leader feels they can take on whatever comes. “Our people are dedicated individuals who do their part to create the story of Burgess Concrete,” he says proudly.
To thank this stalwart team for its unfailing loyalty, the company sponsors several staff events every year. Get-togethers like summertime picnics, baseball games with everybody’s families gathered around al fresco cook-outs, and a Christmas party—complete with staff recognition, gifts, bonuses, and all-around fun—are just a few of its regular tokens of appreciation. Burgess Concrete’s generosity of spirit also extends to its local communities, ensuring that people are taken care of and supported across several fields, sharing part of its profits with some schools and organizations in the immediate area.
As this is what Burgess calls a “generational” company, the leadership does all it can to make it an environment that its staff’s children would like to join one day. In search of top-class character and grit, Burgess highlights that this is a firm with open doors to those who are a natural fit for its family values and industry-leading standards.
“Concrete construction is not easy,” he says. “It is probably one of the most labor-intensive industries out there.” To ensure it always has the right amount of expertise out in the field, the company invests in solid on-the-job training.
To this end, the business has joined forces with West Michigan Construction Institute. The collaboration provides its teams with quality, certified training that sets them apart on job sites and propels their careers ever higher as they continuously improve their skills. The courses run over three months, with one paid workday per week dedicated entirely to their studies at the institute.
Building its skills
Indeed, Burgess Concrete is always looking for new ways to improve. “We are always upgrading and improving the processes that we have. We are always upgrading our equipment [and investing in] the latest technology,” Burgess says. The company also employs a full-time mechanic to keep machinery and equipment running like clockwork. Other measures are also in place to minimize breakdowns, allowing the team to get on with business when and where it matters most.
The company’s most recently introduced division also performs concrete polishing and, judging by its rapid expansion, the service is tremendously popular. “This growth [of our concrete polishing division] has allowed us to grow a little bit too,” says Burgess, “and to give opportunities to more people to have a career here at Burgess Concrete.”
Of course, keeping up with technology to answer the demand for such work is critical to the company’s long-term success. One item of technology that supports Burgess’ commitment to quality is a measurement tool that attaches to a geometer gun. The instrument vastly improves the accuracy of building layouts, and is an essential part of Burgess Concrete’s arsenal.
In terms of protecting people’s health and the environment it works in, the company also invests in high-quality vacuuming systems that remove dust from the air when cutting concrete. These protect the environment, site workers’ health, and those who live and work in the immediate areas around such building sites.
Building the future
Speaking about the future and looking at how the industry will change, Burgess remains positive. In his opinion, the stigma that taints the construction industry as dirty or dangerous will soon be a thing of the past, spurred by growing demand and the increasingly sophisticated nature of the work.
Technology will not be able to replace people working in construction, however. That is because physical labor provides intelligent human input of an artistic, organic, and intuitively skilled nature that machine learning simply is not capable of at this stage. And, thanks to this fact, Carroll Burgess is considerably more focused on creating an environment rich in personal growth opportunities for his team than on growing market share.
“I do not need huge growth,” he says. “The growth we need revolves around the question of, ‘how do I make sure and allow staff to grow personally?’ If I cannot allow them [personal growth], then none of the other stuff matters to me.” With a healthy roster of young talent coming up to fill the positions of retiring seasoned professionals, such personal growth is paramount to the future success of the company.
This drive gives substance to the company’s ethos. Following their parents’ legacy, the Burgess siblings are committed to taking care of the future for the next generation. Carroll Burgess puts it best when he says, “We are building West Michigan, constructing careers, and developing a future for the next generation.” And those are noble pursuits indeed.