A Customer-Centered Approach to Construction
Large-volume general contracting company Wier Enterprises has found a great deal of success by focusing on culture, core values, and building relationships.
The company was founded in 1991 by Steve Wier, a construction science graduate from Texas A&M University. Under his leadership, Wier Enterprises developed a reputation for integrity and providing a service upon which people could depend. As a result, in just under thirty years, the company has grown from a small, family-owned operation to one earning more than $188 million of revenue in 2018.
In our previous interview with Steve Wier, he explained that the company’s success is built on a simple principle: keeping owners happy. Companies work with companies that they like, and Wier Enterprises has been able to build relationships that keep customers coming back.
That is still the heart of the company’s business approach, but since that interview, many other things have changed. The company has seen continued growth, built its first expansion outside of Houston, and is concentrating on building expertise in new customer segments, but one of the most significant changes has been a transition of leadership to new company president, Clint Sanford.
Having eighteen years of experience at the company, and previously working in the role of vice president, Sanford was prepared for the transition but says that Steve Wier left some big shoes to fill. “I’ve worked with Steve for eighteen years, and we worked together to build this company to where it is now. Many of my business philosophies are what he has instilled in me over the years. He has left us with an incredible business plan, so there’s no reason to change what he has set in place. Steve is, and will always be, an integral part of this company and who we are,” says Sanford.
Sanford is now in the president’s chair, but Steve Wier’s retirement is, as yet, only partial. Although he is no longer a part of the day-to-day operations, he still works with customers, maintaining the many long-tenured relationships he has developed throughout his career, and his philosophy and work ethic remain at the very center of the company.
According to Sanford, his goal is not to change that blueprint but to carry it forward and to adapt it to the ever-evolving construction market. Sanford aims to lead the company to further success while maintaining the culture and values that have been the cornerstones of success.
The company’s attention to building relationships has resulted in much repeat business. Customers that work with Wier come back for future projects because of the quality of the work, attention to detail, and level of customer service. Wier was built on the idea that, by working closely with the client to understand their needs and making every effort to keep them happy and confident in the project, business would keep coming, and over the years, it has.
“Our current repeat customers are our lifeline, and we are always working hard to develop new customers so we can be their go-to general contractor of choice. I believe our relationships and how we treat our clients is one of our greatest assets,” says Sanford.
The company has worked on an assortment of project types, but two particular building categories have always been significant: the automotive and medical sectors. Because of its emphasis on customer service, word of mouth has been a key component of its marketing. This meant that developing expertise and doing good work for one automotive customer lead to many more opportunities in that sector.
During the early days of the company, a private practice boom in Houston resulted in a large number of kidney dialysis treatment clinic projects cropping up around the city. When a company makes an effort to form a relationship with the customer, that customer talks. Soon Wier found itself a go-to contractor for that sector as well.
The construction industry is volatile, and the needs of the market can change drastically and very quickly. Early 2019 arrived with a challenge for the company. Opportunities in the two sectors around which Wier had always received much of its steady workflow had slowed significantly.
For Wier, this slow start highlighted the importance of diversifying its customer base and being aggressive in other markets. As a result of this realization, the company has put additional emphasis on industrial complexes and facilities, medical office buildings, retail centers, convenience stores, specific retailers, and aviation projects.
This plan to diversify will enable the company to continue its current upward trend and maintain its position as a leader in the region. The construction market in Texas is growing, and there is an increasing number of qualified general contractors working in Wier’s operating territory, but the company believes that its reputation for customer service and its high standard for quality work will make it stand apart.
“This is why we believe it is so important to take care of the client better than anyone else out there. We believe the competition cannot do what we do when it comes to going the extra mile with our clients,” says Sanford.
Wier has embarked on increasing its online marketing efforts to improve its competitive position. While the company’s leadership still believes that its performance, customer service, and reputation are vital for bringing in new business through word-of-mouth, Sanford stresses that, in the modern digital age, the company will need to take advantage of the many online marketing opportunities. Wier is in the process of revamping its website toward that goal.
In 2018, the company finished the year by reaching the $188 million mark for the first time, and 2019, although it had a slow start, proved to be another great year of growth. By diversifying its portfolio and seeking work in a broader range of business sectors, the list of planned projects for 2020 is already very promising – especially since many of the projects delayed in the start of 2019 have gained momentum and will start in the first quarter of 2020.
In the future, Wier aims to make its current relationships even stronger and pursue clients in new sectors. “We are obviously capable of building anything that comes our way,” says Sanford, “and we want to be proud of and not forget what got us to where we are, but we want to get our foot in the door with new clients and architects for the upcoming years.”
Based on the build-up of planned projects, Wier is confident that the market in Texas will remain steady for the next two years. To capitalize on the opportunities that come with a strong market, the company is looking to open a satellite office in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. It has had a presence in that region for over a decade with five full-time superintendents and a stable network of subcontractors, but without a physical location in the area, it is still perceived as an out of town contractor. The company believes that opening an office there will help to redirect that perception and bring in more business from Dallas-Fort Worth.
The Alegacy Business Park in Waller County, Texas is an eighty-seven-acre development with which Wier has been involved since it began in 2015. The company is currently working on building number six, but twenty crane-served buildings and additional office space are planned.
Sewell Automotive has brought on Wier for the multiphase construction of its flagship Lexus dealership in Dallas. This will be the eighth project Wier has worked on with Sewell.
These are just a few of the long-standing relationships the company has built. These companies come back time after time because Wier has earned their confidence.
After nearly three decades in business, Wier still finds success through building relationships. From the company’s earliest days, Steve Wier understood that to stand out in a highly-competitive market, you have to put customers first. Today, under Clint Sanford’s leadership the company is growing, diversifying, and seeking new avenues for promotion, but the foundation of a customer-centered approach to construction remains.
“I tell clients all the time that I can tell them how great we are, but that I believe the people we partner with and work for are our best representation of who we are and how we have done business over the last twenty-eight years,” says Sanford.