What prompted your visit?
Several things of interest for us. First, we have purchased some property (8 acres) and will be building a new fab shop and admin office area in the coming years. We knew that Baker Group was in the pre-fab arena so we wanted to see how they had things laid out and what worked well for them. We also wanted to hear what struggles they have with their current environment, what they would have done differently, and what they would never do again.
What other things did you talk about?
We also had briefly visited with Dale over the phone about their bonus structures and business unit margins. We have had a few struggles with some of our managers not trusting our financial numbers and wanted to see where we fell compared to other players in our arena. Dale was very welcoming and invited us to sit in with several of their team leaders to discuss Baker Group’s formats and business models since we were coming up to check out the shop.
Is there anything you’ve planned on changing or implementing as a result of your visit?
There was lots of great ideas on the shop layout and we will likely have some growing pains of our own as we will not be setting up a shop the size of theirs but hope to grow to that level someday. We will also be utilizing several of their ideas to formulate our bonus structure. We have already changed our refrigerant tracking model as we honestly felt like their policy left the company with less exposure and likely held a tighter due diligence aspect to the way they would have to account for any missing refrigerant.
Was there anything that surprised you?
We were pleasantly surprised that our current business model doesn’t vary too far from theirs. Having our construction manager there to see and hear it was comforting. We can trust that we are giving them the best opportunity to be successful.
What was your biggest takeaway?
One of my biggest takeaways was their ability to communicate to all levels of their team from top down. I was very impressed with how they conducted the meetings that they let us set in on and even more importantly, I was impressed with the culture of that organization. They have a great thing going up there in corn country!
Anything else to share with us?
Overall it was well worth our time investment to sit down with a company that runs so well and get to view it from the inside out. We know their time is valuable, so we are forever indebted to the entire team at Baker Group (and Craig from Oklahoma Chiller, who dialed in to discuss financials) for making the time and having the patience to sit down with us.