2017 Best In Business: The Law Company
Jun 9, 2017
Excellence at The Law Company begins at the top and runs through every employee.
Why? Because the Company is an ESOP — an employee stock ownership plan company, employee-owned.
“Our culture is really strong,” says Rich Kerschen, the chairman of the board. “We have people who’ve worked for us 25 to 40 years, and it’s a system we’ve seen work so well for us over the years. We want to be productive and profitable so we share the results with the people who produce those results for us.”
It’s a company built on communication and feedback, with company president Dennis Kerschen leading the way. He provides the communication and expectations for the company in monthly operations meetings he chairs, attended by all the stakeholders.
In addition, the company hosts meetings twice a year with superintendents and assistants “so they understand our values, our commitments and our expectations,” Rich Kerschen says.
“Since Law has built projects in 39 different states, communication and feedback is critical for us and our clients, and for the success of our efforts,” he says. “If we don’t have that, this could go south in a heartbeat. We are in a low margin business with little or no room for error.”
But as an ESOP company, Law has little problem with employee investment — figuratively or literally.
“Each and every employee wants the company to be successful,” Rich Kerschen says. “I think as a result of that it becomes a very important connection to the results of our efforts. If they look at a decision as if it affects them and their and their family directly, it looks different to them than someone working daily as a wage-earner.
“It’s not unusual for us to have someone spend 35 to 40 years with us. Our hope is when they look at the decisions they make for the company, they make it in the same way they’d look at a decision in their personal lives.”
What Law needs is more of those employees.
“Right now, like every other construction employer, we’re concerned about the availability of quality employees,” Rich Kerschen says. “We need talent, and so much left the industry after the 2008 downturn. They went different directions and we’ve had a hell of a time enticing some of those people back into the business.”
Younger builders have grown unwilling to travel, afraid of the family demands of being gone all week.
So Law, like many other builders, has turned to the college construction programs throughout the state of Kansas.
Another issue for Law is the economy itself.
“The economy in Wichita and in Kansas, it has not improved and come back like other areas of the country like Denver, Colorado and Texas,” Rich Kerschen says. “We’re just kind of loafing along here.
“I’m not saying the economy is bad necessarily, but it hasn’t bounced back entirely.”
Law is also proud of its community involvement, winning the Spirit of Caring Award from United Way six times in the last 14 years, with 100 percent employee participation.
Bill Wilson, Managing Editor Wichita Business Journal