Cultivating Company Culture: Cascade Construction

Words: Ron Adams

Words: Ron Adams, President of Cascade Construction
Photos: Cascade Construction

MASONRY Magazine recently talked with Ron Adams, the President of Cascade Construction out of Lakewood, Washington about how he approaches company culture at the second-generation masonry company. 

About Cascade Construction

Cascade Construction is a proudly second-generation family business – and our roots in masonry are even deeper – our great grandfather was a bricklayer and grandfather was a hodcarrier. Our father, Ron A. Adams, started helping his dad at age 15 as a hodcarrier during the summers and on Saturdays in his hometown of Phoenix, AZ. Ron A. moved to Tacoma, WA for a job with Weyerhaeuser, but left to start Adams Building in 1977 changing the name to Cascade Construction in the early 80’s, focusing on industrial and specialty concrete work for much of the late 80’s and 90’s. 

Growing up, Ron E. always wanted to go to work with dad, and on occasion might have skipped school to go help on a concrete pour. In 1999, our uncle Jim (a union bricklayer) approached Ron A. about working together, and they agreed to start bidding masonry work. Ron E. was quickly recruited to “do the paperwork.” He spent many days and nights learning how to read plans and specifications and became the estimator, project manager, truck driver, yard guy, office manager, and Vice President.

The company started to grow quickly, by January of 2000 we had signed an agreement with the bricklayers Local 1 WA and in June of 2000 Jim came to work for the company full time and we started our first retail masonry building. We continued to grow and in 2007 Ryan joined the company upon graduation from the University of Arizona College of Law; it is a true dream come true for our dad to have 2 of his kids working in the business he started before either were born.

In 2009 Ron E. became the President and Ryan became Vice President. Ron A. started to slow down but continued to help out, so long as it didn’t involve any paperwork. Through the leadership of Ron E. and Ryan, along with many conversations with dad, and long hours from our entire team, we were able to navigate through the great recession to come out as a very strong company. In 2019 we were awarded our 1,000th job which was completed in 2020.

2019 was a year of change for Cascade Construction, and we finished construction of our new warehouse facility and moved into a new office complex. We wish our dad could have been there for opening day of the new office, but he had a fishing trip planned— and after all, at 75 fishing is more important than a shiny desk. Until Ron A. passed away in April of 2021, he would still stop by the office to check his email and say hi when he was in town. We have a growing team of dedicated professionals – and we hope masonry will be as good to their families as it has been to ours.

The Foundation, A Culture Of Care

Ron explained that Cascade’s company culture has its roots in a visit from the Washington Associated General Contractors. 

“Several years ago Washington AGC came out with the Culture of Care, we were one of the first companies to sign onto it. Since then I have been focusing on how to build a better culture and to improve the culture we have.”

According to the Washington AGC’s website, the Culture of Care is comprised of a few components all aimed at creating an environment of inclusion and diversity. 

“The Culture of CARE initiative responds to current workforce needs, and the need to bring opportunities in construction to traditionally underrepresented groups, such as people of color and women. We hereby ask our member companies to join us in boldly committing to a Culture of CARE to foster greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

An intentional and practical culture shift toward diversity and inclusion can positively impact company profitability by improving employee productivity, recruiting and retaining top talent, increasing innovation and creating a safer workplace.

As an industry leader, AGC of Washington fully embraces and spotlights diversity within our membership by providing leadership-development and career-advancement opportunities to all who work in the construction industry, and business-development and growth opportunities for all construction companies through education and networking.”

Ron continued, explaining that Cascade’s culture starts with their values. “Teamwork, Integrity, Community, Sustainability, Quality, and Safety. If people are working with these items in mind at every level it creates a positive work environment where everyone can enjoy coming to work.”

Maintaining Cascade’s Culture

Cascade’s statement on their website echoes the Culture of Care mission statement. 

“We pledge to commit our leadership and resources to fostering a Culture of CARE at every level and in all aspects of our company. Through this commitment, we seek to attract and promote diversity in our industry; retain and value human relationships; and empower us all to harness and engage the power of diversity for the benefit of our industry and community.”

Ron explained that while establishing the corporate values and culture is important, maintaining it is an even bigger priority.

“I have been making it a point to visit jobsites on a regular basis to connect with our field employees and take any concerns they have back to the office to be addressed, then follow up with them on the resolution and/or include them in coming up with a resolution.”

Ron also highlighted how important it is for dialogue to be an integral part of maintaining corporate culture, and it starts from the beginning. 

“Get to know new hires, make sure that they will fit within your organization’s culture and their personal values align with your company values. If you don’t have core values and a mission statement create one, involve others in your organization if you’re creating this for the first time. It is critical to have buy-in from all key people in the organization.”

This continues throughout the entire onboarding process through the working relationship. 

“Listen to employees and take feedback to the appropriate person so that things can move forward. Be aware if someone is not acting in alignment with the core values [and] coach them so they can act within the values of the company. Live the values as a leader, make decisions based on the values of the company, and don’t tolerate people in your organization to not live up to the core values.”

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