Cultivating Company Culture: DRP Masonry

Words: Donnie Williams

Words: Donnie Williams, DRP Masonry
Photos: DRP Masonry

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Donnie Williams, the President of DRP Masonry out of Monroe, Louisiana, about how his company approaches fostering company culture.

Donnie is an active member of the MCAA, and was one of the three mason contractors responsible for refreshing and teaching the new Foreman Development Course program. DRP Masonry is a fourth-generation mason contracting company about to embark on its fifth generation.

The Foundation

“The previous generation in our family masonry contracting business was founded on grinding out a living [with] one or two projects. [It’s] a culture of getting to work early, working hard and fast all day, then going home late,” said Donnie.

Don Williams, Donnie’s father and the son-in-law to Curtis McVay of Curtis McVay Brickworks, realized the potential in larger commercial projects. He obtained his license to perform work over $50,000 and created Williams Brickworks. His brother, Dennis, helped him get into large projects like hospitals, schools, and prisons. This allowed them to build a name in north Louisiana and north Mississippi.

Enter Donnie and Philip Williams, Don’s two sons. Don instilled his work ethic, project management skills, and business mind he had obtained from many years in the world of commercial masonry. By 2014, the elder Don Williams had started to retire, and turned his business over to his sons, which formed DRP Masonry.

DRP Masonry’s history goes back nearly a century, but the company has made strides in adapting as they’ve grown.

“We have since adapted into more of a systems and procedures culture, due to growth. We have implemented core values and leadership training,” said Donnie.

DRP’s Company Culture

There are five main components to DRP’s approach to company culture: safety, relationships, accountability, vision, and quality.

On safety, Donnie and his team prioritize that above all other considerations.

“That’s become more and more important in our industry in the recent years. The lives and well-being of our employees and other trades working around us are paramount. We can say that over the years, we have always had a good standing when it comes to injury on jobsites. We pride ourselves in this, but we also know that anything can happen. We aim to start over every morning and revisit safety concerns daily. Some of the goals that we strive to meet are not only loss of life, but loss of time and limited aggravations that can be caused by injury. We understand that when we slack and someone on our team gets hurt, it affects everyone on the jobsite, so we always attempt to steer clear. Our future endeavors include training and displaying mindfulness to safety by making safety part of the discussions and planning along with our other core values.”

When it comes to relationships, investing in employees is key.

“We build more than buildings at DRP. We build long lasting relationships. To do so, we give our time, talents, and resources to invest in not only our customers, but also our employees.  We have a dedicated team of many, making it an easy task to reach us.  We believe that communication is one of our most powerful tools. Our company has been around for many generations and many generations to come. This is something that we take a lot of pride in and is much of what drives our brand. We will continue to cultivate this in the generations to come and pursue to build deep rooted relationships forever.”

Mistakes happen, and the team at DRP Masonry views mistakes as part of the path to growth.

“At DRP, we believe that for a company to grow, you must make mistakes. In making mistakes, you must also though, learn from those mistakes and make a conscious effort in admitting and reconditioning.  We have the mindset that it is important to take constructive criticism, face challenges head on, and get better and better with every project. We are not above making mistakes, but how we confront our mistakes is what sets us apart.”

Having a vision and bringing creativity into meeting challenges is another ingredient in DRP’s recipe for company culture success.

“Albert Einstein once said, ‘Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.’ As we as a company have grown into many new areas over the years, we have been met with challenges. We believe that these mountains we have had to climb have made us better all around. Our company’s vision of our industry and of ourselves.”

Ensuring projects are completed with a high standard of quality is paramount, but DRP aims to go one step further.

“Surpassing expectations is so profoundly satisfying, and that is our goal in quality. This commitment to quality extends to every aspect of our projects. From our employees, down to the brick, block, and wall ties. We make a commitment to always do our absolute best and strive to always keep other trades and schedules in mind. Our reputation in the quality of our work is much more to us than just what meets the eye, but in providing a sound experience throughout the entirety of the project and includes all other areas of our core values. We refuse to compromise and will try in beginning every day with a discussion of our values, so that we can become ‘the masonry standard.’”

Maintaining The Culture

DRP’s approach to maintaining their company’s culture is to continue learning.

“We continue to seek out new and innovative leadership practices.  Not only to be more productive, but also be more connected with our own people but also the GC’s, architects and owners we work for.  Also, to attract new talent to our company.”

As for making sure leadership has a finger on the pulse for the projects being worked on, Donnie explains that they are hands on.

“Here at DRP, we encourage jobsite visits with two of our leaders as often as possible. A Senior Project Manager and an Office Project Engineer do a ‘ride-along’ to a jobsite and walk the job with the onsite Foreman. Sometimes an Estimator and General Superintendent will go thru the same practice. [We do this] with many other combinations of a senior and junior position. This builds the team and helps to ensure that our culture is carried along in each process.”

Finally, enjoying time outside of work together is one of the key’s to DRP’s company environment.

“Breaking bread is another very effective way to build and maintain culture. We have it as part of our monthly budget for our leadership to take one another out to eat at a nice restaurant.”

In summation, Donnie reinforces that good leadership and culture starts at the top. Leadership has to buy in to the values and live them.

“From myself down we attend training classes.  Ranging on topics from safety, leadership, lean, SCRUM, and building envelope meetings.”

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