June 8, 1992 was a big day for BHC RHODES. Known as the founding day, each year it is celebrated as a reflection on how far the firm has come. Having the same founding partners, this year was particularly exciting as it marked 25 years in business. Relics from the past made an appearance on the special day like the company’s very first computer and the Executive Vice President’s first mileage log. Celebration aside, it hasn’t always been a clear path to success. Having navigated 25 years in business here are the top 5 takeaways to hopefully inspire other entrepreneurs to keep pushing forward in their ventures.
Top 5 Takeaways in 25 years
Over the last 25 years the firm has weathered a boom and bust and a multitude of economic uncertainty. If it weren’t for being flexible and agile within the marketplace it’s very likely you wouldn’t be reading this blog post. But it’s because of those lessons that we believe it is so important to share what we have learned within the engineering industry.
To begin, the firm set out with a focus on telecommunications but had to adjust with the changing market in the early 2000s. This caused differentiation of service offerings by expanding into other markets. This pointed their attention to opportunities within commercial development, public works and surveying. However, things changed again as the real estate market collapsed in 2008 and the recession set in. “People lost their jobs, but people weren’t turning in their cellphones,” said Bill Brungardt, E.V.P. and Director of Utilities Services in an interview. As the other services became unstable, the telecom/utilities sector started to rise again helping to keep the firm balanced.
“BHC RHODES scaled back its work force when the economy slumped as a survival tactic. Then it went on offense.” – Kansas City Business Journal Dec. 30, 2011
As with any new venture there is a level of risk involved. While taking risks can be sometimes be a negative thing, it’s how one handle’s the situation that makes all the difference. For BHC RHODES there was risk in adding additional service segments and expanding into new markets. While some of the decisions were reactionary to the economy, most were strategic moves that ultimately paid off. In an interview with Kansas City Business Journal, President Kevin Honomichl stated, “We were responding to just being hammered by the market, we have clearly come through stronger.”
As a strategic next move, the founders merged with a beacon of the local surveying industry, Rhodes Surveyors Inc. “We continually look for ways to provide better service to our customers, and adding surveying was the next piece of the equation,” BHC RHODES President Kevin Honomichl said in a 2005 written release.
The company motto is “no problem.” What that really comes down to is always helping customers be successful, even when they don’t know how. A major part of that is constantly being innovative and helping customers overcome obstacles however possible. While this takes many forms, over the years there have been some standout innovations that really moved the bar in the industry. In 2009, BHC RHODES received a national award for innovation in 3D laser scanning by color-coding point clouds to show the customer how far the masonry walls strayed from the vertical. In 2011, Vice President Matt Brungardt set-up a database and developed a planning and tracking map to create a traffic signal inventory system for the City of Kansas City, Missouri RFID data. More recently the smart city movement and adoption of IoT has us innovating again. Just last year Opti Site Selection Service was created as our new wireless service offering to assist with the placement of small cells. Whatever the industry may be, by staying knowledgeable on the latest developments allows you to find areas where innovation is possible to help others succeed.
Invest in Success:
Company culture is a mainstay for drawing and retaining top talent in the industry. With that in mind it is critical for companies to invest in the success of their workforce. BHC RHODES believes in this wholeheartedly by placing a great deal of importance on investing in talent. This was reflected in their newly innovated office designs which facilitate mobility and learning. “At BHC RHODES, continuing education is a core value, President Kevin Honomichl said. Having that education base has drove the company’s success and helped it get off the ground, he said. BHC RHODES focuses on developing employees by funding continuing education at the college level and hosting regular development seminars on site that cover a variety of topics.” They also foster higher education in engineering through partnerships with Kansas State University.
Look to the Future:
While it’s fun to look back and reflect, it’s critical to success to keep looking forward. With a constant focus on customer service to differentiate, we are always looking for ways to refine processes and innovate where possible. While no one knows what the future holds, we are optimistic about the outlook for the industry.