For many employees, the opportunity to invest in the future of the company they work for is not readily available.
That’s what we found in this SRS Distribution Interview.
But at SRS Distribution, the chance to build wealth while also working for a reputable company is just one of the many benefits their employees receive.
According to Dan Tinker, CEO of SRS Distribution, the company is happy to offer this type of compensation package to its employees because SRS believes that everyone should benefit when the company succeeds.
This mentality is one reason why SRS Distribution does over $4 billion in revenue every year, even though the company has only been in business since 2009.
“We are very passionate about what we do,”
“At any good company, it all starts with people, a vision, and a strategy. Luckily, our chairman of the board, myself, and a lot of the teammates had the good fortune of working in the industry for decades, and we saw everything good that was going on in distribution, and everything that wasn’t going well.”
Collectively, the visionaries at SRS Distribution decided that company culture was going to be something they embodied on a daily basis through clear actions designed to elevate everyone within the organization.
“When we started this company, we were able to start from a blank sheet of paper and take all the things we admired about all the companies in the industry, and then take all the things we didn’t admire, and leave that out of the company culture,”
Achieving a company culture that valued employees and their abilities was made easier because back in 2008 Tinker and his team were still a single entity.
“The SRS actually comes from our original acquisition, which was Suncoast Roofers Supply in Florida,”
Before Tinker and his group acquired Suncoast, the company was struggling due to Hurricane Katrina and the housing crisis that rocked many businesses and Americans.
It wasn’t until Tinker’s group assumed control that the company’s misfortunes were reversed.
“We actually bought it [Suncoast] out of bankruptcy in 2008, so we had a management team with no company. We went out and found the company and now since then we’ve bought 91 other companies to add to it and we’ve opened 140 additional locations,”
Today, SRS Distribution now has 440 total locations, with 340 of those belonging to the roofing division and an additional 110 locations being devoted to a new landscaping supply division.
Tinker insists that this meteoric rise was always something he envisioned because of the way they integrated their employees into the company.
“We always knew we were going to be successful, and that we would have a model that would resonate with owners and get people to join us because of the people-first culture and the equity opportunity,”
“One of our strengths is we have the broadest equity ownership of the employee base. All 6,000 of our associates are co-owners of the company, but we are not an ESOP [Employee Stock Ownership Plan]. We have big private equity sponsors, so we have all the capital we need to go chase acquisitions, grow the company, invest heavily, and take risks. The employees don’t have to fund all of that, but they get to ride along and benefit from that wealth creation.”
If the numbers are any indicator, the employees at SRS Distribution certainly have enjoyed the massive success of the company, with many having achieved financial freedom simply by remaining loyal to the company.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is we’ve created more millionaires among our company employees than every other company in our industry in the last decade,”
“Right now, over 150 employees are already millionaires, including a warehouseman who makes $18 an hour that bought some stock back in 2008. That’s what’s life changing. That’s what gets us out of bed in the morning and fired up to do what we do.”
Of course, many companies would like to replicate the success of SRS Distribution, and while it’s common for CEOs to talk about the importance of a work culture, few actually are fostering that type of environment.
That is why Tinker is such a strong proponent of constructing a legitimate culture, one in which the employees get speeding tickets coming to work instead of on the way home.
“A lot of it comes from my core philosophies,”
Tinker says in further describing how SRS Distribution has built their culture.
“It starts with dreaming big and being bold. I always said that small goals don’t stir people’s souls. If you want to motivate and inspire people, dream big, think big, and act big.”
“Even when we were a small six-location company back in 2008, we strategically chose to buy companies in Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, and Georgia to tell the industry we are not going to stay a small regional Florida company. We are going coast to coast right out of the gate. Everything we’ve done is with intent, but it goes back to what I said about a people-first culture.”
This is welcome news for the roofing industry, and roofing business owners in particular, some of whom have struggled to engender trust and a healthy working relationship with their distributor.
Tinker says his company also focused on developing relationships with roofing contractors in the same way SRS did with their employees. Doing so has mitigated any tension that previously existed between a roofer and his distributor, and also enabled both the roofing contractor and SRS to profit from each other’s success.
“We were watching big companies in our industry get very myopic and focused on process, procedure, and rigor, and we thought they were taking the fun out of running the business. The great thing about the roofing industry is there are amazing people in it, and we wanted to be the home for people that had the relationships with the roofing contractors and the relationships with our suppliers.”
“We still today consider all of our suppliers and customers as personal friends, and all of our employees as part of our family.”
As we have learned, connectedness is important to ensuring a business can have an inspiring and motivating culture, but that endeavor cannot be accomplished by simply relying on fancy slogans.
Instead, that pursuit has to be genuine.
“Culture is not something you put on a PowerPoint presentation or on the wall,” says Tinker. “Culture can only be measured by the vibe and energy when you walk through an office. The employees either love their company or they can’t wait for five o’clock so they can get out the door and go home.”
How much do you value culture in your company?
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