Foundations of Strength: Lessons from a Home Builder (1)


A strong building is constructed on the foundation of a company’s culture. The design is important, of course, as is the precision of the engineering and the quality of the products. But if the company constructing the building has a flawed culture, the building will be flawed. Why?

Disgruntled employees, poor systems and lack of attention to detail all contribute to errors that undermine construction. It can be in less crucial details of trim and finish or essential details of framing, HVAC or plumbing.

I did some marketing work recently for a production home builder in Lancaster, Pa., called Keystone Custom Homes. What I learned very quickly is that the culture the company has created is the essential ingredient in its success of a builder. The measurements for its success were the satisfaction of the buyers and its growth. Ninety-three percent of buyers would recommend Keystone, and during the worst year of the housing recession, its revenue grew by 5 percent.

Accomplishing that can be directly traced to the team that makes up Keystone and to the culture and mission. The company mission statement reads, “Improving Lives by Building Above and Beyond for our Customers, Fellow Team Members and the Global Community.” That “above and beyond” phrase is one you hear in everyday conversation with Keystone people. They believe it.

But even more, the mission statement is driven by “Success Mindsets” and “Success Habits.” In other words, Keystone achieves its mission by helping employees believe certain ways and then reinforcing those with habits of work.

The Keystone Success Mindsets are:

  • Attitude is Everything
  • Integrity is Essential
  • Optimism is Energizing, Negativity is Destructive
  • Learn and Live
  • Lean on Logic
  • True Sense of Urgency

The habit mentioned last seems to me to be the most important because it then pivots to the Keystone Success Habits:

  • Keep Striving for Excellence
  • Know the Score
  • Faster, Smarter, Better
  • Respond Fast, Move Now
  • Date and Time Certain
  • Persist Without Exception
  • Be a Rhino: Charge
  • Encourage Progress, Celebrate Results

You can practically see how a group of people who share those ideals and habits could accomplish great things every day.

In the metal construction industry, there are great stories about company culture and how they drive businesses to excellence. We celebrate those every day with the quality of our buildings, their exceptional design and the innovation of our building products.

I’d love to hear about your company culture and your success.