If you click on the Benjamin Obdyke “About Us” web page, you can’t miss the photo of our founder, Benjamin P. Obdyke—along with a twitch of his mustache and a friendly raise of his eyebrows. That glint of humor is subtle, yet indicative of the culture that permeates our company more than 150 years after its founding. Though Benjamin Obdyke is known for housewrap, flashing, and roofing innovations, our carefully tended workplace culture plays an additional role in the customer service you receive and the products you buy.
The Right People in the Right Seats
Like every company, who we are and how we work starts with our people. And President and Owner Dave Campbell doesn’t make a secret out of the type of person who makes Benjamin Obdyke shine. A sign in his office reads, “If you think you’ve arrived, this isn’t the place for you.” In other words, Benjamin Obdyke hires the best people—who don’t flaunt that they’re the best people.
“You have to have the right people and they have to work well together,” Campbell says. “Only then can you look at the business strategies and financials. If you focus on the financials first, it doesn’t work as well.”
Most importantly, that mentality bleeds over to other relationships, from suppliers to customers. “They get a sense of fun, of humility,” Campbell says. “It makes us more effective listeners. We’re humble enough to know we don’t have all the answers.” And the company recognizes that it works both ways, that managers must recognize what motivates their people. “As an owner, my goal is to build shareholder value, but I realize that’s not necessarily what drives others.,” Campbell notes. “Individuals are driven by different things, so we have to tap into what that is and align that with what we’re trying to accomplish as a company.”
Find the Fun
If you’re a Benjamin Obdyke customer, you’ve likely seen infusions of fun from time to time, whether that’s the presence of the founder’s famous mustache around the website or our crew flexing their comedy skills in holiday videos. For Campbell, it’s about creating an environment he himself would want to be a part of—and he’s happy to be accused of stirring the pot and getting team members out of their comfort zones.
“For me, it’s the environment I want to be in,” he explains. “But if I truly believe I want to see people grow and develop, this is the type of environment where you can do that. People let their guards down with humor, and they become more vulnerable and thus more authentic.That’s where growth happens.”
We’ve always said, we take our work seriously but not ourselves – that’s where our stellar quick-witted service comes in. “I’ve always said, ‘If you have happy, satisfied, engaged employees, you’re going to have happy, satisfied, engaged customers.”
Striving to Build Better
Don’t be mistaken: Having fun doesn’t detract from the company’s ultimate goal, which is of course to sell good products. “Our purpose is to inspire people to Build Better™,” Campbell notes. “If we’re serious about that then we have to take the work seriously.”
Figuring out solutions for design and building pros—whether that solution comes from Benjamin Obdyke or another manufacturer—is just as much a part of the culture. Intellectual curiosity is a key company value, and employees are encouraged to push, learn, grow, and develop. “We’re here to help customers figure out the solution, and if we don’t have it we’ll say so. We’ll work to find the answers. This is part of our humility. Part of being authentic.”
Getting to this point isn’t easy, and it certainly evolves over time as the industry changes and the company grows. But the team recognizes the sought-after culture, not taking it for granted, and realizing that these are relationships that must be nurtured every day.
To help preserve the process and add accountability to it, Benjamin Obdyke uses the Entreprenurial Operating System (EOS), a set of concepts and tools for creating and executing an entrepreneurial vision for team-wide success. The goal is a simple one: to provide purpose, clarity, and direction for all through clear goals, metrics, and accountability.
Part of the EOS process, getting started and carrying it through, involves storytelling. Showing examples of the distant and recent past that illustrate the company culture in action. Demonstrating the legacy and how it inspires the current team to continue the history of success in innovation and service.
“As a leader, it’s about recognizing you don’t have all the answers and utilizing the strengths of the people around you. I want to make sure I’m hiring people who can do the job better than I can,” Campbell says.
And, of course, it’s about making sure you’re building a place where people want to work. “I get more pride out of that than how much money we make,” Campbell says fondly. “Making money is important, but if you can’t have fun doing it and can’t get motivated by it, then why bother?”