A People First Certified Company

Florida Division CEO Ray Southern addressed the Associated Builders and Contractors National Expo and took advantage of the opportunity to give visibility to Balfour Beatty Construction before this assembly of industry peers. Ray’s long-standing relationship with the keynote speaker, Jack Lannom, led to the invitation for him to speak.

Ray recalled, “Three years ago we introduced Jack’s People First program to the Florida Division; it’s the most important thing we’ve ever done.” People First is a powerfully practical vehicle for everyone who wants to make a difference in people’s lives. It equips them with a philosophy for achieving balance in an unbalanced world.

I had told Jack about all the changes we’d been going through as a business: our resetting strategy, the development of our vision and creed and brand promise. And as Jack described People First, I knew it was something I wanted to roll out to the whole company. It was so in line with our values and our vision.

“I took a page from Jack’s book (People First) and assumed the title of Chief Encouragement Officer,” Ray explains. “We set up a series of eight road shows to introduce People First to the entire division, all 400 of our employees, so they would understand the concepts and recognize what they were seeing when people began to change their behaviors.”

The Florida Division selected 120 employees to receive 12 weeks of People First training. Ray attended every class. “That was one of the neatest things for me,” says Ray. “That gave me an opportunity to interact with our folks more than ever before.”

Did people in the Florida Division change as a result of the People First program? “Ask anyone in our company,” Ray declares, “and they’ll tell you that it’s one of the greatest things we’ve ever done. Our employees have shared some amazing stories with me, examples of how it’s helped with their families and friends, their relationships with other employees, our clients, and others.”

“Not too many years ago, we set a vision of differentiating ourselves so greatly that we would change the industry. We would do that by offering our clients the best construction experience ever, by attracting and keeping the best talent, who would offer high levels of personal service, and by making the right choices. Our people have to feel good in order to give our clients that best experience. And People First has been transformational for us. I encourage everyone to read Jack’s book; it’s standard issue at our company for every new hire.”

Jack Lannom introduced Ray as “the quintessential example of a leader who balances technical skills and people skills. He is a true Chief Encouragement Officer, one of the greatest examples of someone who builds people up.”

Since completing the People First leadership certification training, Ray has introduced the program to several executives, including members of Kimberly-Clark Professional and Baker Concrete. Thanks in large measure to Ray’s influence, these industry icons have become People First certified.

In addition, Ray sent copies of Jack Lannom’s book, People First: Achieving Balance in an Unbalanced World, to “some of our subcontractors, and even competitors.” Ray often attends Lannom’s Florida presentations. “Every time I take away something new.”

Ray Southern
Division CEO, Balfour Beatty Construction