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S.B. Ballard Named One of the Best Places to Work

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 | Virginia Beach, Virginia
Best Place to Work

S.B. Ballard Construction Co., invests just as much effort into building confident, dedicated, transparent employees as it does in its high profile projects.

If you live, work or play in Hampton Roads, you’ve probably touched the company’s work.

Some of S.B. Ballard’s projects include the Half Moone Cruise Terminal in Norfolk, Kellam High School in Virginia Beach and Peninsula Town Center in Hampton. How has the company led the way to build some of the region’s signature facilities? It’s simple, company founder Stephen B. Ballard said.

“You can tell anybody anything you want at anytime. It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you’re the janitor, the receptionist or whoever it is, you can tell them what you’re thinking and there’s no repercussions,” Ballard said of the company. “It’s not a staunch atmosphere. It’s really casual. People bring their dogs to work. If their kids are sick or the babysitter didn’t show up, they can bring them here. … I’ve got numerous employees that have been here 20, 30 years, so obviously they think it’s a good place to work.”

One of the many employees with long tenures is Vice President Mark Payne, who oversees pre-construction services.

“I like to joke and tell people I don’t know what it’s like to work anywhere else because I’ve always worked here. But I have 32 years here working for Steve. And it’s certainly had ups and downs over that whole period, but one of the things I love about working here is the business that we’re in, construction, it’s very innovative here and it starts with Mr. Ballard.”

Ballard, Payne said, “is very driven and he keeps us focused on the goal at hand. I’ve learned so much through the years working here but also so much from him. And I like to think we stay on the cutting edge of what we do, whether it’s how we procure and pursue projects or how we build them.”

Ballard said finding things that make it fun for employees is a key element of the company’s success. “We’re anything but normal around here. We’re as outside that box as you can get,” Ballard said.

For one thing, “there is no organizational chart. There’s just one guy in charge. That’s me, and everybody else is on the same plateau,” Ballard said. In addition to the flat organizational structure, another unique aspect the company is proud of is a recently opened on-premises gym. They’ve also hired a full-time trainer, and classes for all fitness levels are available multiple times a week.

Open communications and a chance to stay fit and release stress are important because “we’re in a business that doesn’t accept mistakes,” Ballard said.

“And if you do make a mistake, you’ve got to fix it right away, yourself.” Payne agreed.

“Lessons learned is a big thing (Ballard, the owner) pushes on us, and we take that to heart, and we preach that to everybody here, and everybody really embraces that.”

“Steve, the owner of the company, is frequently here, in the office, and his door is always open,” Payne said. “And people that might come from larger corporations don’t have the opportunity to talk to the owner of the company. That’s not the case here.”

Article published in Inside Business (by Nate Delesline III)