Alabama's Best Large Employer: Gray Construction

Shared Success Rings the Bell

If you’re a devotee of the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life, ” you might think of angel wings when you hear a bell. If you’re an employee at Gray Construction, a design-build company with a significant presence in Alabama, that bell makes you feel like a million.

Gray has a bell-ringing ceremony whenever the nationally ranked firm wins a contract. Everyone involved stands by as the bell tolls once for each million dollars the contract is worth. Lucratively sweet chimes permeate the building. Employees smile, hearing a million-dollar ding. Seventy dings, it happens, make them euphoric.

Euphoric employees are a good thing, but it’s not just bells that ring workers’ chimes.

When it comes to attracting good people, nothing is gray about Gray. Here’s why:

“We have no private offices, ” says Birmingham-based Southeast Vice President Brian Jones. “Everyone operates in an open environment.” By everyone, he means everyone. Architects, engineers, construction professionals are all under one roof. “It makes us extremely flexible and able to respond quickly to a constantly changing global marketplace, ” Jones says.

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The company headquarters is in Lexington, Ky., with branches throughout the U.S. and Japan. Birmingham is the firm’s largest regional branch. The company’s specialty is large-scale construction — projects like automotive plants, retail facilities, hospitality centers and distribution hubs. But regardless of the size and scope of a project, the company stresses, “Everyone plays a part.”

“We are a youthful company, ” adds Jones, “Not just in age but in attitude. We are a progressive, pro-growth business in which all employees have ownership. Everyone attends the annual shareholder meeting, where everyone shares stories, successes and opportunities for improvement.”

Learning is continuous through “Gray University, ” internal and external training for new hires and seasoned veterans. “It keeps us current in the marketplace, ” says Jones. “And it provides development tools for growth within the organization.” Jones speaks from personal experience. Fifteen years ago he started with the company as an intern.

The company’s mission statement reads: “Our purpose is to make a difference in people’s lives by creating unforgettable customer experiences and great projects.” Core values are: “We put safety and quality of life first. We are customer and relationship driven. We treat others the way we want to be treated.”

Jones adds to that, “We work hard, very hard, and we work hard together. We celebrate victories.”

One bell at a time.

text by Emmett Burnett

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