Thornton & Grooms receives 2010 PHCC Safety Award

BIRMINGHAM, MICH. — Thornton & Grooms, a 38-employee business that has been serving the Detroit area since 1937, received the fourth annual Safety First Contractor of the Year Award sponsored by Federated Insurance at the closing reception and officer installation of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors–National Association’s convention, CONNECT 2010, in Las Vegas, October 30.

“Thanks to the vigilance of our entire staff and the assistance of the Federated Insurance team, safety continues to get the consistent attention it deserves,” said Matt Bergstrom, president of Thornton & Grooms. It is a pillar of what we do, no more or less important than customer service, technical knowledge, or the ability to fix the issue at hand.”

The Safety First award was created to recognize a PHCC contractor who takes advantage of Federated’s risk management assistance to effectively implement sound risk management practices. With hundreds of clients eligible each year to receive this honor, it was Thornton & Grooms’ proactive loss control methods that elevated them among their peers.

Federated Insurance asked Bergstrom to answer some questions on what has made his business so successful.

Question: Have you worked with Federated’s field services personnel for risk management?

Answer: We have used the distracted driving training for years. It’s great stuff. We plan on bringing in our local Federated risk consultant to do our next round of distracted driving to mix it up a bit. We participated in the 2½-day designated risk manager training in Minnesota that was specifically for contractors. The training has been invaluable.

Q: Is Federated’s business relationship with your trade association partners important to you?

A: Yes, it shows that Federated has earned the trust of the association. It also shows commitment to our industry. We are happily members of local, state and national associations.

Q: Do you have any formula for success that you can give someone starting a business in your industry?

A: First, know your costs and don’t be afraid to charge them — provide the value. It’s also important to find and use quality partners — accountants, lawyers, insurance advisors — who help guide your business, rather than just offer the lowest price. The value of their knowledge is indispensible. Under the current ownership’s philosophy, our business has seen 600% growth since 2004.

Q: From what you know about Federated, are there any parallels between Thornton & Groom’s business philosophy and Federated’s business philosophy?

A: We may not be the cheapest up front, but the value we offer definitely pays for itself. Like Federated, we also try to educate our customers and help them understand what they are buying, whether it grows or shrinks the invoice.

Q: How do you feel that your business, Thornton & Grooms, has benefited your surrounding community?

A: We love our surrounding communities and show it by giving away a $1,000 a month to a local charity through our Hearts & Heroes program. These charities really have a huge heart for what they do and are heroes in our eyes. It is just awesome every month to visit these local charities and see the passion they have in providing support to the hurting and needy areas of our communities. We offer a 10% discount to seniors, military past and present, teachers, and first responders, and support our local senior center and offer assistance with lower prices. We have also done three or four mechanicals for houses for Habitat for Humanity.