By Kelly Faloon
Cornerstone Plumbing, based in Brookfield, Wis., is one of CONTRACTOR’s Cream of the Crop Contractors! Find out why we believe Cornerstone Plumbing, headed by Steve Adkins, is a top-notch contractor.
What makes Cornerstone Plumbing unique when compared to other plumbing/mechanical contracting companies?
Everyone answers ‘our people.’ But the reality is, it’s our people. Much of that is because of our commitment to develop life-long employees, life-long customers and life-long relationships. We do that by first investing in our employees, training and cross-training them so that they can be at the top of their field. Quite simply, if we have top-tier technicians and mechanics, our customers will receive top-level service, and that helps develop long-term relationships.
Also, as our employees become better trained and more skilled, their job security increases and they become more marketable.
We’re not afraid to make our employees the best of the best because we’re afraid that someone will hire them away. Our culture values them and their families, and it's important to us to help them become the best version of themselves possible. If our customers receive the best from the best, they become repeat customers.
Sometimes we do things a certain way because that’s the way we were taught, and we continue to do things that way because it feels comfortable. At CornerStone, we encourage everyone here to ask ‘why’ and to always be looking for better ways. Because the fear of making a mistake can often be more damaging than actually making a mistake, we encourage our employees to make mistakes … the first time.
How many trucks does Cornerstone Plumbing have? What type of trucks (make and model)?
CornerStone operates with a fleet of 38 trucks, a mix of both Ford and Chevy. The firm’s site prep equipment includes six Komatsu excavators, four Komatsu wheel loaders and two skid steer loaders, one each Bobcat and Cat.
What are the most-used tools at Cornerstone Plumbing?
The best and most important assets in our trucks are the mechanics and their brains. At CornerStone, we’ve also embraced technology and have made it part of our process. BIM and Robotic Total Station layout ensures quality and speed.
We’ve also perfected the prefabrication process, which is common in HVAC contractors, but is unique in plumbing. Using our technology and taking advantage of the size of our new 25,000-sq.-ft. facility, we’re able to create complete prefabricated systems that are more precise than those typically built on site. In fact, our process is so exact that we’re able to solve problems before people even know that there will be a problem.
What equipment is most installed during residential and/or commercial jobs?
There really is no standard solution. It’s important to us to listen to our customers to determine what they need to fix the problem they’re trying to solve, and then go about solving it for them. We only install the highest-quality products, such as American Standard and Kohler. We’re not brand loyal, but we are loyal to quality. We don’t want our customers to experience any kind of glitch. That’s why we only install products that are of the highest quality.
What makes Cornerstone Plumbing a great place to work?
Our awesomeness and our humility. And it all starts with respect. We know that our guys out in the field are the lifeblood of our company, and they always will be. I’m a field guy myself, so I have a deep respect for them and an understanding of what they’re facing in the field. These guys live in the worlds of our customers and they do it while functioning extremely well as a team.
We believe that there are three keys that make someone a great team player, and each of our employees possess them:
• The first is humility. Quoting CS Lewis, ‘True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.’ Whether it’s on the jobsite or in the office, everyone here understands and considers the needs of others, and is looking for ways to help others be successful.
• Second is hunger. That’s someone’s passions, desires and dreams. When you dream about something, you are visualizing your future. It’s your passion and desire that helps push through adversity — with a smile on your face.
• Finally, there’s intelligence. Our crews must be able to walk into any situation, greet the unknown and allow their intelligence to guide them through the situation as it is unfolding. Either you’re smart or you’re not. We don't judge; they either have it or they don’t.
What type of recruiting efforts does Cornerstone Plumbing use to find the best employees?
Everything in this business begins and ends with people.
We work closely with high schools, tech schools and colleges to make students aware of the opportunity they have with us to live a great story in life. We all have a story, but each person’s great story is unique. You just need to decide what kind of story you want to live.
That’s why we’re very invested in the training process. We want people to have 10 years of experiences, not just one experience that last 10 years.