Texas Business Radio Interview – Ronnie WillsJuly 24, 2016
Ronnie Wills talks about the company culture at Aggregate Technologies.
Ronnie Wills is interviewed by Texas Business Radio hosts Matt Register and George Walden. He discusses the history of Aggregate Technologies, company culture, ATI’s charity donation program and more. Full transcript below the video.
Matt Register: Welcome to Texas Business Radio. I’m your host Matt Register, here with, Jay Curry is out. with George Walden. George, how are you, sir?
George Walden: I’m doing well, thank you.
Matt Register: Most of the time, we have themes for our shows. Occasionally, the theme is we don’t have one this week, so welcome to the Wild Card Weekend. We’re going to talk to CEO’s today and have been talking to CEO’s about their business and about something that they have going on a little special in their business. Ronnie Wills is the CEO of Aggregate Technologies, is here with us. Ronnie, welcome to the show, sir.
Ronnie Wills: Thank you for having me.
Matt Register: Tell us a little bit about Aggregate Technologies.
Ronnie Wills: Aggregate Technologies is a specialty construction business. We work in obviously construction, any way there is to cut and remove concrete. That’s what we do. We work in commercial and industrial and marine applications.
Matt Register: So anything to do with concrete. Are you guys pouring concrete or destroying concrete or taking it out? What is it you’re doing with that?
Ronnie Wills: No. We don’t pour it, but when they pour it wrong, we fix it for them by taking it out or cutting it up the way they need cut or just whatever.
Matt Register: Got it. You got big massive equipment, right?
Ronnie Wills: Yeah.
Matt Register: This is big stuff in a pretty specialized business. How long have you been in that business?
Ronnie Wills: I’ve been in the business … I started my business in ’97, and I was in the field for 3 or 4 years before that.
Matt Register: Got it. Needless to say, you guys deal with a whole lot of concrete. What has the impact of the slow down done on your business? How has that impacted you guys?
Ronnie Wills: Are you speaking currently? Or several years ago?
Matt Register: Yeah, currently. The current oil field downturn. You’re in Houston, so very obviously, that has impacted a lot of commercial construction and things like that. How has that impacted you guys?
Ronnie Wills: For us, we’ve been extremely blessed and we haven’t had a slow down.
Matt Register: That’s wonderful.
Ronnie Wills: It doesn’t mean that we’re not cautiously optimistic, but so far, it hasn’t hit us.
Matt Register: So you don’t want to say that too loud, right?
Ronnie Wills: Yeah.
Matt Register: Tell us a little bit about it. I know we were talking during the break about one of the things you’re most proud of in your company is the culture. Tell us a little bit about what it is you’ve built inside your company because at the end of the day everybody’s in business to make money, but on top of that is taking care of your people. I know that’s very critically important.
Ronnie Wills: It took me a long time to figure that out, but when I figured it out and figured out the secret was the culture, everything just started clicking together. With the culture, we started getting the right people. We started getting the right people on the bus. We started getting them on the right seat on the bus, and it’s just amazing how well everybody works together. There’s nobody talking behind anybody’s back. Everybody just works. We all have fun at what we do. It’s just an awesome feeling.
Matt Register: How in the world did you go … Was this a deliberate process? Was this accidental? How in the world did you go about putting this in place?
Ronnie Wills: I think there was two things that were involved, and the deeper that I got in my faith, the better that I got with it, but the more I was exposed to things like this, Vistage, and some other CEO groups and things like that, it just started all coming together.
Matt Register: Got it. When was this that you started putting this in place?
Ronnie Wills: It probably started around five years ago, and then in the last three years, it really started picking up steam.
Matt Register: What kind of impact does that have on your business?
Ronnie Wills: It’s unbelievable. I just can’t even describe it. Our profits are through the roof. Our people just keep getting better and better. We don’t have people leaving. They’re all staying. It’s just great.
Matt Register: Why do you think that is? What do you think about that is so compelling for these guys, that not only are they sticking around and I hear you have longevity, longer than otherwise you would expect, but you have increased productivity out of them, as well? Why do you think that is?
Ronnie Wills: Because we get them involved. Everything we do, we let them be a part of it. Every Monday morning, we have what we call a safety meeting, every Monday morning at 5 am. I’m there with the guys. Everybody from the whole company’s there. We talk about safety, but if there’s a thing that we want to process in the company, how we’re going to make the company better, we just get their feedback. We all talk and collaborate.
Matt Register: So they can feel like they have impact in the decision making process of the company.
Ronnie Wills: Yes, they do, for sure.
Matt Register: All right. Wonderful. How did you go about figuring out that was what you wanted to implement in your company?
Ronnie Wills: I just think it happened over time. I wish I could say I was smart enough and I just thought this is what I need to do.
Matt Register: It just evolved, huh?
Ronnie Wills: It just evolved.
George Walden: Was this something that you saw an example of in Vistage ? Is it something that you read about and decided I need to implement this? Or was this just an evolution of the curb within your company?
Ronnie Wills: Obviously, I read a lot of things and then what you learn in Vistage, the speakers you get. That played a part in it, but I think the big part of it is I think it just evolved into that.
George Walden: Impressive.
Matt Register: We were talking during the break about some of the things you do with charity. I know if you’ve listened to this show for any length of time, guys, you know that to whom much is given much is expected. Charity is a big portion of business and something that we feel needs to be a part of every business, but you guys have really internalized it. Tell me a little bit about that, as much as you feel comfortable doing. I know that’s something that your employees especially take pride in.
Ronnie Wills: Basically, we have a board of 5 people, and what we do every year is we decide 5 charities that we want to give to, and then what we do is we take that to the company Christmas party and we hand those charities out to everybody in the company, and we let them rate from 1-5 what they think the most important charity to them is, obviously, on their heart, and then we total it all up, and each one has a percentage with, obviously, the number 1 getting the most, and that’s how the money’s distributed out.
Matt Register: What do you think the impact of the example to all your employees of that charitable giving and their ability to impact the distribution of that has had on those employees?
Ronnie Wills: I think that all goes back to the culture. They feel like they’re a part of something. They feel like that’s a little … People get health insurance. They’re like what I’m doing is contributing to this company giving a charity and helping people.
Matt Register: Sure. That’s wonderful and I applaud it. That’s remarkable and something I highly recommend everybody does. This is a portion of profit at the end of the year, you do it once a year, twice a year?
Ronnie Wills: We do it once a year, every December, usually the third week of December is when we donate all the money.
Matt Register: At that point, you figured out how much it’s going to be. You figure out-
Ronnie Wills: Exactly.
Matt Register: So you take applications for it, you guys have and pick 5 folks that qualify that management feels like is a valid charity and then allow the employees to determine the split based on that?
Ronnie Wills: Yeah. The main thing with us, if it’s not faith-based, we don’t even consider it.
Matt Register: Sure.
Ronnie Wills: So that’s where we start, and then we have people who have come present at our board and then we’ll talk about it and we’ll decide if we want to donate to them that year.
Matt Register: Sure. I think it’s remarkable and I applaud you for it. That’s wonderful. Ronnie, we’ll see you, of Aggregate Technologies out of Houston. Ronnie, what’s the easiest way for somebody to get in touch with you if they want.
Ronnie Wills: Call the office. We have an easy number. It’s 877-SLABSAW or (281) 579-7279.
Matt Register: 877-SLABSAW. I like that. I can remember that one.
George Walden: Very visual.
Matt Register: AggregateTechnologies.com is the website. Guys, don’t take notes. We got links to everybody we’re talking to right there on the website, TexasBusinessRadio.com. Aggregate Technologies is included or go directly there to AggregateTechnologies.com. Don’t forget. Get your calls and questions in. (844) 814-8144 is the 24-hour call-in line. 24 hours means you don’t have to do it right now. You can do it any time during the week that your call’s in. We’ll get the experts on here to get those questions answered. Use hashtag TBR on Twitter. We monitor that. Go to the website to TexasBusinessRadio.com. Not only can you send questions in, but you can see an absolute wealth of information that we have on there. Ronnie, I want to thank you for coming on the show.
Ronnie Wills: Thank you for having me.
Matt Register: I think it’s remarkable. I think more companies need to be doing this. What do you think? That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?
George Walden: I’m in awe. You’ve really built quite a company.
Ronnie Wills: We’ve been blessed and we want to try to bless other people, too.