A Legacy in Action

Housley Group
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Housley Group is a full-service utility construction company that got its start as Housley Communications in 1980 when one man, the late Robert (Bob) D. Housley, took a vision, one employee, and a solitary piece of equipment and set out to provide a single service exceptionally well.

They worked hard burying telephone drops for major telecommunications players in the state of Texas, building a portfolio and a reputation for quality. As technology advanced, so too did Housley Communications, which expanded beyond telecommunications into gas, power, and wet utilities to become Housley Group.

Since then, projects have taken the company across Texas and further afield, a footprint that’s now supported by nine offices, including Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas. Housley has previously completed work internationally in Mexico and Africa.

Despite this growth and expansion, Housley Group is still a family business that maintains the work ethic and the underlying virtues with which Mr. Housley founded the company, but has greatly diversified the services it offers, the equipment used, and the skills and expertise within its growing ranks.

This has been possible because of the relationships and deeply rooted culture that originated with Mr. Housley and continued to be replicated by his late son, Robert Kevin Housley, his grandson Chris Housley, who recently assumed the role of Executive Vice President, his wife Mona, who serves as Chairperson for the Housley Board, and current President/CEO Dave Meek who has been instrumental in maintaining excellence for the 37 years he has worked at Housley.

The company culture was founded on four basic principles: honesty, integrity, quality, and professionalism, virtues that still guide the growing company and are maintained by long-tenured employees like Vice President of Risk Management Stacy Elms, who has been there for thirty years.

Discussing the legacy left by Mr. Housley, Elms says, “Mr. Housley always wanted us to do the right thing… He always wanted us to keep that in mind and that’s been the secret of our success: quality work done in a timely manner, and having the moral compass to do things right every time.”

When a company grows, change is inevitable, but in 43 years at the Housley Group one thing has remained unchanged: the proud Housley name and what it stands for. Now, with $50 million worth of equipment, 250 employees, and a strong subcontractor base upwards of 900 people, Housley Group is massively in demand.

Last year, during a telecommunications peak, the company was busy indeed, seeing revenue in excess of $110 million. The team buried more than a million linear feet of fiber per month for a single customer on a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) project, and completed 94,000 different orders across three different telecommunications players on the buried-service-wire side.

“Telecom is our bread and butter, but if it goes underground and it’s a linear trench or directional bore—it doesn’t matter if it’s gas, power, or water, it doesn’t matter what conduit or pipe you put into the ground—we can do that,” says Chris Housley.

Part of the reason Housley Group can offer this guarantee of quality is the skill and experience its long-tenured employees bring to the table, and the leadership style that has been instilled in those employees over the past several decades.

It’s unusual in the construction world to find companies with employees who have been with them for twenty to thirty years, but retention is an advantage that Housley Group enjoys, particularly amongst its crew leaders and management. These employees exemplify quality, safety, service, and professionalism, and share their skills and experience with new team members.

According to Elms, “The new people that we hire, that we bring in to stand on the business end of the shovel, they learn from those long-term crew leaders, employees, and managers the standards that we want them to adhere to. So when you start day one, you go through safety initiation, certainly—but really, that’s not the secret.”

He continues, “Anybody can go through safety orientation; it’s when you arrive on a worksite from day one and you see that your fellow employees are working safely and efficiently and that they’re teaching you the right and safe way to do things, that reinforces the safety briefing that you got. On-the-job training from those crew leaders, supervisors, and managers reinforces that story from day one.”

Acknowledging that to err is only human, Housley says that safety truly is top-down at Housley Group. When incidents occur, they’re well-documented and communicated across the entire company to ensure that there’s accountability at every level to create a teaching moment and mitigate risks in the future. “We hear that accountability from the guy who’s working the shovel all the way up to Stacy’s and my position,” he says.

For Chris Housley, there is a lot more on the line than just the success of the family business; it’s a family legacy that he intends to preserve while also modernizing to remain competitive long into the future. “There’s a legacy here that I get to step into and I’m looking forward to the future of the company,” he says.

To ensure that Housley Group thrives for generations to come, the plan is to continue to offer quality work delivered on time with the foremost commitment to safety. The company is also streamlining its operations, identifying efficiencies that can support further diversification of the business.

Housley notes that, “We’re going to continue to succeed in telecom; we’ve done that for forty years and we’re poised to do business as usual, which means anything from repairs to installation of brand-new utilities.” But growth is also anticipated in the gas, power, and wet utilities sectors, which will require further investment in the company’s capacities.

Elms goes into detail: “Doing work in the regulated space, in the case of gas-related work, investing in our employees for the type of training that they need, keeping that training up to date, making sure that they’re trained not only for the work to be done but doing it safely so that those customers like gas companies trust us to do that kind of work. As we move into more of the power industry, we aren’t currently completing energized work, but because of the quality of work that we’ve done for those power customers before, they’re looking to us to expand.”

Concerning market diversification, Housley Group is focused on further diversifying the tools and equipment at its disposal, as well as adopting automation and new technology to streamline its operations for greater efficiency as it grows. As Housley says, “We’re a forty-year-old company, but still, why are we doing it that way? We’ve done things well, but let’s do them better by streamlining processes and challenging ourselves to be more efficient with what we have.”

It bodes well for Housley Group that the Texas market is ripe for growth. As the population grows, not only is there a greater labor pool from which to draw, but the growth also increases demand for infrastructure and thus for the services Housley Group offers.

“We’re in the right place at the right time and I don’t see anything but growth coming,” says Elms. The company is well-poised to capitalize on that opportunity, all the while remaining true to its core values, building steadfast relationships through exceptional project delivery, and evolving to stay diversified and competitive for the long term.

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