By Mamon Powers, III
President, Indianapolis Office | Powers & Sons Construction
When I reflect on the past 18 months, I am grateful my family-owned firm has withstood the test of time. I also find hope and inspiration in the fact that challenging times are an incubator for flexibility and strength.
Having an inclusive, strong company culture has enabled me to pivot and be flexible in adjusting to our new reality. Strength was needed to align company resources, achieve business goals, and lead my team through uncertainty. Flexibility enabled me to identify lessons learned while looking ahead and adapting to changing conditions.
Here are some of my key take-aways from 2020–21.
1. Strategic planning is essential. Have a current contingency plan in place and, when the road gets rocky, work the plan. Monitor conditions in the local market and trends in the industry. Re- evaluate and identify your top priorities and goals. Align your actions to adapt to your new reality. Invest in the team, tools, and technologies you need to be safe, effective, and productive working from the office, a job site, and home.
2. Go lean. Practice and apply lean business principles. Align and optimize operations for smooth, timely, and quality delivery. Maximize customer value and make strategic decisions about resource utilization. Keep expenses low, eliminate waste, and reduce unnecessary steps. Make just-in-time decisions based on current, accurate, and relevant information. Plan for long lead times and develop efficient project management processes. Focus on creating flow and eliminating defects.
3. Develop talent. Participate in mentorship and tutoring programs for children and teens, especially those navigating the widening K-12 educational achievement and attainment gap exacerbated by the pandemic. Share what you know to help a K-12 student succeed academically and socially, whether they are college-bound or looking for skilled trades training. Support efforts to address the skilled labor shortage. We need skilled general construction superintendents and foremen, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, excavators, painters, and landscapers. Promote apprenticeships that combine classroom instruction with on-the-job training. Create relevant, targeted, short-term certificate programs to train general tradespeople.
4. Support others. Build a common culture based on shared values and you can achieve any goal.
Recruit and retain talented, ethnically, and culturally diverse professionals of all ages and backgrounds. Show your team that you value, respect, and appreciate their work. When at all possible promote staff from within. Practice inclusive, equitable procurement and do business with a variety of independent business owners and small companies. Give back to the community by donating your time and resources. Show love for your neighbor.
What lessons have you learned during the pandemic? How will you position yourself, your family, your business, and your community for success in a new reality?

A Board United is a new blog series of thoughts, reflections and guidance from members of United Way of Central Indiana’s board of directors. Our directors come from all walks of life and provide exceptional counsel and support to our organization. Best of all, each one loves our community and is passionate about making Central Indiana a place where people thrive.