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Harnessing The Power of Adversity and Diversity

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Allied Mechanical Services (AMS) has been recognized for its culture and focus on safe practices for years by Associated Builders and Contractors of West Michigan and other organizations. Earlier this year, AMS received a new recognition, one for its dedication to excellence in diversity. “Our success with creating a diverse company stems from the culture that has been instilled,” said Steve Huizinga, president of AMS. “It is important that our leadership views each employee as an individual and not just part of a group. It is our philosophy that some of the best people have tough pasts, but when they are given support and see our commitment in them through the tough times, they thrive.”

A core concept that is integral to AMS is the need for everyone to accept one another’s failures. “We firmly believe in failing with integrity because every single person fails,” said Steve. “It’s healthy to admit you failed. It’s healthy to admit you need help. We always tell our guys that true strength is admitting you need help and admitting you failed.”

Like most organizations, the onslaught of COVID-19 inspired AMS to make some changes. While adversity is uncomfortable, the adaptations through the changes revealed new leaders in the organization. Along with handling new PPE requirements and managing the onslaught of information, AMS had to navigate supporting an employee who tested positive for COVID-19. While Steve was happy to see that the processes and procedures his team put in place worked successfully, he was most proud that the foreman associated with the site personally took the initiative to check in on the affected employee every day while he was on leave. “I was so proud to see how people stepped up and led,” said Steve. “Our people are the most important thing to me, and when I see an initiative like that, it puts a smile on my face because it means what we’re doing is permeating to all our people.”

In order to ensure that the health and wellness of its employees remain at the forefront of AMS’ mission, Steve instituted no work Fridays and supported each of his approximately 400 employees’ decisions to continue working or take time off. “I encouraged our employees that they need to do what they need to do to take care of their family first. We’re second.”

Although there is a possibility that the newly instated initiatives could impact the overall bottom line, Steve said the financial impact never challenged his decision to support his employees’ needs. “We always do the next right thing, no matter what,” said Steve. “When this happened, our focus wasn’t concerned about how this is going to affect our bottom line. Our focus is: How can we make sure our people can continue to support their families?”

As companies adapt for the future, Steve encourages leaders to incorporate diversity of culture and finances. Looking back in time for guidance to a time when AMS hit a financially rough period in the early 1980s, Steve’s father and Uncle Dan transitioned from their careers to help rebuild the company. “Once we got up and running in the mid-1980s and started to be pretty successful again we started ControlNet. After that, every chance we get, we’re always looking for the next opportunity,” said Steve. “We’re never stagnant, that’s not in my blood.”

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