Holt Construction’s CEO reflects on challenges and opportunities during the pandemic
The pandemic has disrupted business models in every industry, causing companies to reimagine their operating processes, service delivery models, workforce configurations, and short-term strategic plans. The construction industry is no exception. Many smaller companies have had to suspend operations indefinitely, and well-established developers have been forced to delay or terminate projects.
Holt Construction’s newly appointed CEO, Patricia Zugibe, has been able to leverage her vast leadership and construction industry experience to help navigate the company through the ongoing turbulence and uncertainty created by the pandemic. Ms. Zugibe laid out a roadmap for how companies can continue to thrive in a crisis. She focused on three key principles:
Look Ahead and Be Nimble
Ms. Zugibe believes that flexibility is essential to managing a company through a crisis. While it is customary for businesses to have one-year and five-year plans, being able to respond quickly and adjust to market challenges and opportunities is the mark of a solid, well-run company. Holt Construction was able to overcome hurdles presented during the pandemic because they have the resources of a solid mid-sized organization and the agility of an entrepreneurial organization.
When asked about the secret to Holt’s success during the pandemic, Ms. Zugibe pointed to the fact that the company has a broad-based clientele and a substantial presence in many sectors. “Fortunately, Holt is a diversified Construction management and general construction firm. Our work in the aviation, healthcare, and pharmaceutical has remained strong.”
Ms. Zugibe was able to pivot and redirect the company’s resources and workforce to meet the needs of clients that were expanding during the pandemic. “The challenges of COVID-19 threw us into crisis mode. When that happens, you work through the situation, you collect the facts and analyze the best path forward. I did that with our team, and we emerged with a great level of trust and respect.” Holt Construction demonstrated its resilience and agility by quickly adapting to capitalize on opportunities.
Holt’s new CEO is strongly aligned with the company’s longstanding employee-first policies. Holt Construction has always placed safety and employee wellness as top priorities. So, when the coronavirus began putting workers in danger, the company immediately instituted safety protocols to minimize the risk of infection. Ms. Zugibe and the senior leadership team created new measures early in the pandemic to safeguard the workforce and their partners because it was the right thing to do; not because they were mandated by the state.
Holt President Christopher Asaro said, “When the world was turned upside down by COVID-19, Patricia Zugibe was instrumental in developing a game plan that safeguarded the care and wellbeing of our employees and their families.”
A major component of the company’s strength is its dedicated workforce. Ms. Zugibe takes great pride in the fact that Holt Construction is an inclusive organization that promotes equality and inclusion at all levels. In an industry where only 10% of the workforce is women, Holt stands out as an exception. The CEO said, “At Holt Construction, 30% of our workforce is women working as estimators, project managers, directors, and other executive-level jobs.”
Communication Is Key
The senior leadership team at Holt Construction learned early on in the pandemic that the secrets to surviving and thriving are open communication, transparency, and a renewed commitment to their employees, partners, and clients. The CEO, President, and Chairman maintained close communication with all stakeholders to ensure that projects stayed on schedule while protecting the work crews on multiple sites. Because of their openness and authenticity, Ms. Zugibe says that the company was able to strengthen their bond with their employees and clients even when the business climate was unpredictable and constantly changing.
When a company faces a crisis, its true character is revealed. Organizations that responded to COVID with fear, short-term knee-jerk reactions, and a sole focus on their own self-interests did not fare well during the pandemic. But companies that put people first, invested in their workforce, and bolstered their foundations were able to weather the storm and continue to operate effectively. And while the pandemic is not over yet, Holt Construction is optimistic about emerging from the crisis stronger and more unified than ever.