My Five Sons: Growth, Learning, and Diversification
Update to a 2015 article on the Baxter family!
“We’re in a team sport. Five guys on the floor. You will have one or two superstars, but everyone on the team has to work together to win the game.”
– Brice Baxter, Owner, Baxter Construction
In November of 2015, R&R shared the story of a remarkable family-owned restoration company in Yakima, Wash. Baxter Construction celebrated its 20th anniversary that year, and has since continued to grow, expand, and diversify, thanks to the various passions of a family of men. Brice Baxter owns the company, and has the pleasure of four of his five sons working right alongside him. Back in 2015, Joshua and Tyler (then 20 and 18, respectively) were well into earning various IICRC certifications, and likely among the youngest to earn some of those certs.
Today, Joshua, Tyler, and Brice all have their Triple Masters from the IICRC – in fire, upholstery, and water. For this family, training and education lay the foundation for success in the restoration industry. At the time, Tyler was among the youngest to ever earn a Master Water Restorer designation from the IICRC.
“To have that level of training today, at 20 and 22 years old, is amazing,” Brice said. “It was unique because we were able to do this process together. This is the type of investment we should make in the next generation.”
Brice believes certifications truly add to credibility and his sons’ abilities to market themselves to potential customers and the community on a whole. Joshua and Tyler are both knowledgeable enough in construction and restoration that they are routinely hired by contractors, insurance companies, attorneys, and others to do inspections, evaluate procedures and processes, and so on. While Brice handles the brunt of the consulting work, he is making sure his sons are trained enough to take on even more business like that in the future.
Growth, Diversification, and Individuality
As his sons have each trained and learned the restoration and construction industries, Brice has also kept a close eye on their passions – and used them to grow and diversify the company into something that keeps everyone engaged and growing individually. Today, in addition to Baxter Construction, there are side companies that do things like lead and asbestos abatement, consulting, commercial real estate holding, and even a farm for which Brice’s youngest son, Zachary, is the foreman.
Today, Joshua, Kaleb, and Tyler are abatement supervisors. Joshua runs the abatement company itself, and has additional certifications required to do that kind of work, while Tyler leads the water division of Baxter Construction.
“Part of the reason this works with the family relationships is by keeping the jobs somewhat separate,” Tyler explained. “We each work in different areas within the company, so when we see each other in the evening or at dinner, work doesn’t become an issue.”
Seth, who is 18, is learning the ins and outs of the water department, Brice is well aware of Seth’s passion for advertising and marketing and already sees various roles he could play in the family companies in that capacity. Meanwhile the youngest, Zachary, has a passion for heavy machinery, so there is the possibility of opening a heavy equipment division at Baxter Construction in the future. He started his IICRC classes this year, has two certifications, and also works in the mitigation department part time. The only wildcard with the family business is Brice’s oldest son, Kaleb, who is actively pursuing a career as a firefighter, although he does also hold some IICRC certifications and definite knowledge of restoration.
Photos courtesy of Baxter Construction
The Family Business
Tyler and Joshua both admit there is some competition among the brothers, but since everyone has a different focus, it’s a healthy competition.
“Being competitive drives us to do better – not to out-do the other person. It raises the bar for everyone,” he said. “Everyone has different goals, but if someone takes the CEO chair of Baxter Construction one day, I think everyone will be kind of okay with that – because we will all be in ownership. It should be the best person for the role.”
Brice perhaps put it best saying they aren’t all playing solo sports like golf, where one person is at the top. Their family business, and all the side businesses, are a team sport with five guys on the floor.
“You will have one or two superstars, but everyone on the team has to work together to win the game,” Brice explained. “We are looking at a group of companies where everyone is involved across the board, and we are excited about the success of one person in one division because we are reaping the rewards of the whole team winning. We need people who play each position; we are training so people can do everything.”
The diversification also means more success outside the family – for Baxter Construction’s approximate 50 employees. The company is huge on culture, and treating their team well. It’s a family-oriented place to work, where people are encouraged to take vacations, and not miss family activities. When people have health and family issues, the entire company rallies behind them and supports them. The whole company does breakfast together every Friday morning, and they have big social events several times a year for employees and their families.
Industry Challenges for the Next Generation
Despite being in their early 20’s, Tyler and Joshua have some solid insight on what may lie ahead of the next generation of restorers.
Joshua sees that insurance regulations are changing, and will likely continue to do so, making working with insurance companies a potential challenge. Proper education has been key for Baxter Construction’s team to stand behind why they do a job a certain way, and keeping their customers educated on the restoration process as well.
“Also, finding good employees who are willing to do the job is difficult,” Tyler added. “That will likely be harder to do with younger generations. We need to train them well, and hold onto them.”
Joshua echoed those sentiments, saying they are looking for people with a solid work ethic – but also who fit their company’s culture, and who are there for the customers. In return, they pay well, train well, and create the best work atmosphere they can.
Photos courtesy of Baxter Construction
So, what lies ahead for the Baxter men? Time will tell, but based on their accomplishments so far, it’s clear the sky is the limit.
While Brice is helping each of his sons embrace and pursue their passions, he is pursuing one of his own as a certified Continuing Education instructor. Today, Baxter Construction has a classroom for training purposes, but someday soon, Brice would like to have a full-on training facility people can send their teams to for all the training they need.