2021 Contractor of Excellence: Southern Trust Home Services
“All for one, and one for all!”
Most of us are familiar with the rallying cry of the Three Musketeers (eventually, the Four Musketeers) from the 1844 novel “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas or the many film versions. It is a vow of loyalty, of camaraderie, of trust.
Last month, we introduced you to two Contractors of Excellence in the eastern part of the country. This month, we turn south.
After moving to Virginia in 1995, Puzio started his own company, focusing on residential construction. Frustrated with working with builders, Puzio transitioned the firm to residential service only. Today, Southern Trust Home Services, Roanoke, Va., provides customers service and repair for plumbing, electrical, heating, air, water treatment, generators and luxury bath remodels. Of its 52 employees, 10 are HVAC techs.
'Demonstrating the highest level of integrity when working with customers and co-workers is critical. Do what’s right for the customer every time, even if no one is watching.' - Ted Puzio
“We've seen good growth year over year, from 25 percent to 35 percent,” Puzio noted. “Even through the Great Recession and the COVID-pandemic, we had nice growth; we added people and trucks every year.”
Of course, safety is always important in the construction industry, but another of Puzio’s — and Southern Trust’s — core values is integrity.
“Demonstrating the highest level of integrity when working with customers and co-workers is critical,” he explains. “Do what’s right for the customer every time, even if no one is watching. And deliver excellent service so customers are blown away by what they receive— from the first phone call to when the tech is finished and pulling away.”The motto “All for one, and one for all!” is the cornerstone of another core value — creating a culture of trust and support. This enables Southern Trust Home
“I wanted to create an environment where everybody works for each other,” Puzio explains. “When I first started in the electrical field, I worked seven days a week. My boys were little. I missed sporting events, I missed graduations. Most of my techs have young families, so I tell them that if they have a family commitment, talk with the other people from your division, hand off the on-call responsibilities and tell the service manager. As long as the customers are covered and they're happy, I'm fine. The guys work great like that.”
The company hires adult apprentices sponsored through the state apprenticeship program who go to school at night. During the day, they spend time with mentors in each division.
“We hire rising high school juniors and seniors through a state-approved internship program,” he explains. “They come to work on their free scheduled days and they get high school credit; eight scheduled days they go to school. Once they graduate, they're on as a full-time employee. We sponsor them through the state apprenticeship program — night school for four years, and then they can take the journeyman's exam and then the license.”
Puzio adds that the company hires adult apprentices sponsored through the state apprenticeship program who go to school at night. During the day, they spend time with mentors in each division. “They’re being trained to succeed and move to the next level. So, we offer real career opportunities here.”
Puzio believes Southern Trust provides something his competitors don’t: peace of mind.
“We offer up-front pricing so our customers know the prices before we get started with the work they need completed,” he says. “Our employees are properly licensed, as well as background-checked and drug-tested. Our techs are available 24/7; there’s always someone on call. A tech could be on the way to the customer within an hour of calling us. And we offer a lifetime repair warranty on all stated repairs. So, it's all about peace of mind.”
He adds that Southern Trust also offers services its competitors don’t, such as trenching and underground sewer line repairs.
Puzio recently joined Service Roundtable, but he acknowledges that the coaching services provided by CEO Warriors has been invaluable to him since the start of his business: “For guys like myself who didn't hack college, didn't listen to their dad and stick with it, to work with a coach/mentor really helps.”
Kelly Faloon is a contributing writer to Contracting Business magazine and principal of Faloon Editorial Services. The former editor of Plumbing & Mechanical magazine, she has more than 20 years of experience in the plumbing and heating industry and B2B publishing. Faloon is a journalism graduate of Michigan State University.