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Bold Leaders

Inspire Bold Leadership

How TDIndustries puts its people first

This story is part of Chase's “Game Changers" series, which focuses on high-impact businesses and the people who lead them. TDIndustries is a client of Chase Commercial Banking.

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Large buildings play a critical role in our lives. Most of us are born in hospitals, make memories at sports stadiums, earn academic degrees within the walls of a lecture hall, and build our careers at an office. Yet, have you ever thought about who builds and maintains the facilities we rely on every day?

One such company is TDIndustries, a JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking client, that delivers the building systems we take for granted—like air conditioning, heating and plumbing. Founded in 1946, the Dallas-based mechanical construction and facilities services company has, for more than 70 years, helped commercial and industrial clients engineer, construct, operate and maintain their facilities.

TDIndustries was recently recognized on Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the 20th consecutive year. JPMorgan Chase spoke with CEO Harold MacDowell (recently named by Inc. magazine as one of the world's top CEOs) about the company's unique approach to leadership and why corporate culture matters. 

Leading with a servant's heart

When asked about TDIndustries' success, MacDowell credits servant leadership—that is, putting people ahead of profit and focusing on a sustainable model that is mutually beneficial for business and culture. 

head shot of MacDowell

"In the servant leadership model, leaders are first a servant of those they lead," says MacDowell. "They are a teacher, a source of information and knowledge, and a role model."

Servant leaders put the individual and professional growth of their team first. TDIndustries invests in talent by providing a minimum of 32 hours of training per year that is paid for by the company, by promoting from within to satisfy growth needs, and by coaching young managers and new leaders on servant leadership. As Jack Lowe, Jr., the founder's son and the company's second CEO, was known to say, "To be a successful leader at TDIndustries, you have to care about your people and make your numbers."

TDIndustries is also 100 percent employee-owned, having converted to a formal employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) in 1990. This structure drives a culture of ownership and inclusion and helps motivate their 'TDPartners'—a term they use for 'employees.'

"When you have owners in every corner of the business, from the receptionist to the expert service technician to the CEO, it enables you to run a much flatter, high trust business," MacDowell says. "We can't grow the business unless we're growing our TDPartners; and when our TDPartners are happy, our clients are happy."

A community-first approach to disaster recovery

Last August, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and the Gulf of Mexico, where TDIndustries conducts a large part of its business, causing significant damage to the area. While the company's Houston office fared relatively well, many of its customers and TDPartners did not. TDIndustries raced to be a part of relief efforts.

"Most of us felt helpless, so we began to assemble teams and call suppliers to collect generators, dehumidifiers and other supplies to deliver them to clients as soon as the roads opened," MacDowell says. "The outpouring of support and selflessness we saw was both humbling and inspiring."

In addition to the donated supplies, TDPartners gave their time as well as financial contributions. An internal relief program called TDCares was funded by donations of TDPartners' own vacation days—totaling more than 90 weeks—and payroll deductions.

A shared vision, the billion dollar dream

With its culture of servant leadership as a strong foundation, TDIndustries is working toward its next milestone of becoming a billion dollar company, and adding technological innovations such as 3D modeling and virtual reality that help improve efficiencies and reduce costs across the construction industry.

MacDowell looks forward to TDIndustries' continued growth while still maintaining the culture of humility.

"We see opportunities out there to grow, and look forward to what the next few years will bring for the company and for our TDPartners," he says.

How Harold MacDowell, TDIndustries CEO, sets his day up for success

1. My alarm clock is set for: 5 a.m.

2. Essential reading: I go through two newspapers every morning: the Dallas Morning News and The Wall Street Journal. I get the rest of my news online, and on Twitter.

3. Morning beverage of choice: Double espresso.

4. Ideas I live by: I'm a big subscriber of David Allen's personal management philosophy from his book "Getting Things Done," as well as Stephen Covey's book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

5. Favorite app for managing my time: TaskTask, an Outlook task manager. 

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