DeVere Team in front of DeVere's HQ

“But we’ve always done it that way” is often the refrain of many successful independent companies. But the Southland and DeVere Enterprise, a 35-year-old independent insulation company, is choosing to break that mold and do things quite a bit differently.

“Old ways won’t open new doors,” says Chris Rzepkowski, vice president at DeVere Insulation, one of the eleven companies under the Southland and DeVere Enterprise umbrella. “For us, it’s all about scalability, collaboration and trust.”

“To break it down, scalability means that we are fiercely evaluating ourselves for value and strategic growth,” he continues. “Our collaboration stems from our desire to grow both personally and professionally as a team and to continue to build the business, trusting in each other.”

The Southland and DeVere Enterprise continues to move forward in an ever-changing, ever-evolving environment which is a direct testament to its leadership. The team, along with its 500-plus employees, provides the pillars for all of the organization—allowing team leaders to do their jobs without the worry of “What will the owners think?”

The company continually works hard to examine itself internally by putting measurables and key performance indicators together that make sense. Managers and individual contributors meet quarterly to evaluate and create the metrics to, in turn, use them to hold each other accountable.

Management Models

Looking to the future, owners Jerry Palmer and Bob DeVere brought on Rzepkowski and Scott Letcher more than 15 years ago to begin to assemble the next generation of leaders in the company—yet keeping their vision and hard work progressing forward. They are still very much engaged in the business, offering coaching and counseling to the teams, attending meetings, pitching in where and when needed; however, they have graciously stepped back to let their people do what they were hired to do.

Bob DeVere says it best: “The best legacy you can leave is an evolving, growing organization.”

DeVere and Palmer trust Rzepkowski, Letcher and the team of leaders who comprise their eleven companies to continue to guide their business down the winding path of success and growth.

“We take a hard look at ourselves constantly to continue to work at eliminating any micromanagement culture; we encourage team members to act decisively and become critical thinkers of the global outcome for the company and not strictly their viewpoint,” Rzepkowski states.

Department heads and leadership work together to improve their respective areas, collaborating with others to highlight what is not working, and finding solutions to challenges that arise. Crucial conversations are encouraged to get to the solution and move forward.

“We are not the fuzz and studs guys,” says Jerry Palmer. “We sell from a building science perspective. We are a RESNET certified, B.P.I. certified and NAHB certified insulation contractor.” Furthermore, “We promote and are proud to support the insulation community as well as a number of charities on the local and national levels.”

Putting Teamwork to the Test

Staying relevant and competitive takes focus and a great deal of hard work. Three years ago, the company took a hard look at what was working and what could be improved. The leadership team and other team members started by process mapping all aspects of the back-office systems, looking for inefficiencies and cost cutting initiatives.

Through this analysis and collaboration, the outcome was the investment of an ERP platform which enabled the company to better leverage technology for its transactional work. As a result, the enterprise improved its DSO (Days Sales Outstanding) from 62 to 41.1 and continues to improve.

The company has also improved upon other aspects of their company such as:

  • Improving the accounts payable process of paying vendors and manufacturers by aligning with Lucrotec for payment optimization, eliminating 98% of checks being processed and mitigating fraud risks
  • Leveraging a self-insured health plan in addition to seeking a business captive insurance program in 2022 for workers comp, auto and general liability insurance.

The benefits touch all areas of the company with a huge impact on positive cash flow and the company’s ability to leverage itself to the maximum growth potential. The Southland and DeVere Enterprise has successfully made its mark in the 21st century through collaborating internally and with customers and will continue to do so for many years to come.  

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