A Company Well Staffed Speaks for Itself
Roman philosopher Seneca once mused, “Be silent as to services you have rendered, but rather talk of favors you have received.” He speaks of quiet strength, never boasting in one’s self, but rather letting a life well lived speak for itself. And among small businesses in Western Kentucky, Swift & Staley stands as a shining example of quiet strength as a company dedicated to quality service not only to their customers but to their employees and the community as well.
Swift & Staley is accustomed to being a trendsetter. The government infrastructure services contractor is the first womanowned business to be awarded a prime contract for the U.S. Department of Energy at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Pat Holsapple, owner, recalls her entry into a world that seemed reserved for only men.“My husband Bill has always been a strong leader. But after an accident and some serious surgeries in ’86, I had to become more involved. I jumped into a man’s world out of necessity. But Bill is a master motivator. He knows how to find a person’s strengths and promote them on to success. I saw many obstacles, but he kept encouraging me to go over, around, and through them! I eventually had no fear! When I said, ‘I am not sure I can,’ Bill always told me, ‘Of course you can!’”
Pat held ownership of H&G, a company specializing in road and bridge construction. She went on to acquire Ohio Valley Gravel & Sand, Purchase Asphalt, and Swift & Staley. In 2000, she led Swift & Staley into subcontractor work with Bechtel Jacobs. In 2005, Swift & Staley won the infrastructure services contract at the DOE Paducah Site.
By 2007, Swift & Staley’s dedication to quality earned them the HUBZone Contractor of the Year award. “HUBZone is a program by the U.S. Small Business Administration that promotes businesses in Historically Underutilized Business Zones,” explains Pat.
“The award is really a tremendous testament to the employees of Swift & Staley. This will always be their award, not mine. Their focus on the customer made the award possible. And Paducah Bank has been a partner with us in success. When we implemented the Good to Great program, Joe Framptom came to our first meeting. And he continued to come back and work with us in that implementation. He is just a reflection of the bank. They were never intimidating, as banks often tend to be. When a business is starting to grow, you can often feel nervous when approaching a bank. I never felt that way with Paducah Bank. They helped us become a stronger company. It’s been a growing experience for both of us. And it’s refreshing that they do things a bit differently.”
In the spring of 2009, Swift & Staley further ventured into the federal contracting arena when they took over a maintenance and operations contract with the USDA Forest Service at Land Between the Lakes (LBL). Swift & Staley now handles facility, roads and trails, drinking water and grounds maintenance through a force of 90 employees dedicated to the LBL.
In the end, Swift & Staley management credits their success to their employees. “Those who work here have really taken ownership,” says Pat. “They are a remarkable group of people who continue to amaze us. And Bill is here to motivate them and bring out the best in them just like he did with me. They are also community-minded. During the ice storm, they fast-tracked a process to get a shower-trailer to Ballard County for those in shelters and for emergency workers. When offered overtime pay for their time, they initially refused it. Many of them were without power, yet they stepped out to help others without the thought of what they might get in return. Those are the types of people we have working for us. They are why we are successful. And we did pay them overtime, because that was the right thing to do” adds Pat.
Swift & Staley plans on staying the course. “We are proud of where we are,” says Pat. “And we are investing in our employees who make it all possible. We started a training initiative with WKCTC where they can further their education by taking classes or completing work in specific degree programs. We can give our already multi-talented employees more tools to face any change that may come in the future. And change is the one thing you can always expect.”