Leadership through a Strategic Pivot with Brandon Hurd at BHRS Companies

Every company is going to navigate change. Leadership through a strategic pivot is more than just sharing the vision. When employees are expected to adapt, you want to be an intentional leader. Today’s guest is Brandon Hurd, Founder of BHRS Companies. Inc Magazine ranked its company #161 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. BHRS Companies provides commercial realty services, construction management, contracting services, and modular manufacturing. Brandon and I talk about leadership through a strategic pivot so you can create a company that adapts when needed. Your people deserve strong leadership at all times, but it is essential when going through a period of rapid change. Leadership through a strategic pivot requires you to get proactive about what is next.

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Brandon Hurd: The Transcript

About: Brandon Hurd is the Founder & Managing Director at BHRS Companies. BHRS Companies is a consortium Built to Deliver comprehensive commercial realty services, construction management and contracting services, and modular manufacturing to businesses, managers, tenants, investors, and organizations alike primarily throughout the southeast United States with select export service to international customers abroad.


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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Brandon Hurd: [00:00:00] It’s been a fast journey and what’s, what’s interesting too, is what you think you may need in one year or one month, or what have you changes six months later? And the environment is constantly changing with fast growth as well. So it’s also very demanding with the people. So finding the right people in place who can handle that fast growth, think innovatively think entrepreneurially have the resilience. And also to believe in the mission of what we’re trying to do has probably been the toughest challenge, but also that we’ve been in this business now coming into our seventh year of business. We’ve got a really good team in place. And  I do anticipate the growth will continue, but that’s been the biggest theme here is focusing on people.

[00:00:36] Intro: [00:00:36] Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

[00:00:53] Gene Hammett: [00:00:53] Every company goes through a strategic pivot. The question is how well will you lead through your strategic pivot? When you think about all of the things that must come together, all of the vision that you were trying to create, and what’s really going on inside of strategic pivot, you want to make sure that you have every advantage through this. It’s really about how well will you communicate where you’re going, why you’re going to do this, but also what’s really necessary to create alignment across the team. That is all about the leadership you’re trying to create. Today’s special guest is Brandon Hurd. He is the CEO of BHRS companies. They’re a commercial real estate, modular development, but also construction management. There’s a lot of pieces to their company, but they made one 61 on the Inc list. And it’s a fantastic discussion with Brandon about. Leadership through a strategic pivot. We go through three pieces of this that you can learn from. And I love the fact that we kind of dive into each one of those pieces and break down why they’re so important and what’s necessary. There are little pieces on the edge of this three-step plan. You really want to make sure you get right. If you want to create a culture that really pivots through any kind of change that you have in front of you. Everything I know about leadership and the really growing fast-growth company comes from my own experience of growing a fast company, but also the interviews I do here, but mostly from the coaching I do with leaders and founders of fast-growth companies, I work primarily with the Inc 5,000 level companies. I help them really understand the key elements. Leadership. What are the big things that get in the way of you being the leader that you really need to be is the fact that you are not evolving fast enough for the company to continue to evolve. A lot of leaders stay up at night, really kind of wondering, will they be able to manage the chaos, and will they really become the leader that this team needs?

[00:02:48] Well, that’s exactly where I come in. I can help you understand where the gaps are, what really is most important for your leadership so that you can take your company to the next level. If you want to have that conversation with me, make sure you go to genehammett.com. It’s all about you committing yourself to be a better leader, and I can help you do that through these conversations. Just go to genehammett.com. Now here’s the interview with Brandon.

[00:03:11] How are you?

[00:03:12] Brandon Hurd: [00:03:12] Good afternoon, Gene. Doing well.

[00:03:14] Gene Hammett: [00:03:14] Awesome. To have you on the show to talk about leadership and culture, that drives fast-growth companies. I wanted to go ahead and ask you about your current company. I’ve already talked about you as a leader and what we talk about today, but w what are BHRS companies?

[00:03:30] Brandon Hurd: [00:03:30] Yeah, so thanks again for having me on the show and the podcast really appreciate the opportunity.  BHR has companies, as we have identified is a real property services firm, and  We really focus on three key areas of business, which to us are all very related. But as a real property services firm, our core business is a construction management and contracting. Part of being a fast-growth company is identifying opportunities in the marketplace. And particularly with having customers that you’re servicing and trying to take really good care of. Sometimes they come to you with needs or opportunities, to grow your business. And one of the things that really led to our growth is by expanding our services to our customers to one of our divisions, which is commercial real estate. And the third one, which is probably one, we’ll talk about a lot today. And the most recent economic environment is our modular building division fabric on modular. It was really exciting. So that’s a modular manufacturing and modular construction business.

[00:04:24] Gene Hammett: [00:04:24] Well, I appreciate the depth of the company you guys made the Inc list. You were what, one 61 is that right?

[00:04:32] Brandon Hurd: [00:04:32] One 61 in our first year. Yep.

[00:04:35] Gene Hammett: [00:04:35] When you think about growing that fast and really, were you surprised by that? Or were you, did you want to be higher in the rankings?

[00:04:44] Brandon Hurd: [00:04:44] I was extremely surprised. So we had, we had applied  I think a year, the year prior, and we had missed some eligibility requirements. I think it was age or something of the store. So when I had applied and in my excitement, I figured we’d probably fall somewhere in the middle of the list. And then when it came out and I saw one 61 and I was extremely pleased and humbled, but also gave some validity to those growing pains that we had experienced and compared to some peers that we were growing pretty quick. It was a very cool time. Very cool acknowledgment to receive that award.

[00:05:14] Gene Hammett: [00:05:14] Well, I appreciate you sharing this story with us. Then, the chaos of fast growth is not easy. Just take me back to a little bit of some of that chaos. Like, what are some of the challenges you had to overcome as the company was growing?

[00:05:27] Brandon Hurd: [00:05:27] So I think there the opportunities, or excuse me, the opportunity to talk about chaos and growing pains are endless.  Mainly because when I started the company in 2014, it was somewhat of a naive start the old leap of faith, and having started it, I never really appreciated what it would take to grow a fast company. It definitely exceeded my expectations and growth.  It exceeded my expectations with what would be required to help it grow. And it, it has been a heck of a journey. And I think w with. The one recurring theme that has been clear throughout this whole process is the need for having good quality people. Part of the team, because it became very apparent early on that my limitations to growth were essentially an easy analogy. Throwing a cashier at your own passes. You can only throw and catch so many passes yourself eventually where you hit capacity. And so I became quickly needing an understanding of the need to have a good team in place.

[00:06:28] But it’s been again, it’s, it’s been a fast journey and what’s, what’s interesting too, is what you think you may need in one year or one month, or what have you changes six months later? And the environment is constantly changing with fast growth as well. So it’s also very demanding with the people. So finding the right people in place who can handle that fast growth, think innovatively, think entrepreneurially have the resilience and also believe in the mission of what we’re trying to do. That’s probably been the toughest challenge, but also that we’ve been in this business now coming into our seventh year of business, we’ve got a really good team in place. And  I do anticipate the growth will continue, but that’s been the biggest theme here is focusing on the people.

[00:07:06] Gene Hammett: [00:07:06] Well, that’s very common thinking for fast-growth companies. A lot of companies don’t get this because I asked the impossible question and I’ll ask you, and I’m always hesitant to ask because I never know what’s going to happen, but the impossible question goes like this. As a fast-growth leader, what’s more, important your customers or your employees?

[00:07:27] Brandon Hurd: [00:07:28] It’s that’s really a tough question. I mean, there are, there are situations where you can’t have a business without customers, but yet you can’t have, you can’t do business without people. I think if I had to pick, ultimately it would be, customers are more important.  But I would say very close second behind that is, are your people on your team?

[00:07:46] Gene Hammett: [00:07:46] So 94% of Inc level leaders know the importance of people inside their companies. And they say people 94% of the time.

[00:07:55] Brandon Hurd: [00:07:55] I’m a 6% minority.

[00:07:56] Gene Hammett: [00:07:56] But you’re in, you’re in the minority here.  But I know it’s a hard question because it is. You know, you got to have both insides of companies are growing fast and I’ve had many people tell me, you know, you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong. And I’m like, this is not my idea. Now I will tell you, I ran a fast-growth company as we talked about earlier. And it really is hard to scale beyond your own ideas. If those people don’t feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, and that leaders are really taking care of them.

[00:08:26] Brandon Hurd: [00:08:26] Yes, a hundred percent agree.

[00:08:27] Gene Hammett: [00:08:27] You had mentioned something about the entrepreneur spirit and that’s a big part of my research and my work, my work, and the book I’m writing.  What exactly is the entrepreneurial spirit inside of a company like yours?

[00:08:37] Brandon Hurd: [00:08:37] That’s a great question. Entrepreneurship in itself, you know, is a different way of thinking.

[00:08:41] It’s a different way of acting. It’s a different way of putting things together.  And it mainly, it’s a way of capitalizing on opportunities. So, you know, when you’re in a more we’ll call it not entrepreneurship environment, you live on a lot of policies, a lot of procedures, a lot of this is the way we do things. A lot of established principles and things that have been tried true and proven to be, you know, work  And entrepreneurship environment. You don’t even know if things are going to work sometimes. And also you don’t even know what processes you need because you don’t have them in place yet. So as you grow up with that kind of culture, it’s having the ability to have people see the forest through the trees. Again, understand the mission and sometimes focus on that. The ends are more important than the means. But also when you do successfully overcome or when you do accomplish those tasks to learn from it and put things into place so that as you scale and grow the team, you can teach that to the people, this, the second generation, the people that are coming into the company about how we do things and what makes us work.

[00:09:41] Commentary: [00:09:41] Let me add something else about this entrepreneurial spirit. One of the things that I really love to see when within fast-growth companies is not just the entrepreneur spirit, but a spirit where people feel a sense of ownership. In fact, If the leaders inspire people to feel this ownership, not only do they have this connection and meaning to the work that they need, but everyone is aligned together toward the big mission. And this feeling of ownership comes when you have some of the key pieces that we talk about in a lot of the interviews all together and inside your leadership, you’ve got to be very intentional about this. I’m not going to go through them today, but you want to make sure that you, as a leader are evolving fast enough so that people feel a sense of ownership across their work because that’s where the meaning comes. That’s where they are, you know, hitting any challenge in front of them, head-on. And they’re really addressing all of this stuff without you having to weigh in on it. They’re making decisions because they’re empowered. They feel this sense of ownership and it starts with you. If you want to make sure you’re that type of leader, make sure you check out some of the resources we have just go to genehammett.com. You can find free resources. And if you want to have a conversation with me, you can do that as well. I’d love to talk to you about your own leadership and your journey, but for now back to Brandon.

[00:10:56] Gene Hammett: [00:10:56] Perfect. I love the way you described that you have had to make some specific changes in your strategy over the years, and you’ve had to lead through those changes. Give us an idea of something you had faced as a company where you had to shift your strategy.

[00:11:11] Brandon Hurd: [00:11:11] So coming into most recently, I hate to play on the economic situation with COVID, but it really is such a big impact and coming all the way up through 2018, 2019, our business was really well positioned on the heels of a large economic run and all that stuff. We just talked about all the policies and procedures, the best practices, all the things we had in place. In March of 2020, just immediately seemed to disappear. And for us, we face our, our target market is primarily in the restaurant, the commercial retail sector of the market. And that was just probably hit very hard. So what that forced us to do is get a team in place. So knew what to do.  We had a team in place who was very qualified, to do our work, but we found that our work was shifting. And one of the areas that I quickly kind of connected the dots was we have the fabric on a modular portion of our business again, which is the modular manufacturing had a very preconceived notion of what modular construction is.

[00:12:12] But yet my experience with some of the association groups that I participate within, I was kind of listening to some opportunities. And then I decided to put these, these two separate companies essentially together.  That we had just previously separated pre a couple of years ago because we were finding that customer didn’t quite know how to interpret it at the time. And, you know, are you a modular company or are you a construction company? And the answer is we’re both. So we had just done a whole rebranding to separate these two units and then here’s, COVID presenting itself that maybe it makes more sense to bring it back. But what we learned from that rebranding process was putting ourselves in the consumer’s perspective. So now I’ve got people who are or the team who’s trained on how to service customers in one way. And now I’ve got to show them that the tools I actually have in place could just be repurposed for different consumers’ perspectives. So that’s been a challenge in the last year. We’ve been seeing a really cool opportunity within it. Been some really opportunistic projects that have hit our desks. But changes like that, again are constant. And for right now that’s something that we’re seeing really exciting time. And this is again, the splitting, but coming back together.

[00:13:15] Gene Hammett: [00:13:15] Those two business units change is constant. And one of the things I think leaders struggle with is, you know, making a big decision. And I didn’t realize the background of this is that you had already split them up. And then you had to bring them back together. Were you concerned about kind of not being able to create the alignment you need with your people? Or what was your concern as you had to make this big pivot before this?

[00:13:38] Brandon Hurd: [00:13:38] The split, that was exactly what I had been experiencing was the alignment. And it was really hard to use a phrase again, boil the ocean, to get everybody to understand what it was we were trying to do. Everybody understands it in concept, but when it comes to actually do it, it was very challenging to teach because it was so comprehensive. So I was actually afraid that if we didn’t separate at the time, people wouldn’t understand, but it was funny because, at the end of the day, all that we did was change the marketing packaging. But when we put them back together, all of a sudden it was crystal clear what we were able to do. So it was actually pretty interesting. And one of the things I’ve learned with fast changes sometimes to lower my expectations or have no expectations or just to. Make decisions and run with them because things that you thought would happen aren’t going to happen and things that you never thought were going to happen are going to happen. So it’s just interesting to respond and react to the things that, that present.

[00:14:27] Gene Hammett: [00:14:27] What have you learned as a leader? And how you communicate in a pivot change that we could all benefit from.

[00:14:34] Brandon Hurd: [00:14:34] It was, it was really important to understand as the leader where it is, you’re trying to go and why you’re trying to go there and strategically communicate the the the reason and how to do it with your team. But it’s extremely important again because a lot of times people are understanding that, but the how is, is, is, is a challenging part. I think, as a leader, if you know where to go, where you’re going. Again, the squiggly line here. It’s going to be all over the place, how you get there, but just be confident to lead them and show them how to do it. Even if it’s on the fly, allow them to leave and show them how to do it firsthand, and make everybody feel comfortable with it.

[00:15:10] Gene Hammett: [00:15:10] Brandon, when you talk about how a lot of my clients know that the best way to grow and scale a company is not to tell people how to do the work or, you know, whatever the next step is, but to let them figure it out and truly empower them. Is that something you’ve embraced at the company?

[00:15:27] Brandon Hurd: [00:15:27] Absolutely. So with the that’s good, that’s a good attitude to clarify that. So it’s not necessarily showing them how to do the task, the specific bullet points of how to do things. That’s how we’re going to do it is in kind of set them on a course trajectory or strategy in a direction to allow those people too. Use their creative juices, if you will, and use their learnings and applications in a specific department or relationship with a customer and figure out the best means to do it.  And absolutely, I think you hire smart people. You know, Steve Jobs said you don’t hire smart people to tell them what to do. You hire smart people and let them do what they’re, what they’re best at because they’re smart and they’re innovative. And you just from my job has become promoting that environment. And given the coach and the guard and the guard, a guard rounds around

[00:16:06] Commentary: [00:16:06] Brandon talks about hiring smart people. You absolutely have to hire smart people. If you want to create a kind of company where people love to come to work. Smart people do require a different kind of leadership. In fact, if you micromanage smart people, they’ll probably leave you. If you don’t empower them to truly think for themselves, they’ll probably leave you. If you don’t give them the space to fail and move forward, they’ll probably leave you. I go through this because if you want to hire smart people and you want to create, be a magnet for talent inside your organization, across your company, then you want to make sure you’re leading people the right way. It all starts with you. You can’t blame other people and wish they were smarter because you hired them. You created the systems that allow those people to be hired, and it all comes back to you. If you don’t get that, then you probably are going to struggle as a leader and as an entrepreneur in the fast-growing world. I know this from experience because I’ve been through it and I help others do it all the time with my work as an executive coach, make sure that you understand what it takes to hire smart people and become the kind of leader that they want to work with. Back to Brandon.

[00:17:16] Gene Hammett: [00:17:16] I noticed that your website, that you have your, your values posted there, I’m always kinda curious. Is that something you guys just have on the website or did these values actually mean something to you guys, you know, daily across the company?

[00:17:30] Brandon Hurd: [00:17:30] So today’s it w every single day, every, every week we have a Monday morning meeting where we go through and every month we have a, what do you call it? A town hall update, if you will. Or we talk about all the different happenings from sales, marketing, operations, general business, and actually, it’s, it’s the second part of our agenda during our monthly call, where different people in the department and myself included different people in different departments. We’ll talk about some of our core four values, which are part of that mission, vision, and values. And one of the things I love to do with that is kind of go back to the why factor is I get customer testimonials. We get we had one from a vendor we work with who has said, man, we really appreciate the way you guys do this. And that’s a really good opportunity for us to, at that time when the mission vision values are up present examples like that, that we’re getting from the marketplace, not only from our customers but also people with whom we work every day. And we can share those things. I think it really gives a lot of credence to what it is that we’re doing.

[00:18:28] Gene Hammett: [00:18:28] I love it. I think everyone in our team loves it and it’s not just something on our website and we practice it every single day. I’m glad you said that. Cause I, again, I, sometimes I ask questions. I don’t know where it could be, but I know that fast-growth companies tend to. Really rely on those being a part of the everyday conversation and the more they make them into the day-to-day work, the operator’s op realization of those values. They begin to live. It does not just have something that they talk about once or twice a year.

[00:18:58] Brandon Hurd: [00:18:58] Yeah. Every day.

[00:19:00] Gene Hammett: [00:19:00] When, you think about your own leadership, Brandon, like what is the thing that you really are. Working on now to be a better leader and to be that really the kind of leader your people need.

[00:19:12] Brandon Hurd: [00:19:12] So that’s a, a great question. It’s always about people’s development.  You know, sometimes as a leader, if you’re being honest, you worry about your own limitations of being a good leader.  I, we talked about, again, not as practicing what we preach, but also you know, mission, vision values. We also have a big pride in education. So one of the benefits that we have for our team members is different pieces of training, certifications, tuition, reimbursement, and as I was putting it out there, but again, leading by example, I recently just took a course through Harvard business school, online on leadership development at a great cohort. Great op I think it was a six or eight-week study.  And as a leader, I want to make sure that I’m leading my team most appropriately and accurately and up-to-date information.  And also building my network because if I can’t, if they, if I can’t provide that kind of environment and I think I’m doing everybody else a disservice.

[00:20:01]Gene Hammett: [00:20:01] What is the biggest thing you learned that, that maybe you weren’t already doing? Through that leadership development course at Harvard?

[00:20:07]Brandon Hurd: [00:20:07] The same problems that we have, or the same problems that many other businesses have. So it was very comforting to know that, you know, everybody has challenges and, and one of the inherent things of being a leader is, is how you manage those challenges. And that was one thing is leadership development. To understand that part of being a leader is how to navigate the challenges, not so much as the task of doing your business, but how to lead your team through these. So that’s what, that was very interesting to learn that from global enterprises to small startups, a lot of the fundamental issues are experienced at all levels and all sizes.

[00:20:38] Gene Hammett: [00:20:38] So you didn’t get very specific with that. I guess I’m curious. What, what are the kinds of problems that. These leaders are having scale.

[00:20:46]Brandon Hurd: [00:20:46] HR  access to capital. You know, everybody has great ideas, but you got to fund it somehow. You’ve got annual budgets.  Again, the same thing we’re talking about here is people. How do you find the right people? Who’s got the right skillset with the competitive landscape of the job market right now. It’s, there’s a lot of great people out there as well, but again, trying to find the right skill set and there’s a lot of competition. So as a small business, you know, you’ve got to really rest on the culture that you put in place, because we may not have the biggest cool as bad as the name on the side of our building. We don’t even have a building that has our name on it. Right. But we may have a high rise, but some people want that. And. At the end of the day to work for a dynamic team and get things done as part of our culture is our big selling point and the success that we have and our mission, all those things. But at the end of the day, as I said, the fundamental problems of supply chains and all those different things, that’s just part of the challenge of being in business.  And successful companies are the ones that have successful leadership in place. So that was really something to kind of keep a true North on a direction on an eye on is that, Hey, these challenges aren’t unique to us. This is the way you do it and just get better at doing it in practice.

[00:21:54] Gene Hammett: [00:21:54] Thank you so much for being a part of the growth think tank conversation on leadership and culture. I think what you contributed here. It’s pretty powerful.

[00:22:02] Brandon Hurd: [00:22:02] Great. Well, thank you.

[00:22:02] Gene Hammett: [00:22:02] So let me wrap up a little bit here because I want to make sure we bring this all together. Any kind of major pivot shift that your company goes through. You do have to get clear about the vision of where you’re going, and then you also have to connect to why, because a lot of companies leave out why you’re making this shift, why are we doing it together? And then finally empowering them to figure out the how of that journey, because that really will change the dynamics of a culture. And the people around you, because they want to be a part of something where they’re contributing their ideas, contributing their own thoughts to this, and not just, you know, waiting for the next step. If you’re looking for your next step as a leader in transforming into a more powerful version of yourself, make sure you reach out to some of the free resources we have. We have a peer-to-peer group that is really about you growing with other fast-growth leaders. If you want to check that out, just go to fastgrowthboardroom.com and you can hang out with others. We do some really cool, interesting things like race Porsche’s and talk about what leadership looks like in fast-growth companies.

[00:23:05] Brandon Hurd: [00:23:05] Cool. That’s you hit it, you know, something that’s I’ve  I’ve had the opportunity to observe firsthand in the last, you know, year, two years mainly.  Is when people make people cut their contributions and letting them figure things out. And sometimes they’re spot on. Sometimes it needs some course correction, but when they created the departments or the culture or ways to do things, it’s really cool to sit back and let people run with it. The success just kind of keeps on coming with that. So I really enjoy that opportunity about my position to watch people get creative and empower them. That’s one thing I really love about it.

[00:23:37] Gene Hammett: [00:23:37] Perfect. Well, that wraps up our episode here on the growth tank. If you think of fast growth and you think of leadership, think of Growth Think Tank as always.  Lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.




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