A Solid Philosophy for Life and Business
PREFERRED GLOBAL, INC. believes a strong foundation
sustains a building—and a company
It may be hard for some to imagine that PREFERRED GLOBAL, INC. CEO, John Norton, found his calling in the painting and flooring contracting industry decades ago. After graduating from Taylor University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, John first dabbled in commercial real estate and banking. But when a recession hit, he went to work for a small, local painting company. Enthralled with the company culture and leadership, John became part of its succession plan and, in 1997, purchased the Indianapolis, Indiana, branch of the business. The rest is history.
Specializing in industrial/commercial painting, resinous floor coatings and concrete floor polishing (i.e., epoxy, urethane, decorative floor systems, polish/dye), PREFERRED GLOBAL, INC. primarily works in the retail/commercial, manufacturing/production, food/beverage, and automotive industries.
Same Roots, Different Name
Originally founded as a small painting company in 1972, PREFERRED GLOBAL, INC. has expanded its clientele and changed the name to reflect a now-global reach. However, the founding principles that shaped the firm remain the same—integrity, urgency and communication.
John’s team strives to outperform other contracting firms by proving the common misconceptions wrong. “I’d say everybody seems to have the same complaints about contractors. They are late, they don’t show up, or they cut corners,” John says. “We’re different because we want lasting relationships with our customers, so we are extremely communicative and perform consistently at a high level to achieve trust.”
The Three Maxims
To John, the company’s founding principles are seen in everything he and his staff do daily. Elaborating, John says, “We want to over-communicate with our clients, respond with urgency and always demonstrate integrity. That’s critical to us.”
One recent example involves a large project the team recently completed where a portion of the work was subcontracted. Upon inspection, the project manager discovered the subcontracted work was poorly executed. He made the decision to correct the work, at a cost of $100,000. John says, “We knew the client wasn’t going to be happy with the work and, ultimately, it was an issue about our integrity. So it was a no-brainer that our team would make this right and incur the cost to do so.”
Relationships, Not Projects
Long-term relationships, like the one PREFERRED GLOBAL, INC. shares with retail giant Nike, has been key to its success. “When you contract with a large company like Nike, you deal with many layers of people who are continuously looking for consultants that provide better value or better people. Nike has hired less expensive contractors, but they’ve come back to us every time. They realize it’s not the cost of the project that’s an issue. It is the relationship the foreman and superintendent have with the owner and other trades on-site,” John says. “And, all of our repeat manufacturing business in town is the same—they’ve tried to find somebody else, but always come back to us because of our strong relationships.”
Nick Castro, Operations Manager for PREFERRED GLOBAL, INC.’s Southeast Region, also speaks highly about relationships—but for him, it was the interpersonal relationships that enticed him to join the firm three years ago. “The one thing I immediately noticed was that John has developed a tight-knit group of employees, many with longevity at the firm. I realized early on this was a solid company that cares about its people,” Nick says.
Give and Take
The company’s polished concrete services have become a huge part of its business—and many big retailers are using this product. “Nike was where we got our feet wet, and because of this, we quickly became polished concrete specialists,” John says. “We had to look at specialty products to pour over the existing concrete to make it look like the existing slab, so we created a polishable overlap using TRU products from CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp.”
In the shop you will see samples of different kinds of products. Thanks to its vendors, the company stays actively engaged in research and development. According to John, “Most contractors want to be the expert—and we are—but they also need specific vendors to partner with because these vendors can provide incredible support and insight about the products and how to install them.”
John feels strongly about treating his key vendors like customers. The mutually beneficial relationship works as his partners understand that the team will go to bat for the product and can install materials without the issues other contractors may experience.
PREFERRED GLOBAL, INC. is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, but also has locations in Dallas, Los Angeles and Atlanta—the last being its most recent expansion effort. Nick has been in Atlanta for four years, brought on board specifically to expand the firm’s presence in the Southeast. He’s done a great job—the company has already built a large portfolio in the region, including major projects in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.
One recent project is the UTC Carrier Corporation plant in Athens, Georgia. As a world leader in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions, Carrier is one of many clients PREFERRED GLOBAL, INC. has in the manufacturing/industrial industry, one of its niche markets. Also a prime industry is food/beverage, which includes clients like Fieldale Farms Corporation, Prime Pak Foods Inc. and Legendary Meats.
Because the flooring systems are easily damaged by substances such as fats, oils, sugar and food acids, expertise in this area is crucial. To adhere to the health and safety guidelines of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), flooring systems must be bacteria- resistant and maintain cleanliness.
Nick says, “Because we specialize in the food and beverage industry, we have flooring products we’ve specifically designed to streamline achieving USDA requirements and approval. Remodels and renovations are our bread and butter as the USDA requires flooring to be consistently up to standard.”
Sara Kolenda, the Sales/Marketing Manager for the Southeast Region, moved to Atlanta in July to be closer to the action, and Nick is excited to have the help. “Sara is hands-on, always displays great energy and passion, and offers extensive experience in sales. Her willingness to move to the Southeast is a big commitment on her part, and I’m grateful to have her here,” he says.
Rewarding Great Performance
To John, operating his company with integrity also means supporting his staff as he would family. “I would do anything for my staff,” he says, “and I know that feeling is reciprocated.” He rewards excellent customer service right on the spot. “If I have a customer that pays a foreman a compliment, I hand out a $100 bill in that moment for the compliment. And, we give every team member who reaches their 10-year anniversary with our company a Rolex watch. Believe it or not, I’m giving away more and more of these because our employees are staying longer. It’s an honor to see this.”
John also chooses to hire based on talent and not for geographic expansion. “Like in Nick’s case in Atlanta, we will open an operation in a new location if we see people who can make a difference in that location. It’s all about finding the right person with the right character, and the rest of the business falls into place,” he says.
When John first started this job, he followed in the footsteps of those who came before him, embracing that if he could make people feel wanted or needed they would perform at a high level. “I want to show I truly care about my staff personally, and how they operate from a business perspective is secondary. I want them to know they are cared for,” John says.
According to Nick, Sara and others throughout the firm, he’s achieved this goal.