A Culture of Trust and Support
2021 Contractor of Excellence: Southern Trust Home Services
“One for all and all for one!”
Most of us are familiar with the battle cry of the three musketeers (eventually the four musketeers) from the 1844 novel “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas or the many movie versions. It is a vow of loyalty, of camaraderie, of trust.
Last month we introduced you to two Contractors of Excellence in the east of the country. This month we are going south.
Southern Trust Home ServicesTed Puzio knew in high school that he wanted to be an electrician, but his father demanded that he go to college. After two years, Puzio left and enrolled in a trade school in New Jersey, where he began his four-year apprenticeship as an electrician.
After moving to Virginia in 1995, Puzio started his own business, focusing on residential construction. Frustrated with working with builders, Puzio has transitioned the business to residential service only. Today, Southern Trust Home Services, Roanoke, Va., provides customer service and repair services for plumbing, electrical, heating, air, water treatment, generators, and luxury bath renovations. Of the 52 employees, 10 are HVAC technicians.
“It is critical to demonstrate the highest level of integrity when working with clients and colleagues. Doing what’s right for the customer every time, even when no one is looking.’ – Ted Puzio
“We’ve seen good growth year over year, from 25 percent to 35 percent,” Puzio noted. “Even through the Great Recession and the COVID pandemic, we had nice growth; we added people and trucks every year.”
Safety is of course always important in the construction industry, but another core value of Puzio and Southern Trust is integrity.
“It is critical to demonstrate the highest level of integrity when working with clients and colleagues,” he explains. “Do what’s right for the customer every time, even when no one is looking. And deliver excellent service so that customers are amazed at what they receive, from the first phone call to the moment the technology is ready and driving.”
The motto “All for one and one for all!” is the cornerstone of another core value — creating a culture of trust and support. This makes Southern Trust Home possibleSouthern Trust Services known as a preferred employer in the Roanoke area.
“I wanted to create an environment where everyone works for each other,” explains Puzio. “When I first started in electrical engineering, I worked seven days a week. My boys were small. I missed sporting events, I missed graduations. Most of my technicians have young families, so I tell them that if they have a family commitment, they should talk to the other people in your division, hand over the watch-duty responsibilities, and tell the service manager. As long as the customers are covered and they’re happy, I’m fine with that. The guys work so great.”
Southern Trust HVAC technicians excel at replacements and replacements, Puzio says. Training is an important part of a tech’s career and Southern Trust is happy to make that investment.
The company employs adult students sponsored by the state curriculum who attend school in the evenings. During the day they spend time with mentors in each division.
“We hire emerging high school students and seniors through a state-approved internship program,” he explains. “They come to work on their days off and get high school credits; they go to school on eight scheduled days. Once they graduate, they start working as a full-time employee. We sponsor them through the state curriculum – four years of night school, and then they can take the journeyman exam and then the license.”
Puzio adds that the company hires adult students who are sponsored by the state curriculum and attend school at night. During the day they spend time with mentors in each division. “They are trained to succeed and go to the next level. So we offer real career opportunities here.”
Puzio believes Southern Trust offers something its competitors don’t: peace of mind.
“We offer upfront pricing so our customers know the pricing before we get started on the work they need to do,” he says. “Our employees are properly licensed, background checked and tested for drugs. Our technicians are available 24/7; there is always someone present. A technician can be on his way to the customer within an hour of calling. And we offer a lifetime repair warranty on all repairs listed. So it’s all about peace of mind.”
He adds that Southern Trust also offers services that its competitors don’t, such as digging trenches and repairing underground sewer lines.
Puzio recently joined Service Roundtable, but he acknowledges that CEO Warriors’ coaching services have been invaluable to him since the start of his company: “For guys like me who didn’t hack college, didn’t listen to their dad and it helps to work with a coach/mentor.”
Kelly Faloon is a contributing writer for Contracting Business magazine and director of Faloon Editorial Services. A former editor of Plumbing & Mechanical magazine, she has over 20 years of experience in the plumbing and heating industry and B2B publishing. Faloon holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.