Innovation: Delivering Value

THE FIFTH WALL WAY:  INNOVATION PILLAR:

 

Hearing a new employee with over 15 years of roofing experience with a competitor marvel at the new methods he learned one day while observing one of our crews and using words like “quicker,” “easier,” “better,” and “amazing.” That’s innovation.

With only five years of service at Texas Fifth Wall, I am a relative newcomer. I’ve invested a significant effort over these years to understand the culture of the company, how to exert leadership, and how to manage change within my realm of influence. Frankly, when the idea of “Innovation” landed in our tag line and as the third leg in our concept of The Fifth Wall Way, I had to step back and really consider: what is innovation?

“Change; novelty; newfangled idea” is how Webster’s describes “innovation.” But does that accurately describe Texas Fifth Wall, a nearly 40-year-old company that often seems so slow to change?

Granted, Fifth Wall pioneered single-ply roofing in the region; our equipment boneyard is full of well-worn equipment that, in the beginning, was considered innovative in roofing applications. Our history is littered with awards from suppliers, service providers, and industry groups such as our recent second annual Top 100 Safety Award amongst Texas Mutual’s 53,000 insured.

Do such things make us innovative? In a world where innovation is set by a rapid schedule of featureless product releases geared more toward encouraging another purchase than delivering value, I guess we fail the test. But let’s talk about innovation done The Fifth Wall Way:

  •  Delivering energy efficient roofing systems to Central Texas in the 1970s—before energy efficiency was cool. That’s innovation.
  • Watching our guys working in the warehouse creating a new “something” that increases their efficiency or enhances safety. That’s innovation.
  • Seeing equipment manufacturers eagerly working with our V.P. of Operations to fine tune their products, then readily deploying those tools or methods to increase productive capacity and efficiency. That’s innovation.
  • Hearing a new employee with over 15 years of roofing experience with a competitor marvel at the new methods he learned one day while observing one of our crews and using words like “quicker,” “easier,” “better,” and “amazing.” That’s innovation.
  • Having contractors in the roofing industry talk about how much easier and pleasant it is to work with us than with others, and for them to recognize the process and discipline by which we execute from the field through the office. For well respected general contractors to say they trust us—that our quality, safety, and production programs are unmatched. That’s innovation.
  • Realizing the investment of human and financial capital in technology and programs by helping the customer better manage the roof lifecycle. To be recognized for our new construction capabilities, to offer experienced service technicians and our ProVigil Roof Protection Program to help facility managers extend the life of their roof, then to be there for them when a reroof is necessary. That’s innovation.

While I recall a time not long ago when I thought innovation occurred when the declining revenue of an end-of-life product was met with yet another new product launch, I can now say that I have a much deeper respect for innovation that delivers value. Innovation like that delivered through The Fifth Wall Way.