Company’s Success Stems From Employee-Centric Culture

New Mexico’s TLC Plumbing & Utility has made its employees the top priority in order to grow from a single worker three decades ago to nearly 560 today

Company’s Success Stems From Employee-Centric Culture

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Ask most people who they work for, and they’ll provide the name of their employer. TLC Plumbing & Utility of Albuquerque, New Mexico, deliberately works to alter that perspective.

“At TLC, we like to say we work for our families, but we work with TLC,” says Brian Baughman, manager of the company’s trenchless department. “It’s a mindset our owner and founder, Dale Armstrong, has nurtured over the years. It’s a slightly different spin on words, but it has a big impact on how our employees think about the company and our customers.”

A big part of that employee- and customer-centered philosophy stems from the company’s five core values, which Baughman says are ingrained into the company’s culture, not just words on a piece of paper. They are:

• Honesty, with customers, colleagues and the community at large

• Hard work, made effective through dedication and innovation

• Respect, through actions, words and deeds

• Compassion, demonstrated in standards and expectations

• Consistency, in character and dedication to excellence 

TLC Plumbing & Utility also believes strongly in empowering employees with the resources they need, including technologically advanced equipment.

“That philosophy comes full circle and builds employees’ trust in the company,” says Amanda Filip, who works in the company’s marketing department. “In short, we put people before profit.

“Dale believes that the company can’t grow if the employees can’t grow. That’s why we’re always investing in new equipment, education, training, vehicles and facilities. Anything that helps employees grow both personally and professionally builds their confidence in not only themselves, but also in TLC.”

As an example of the company’s commitment to employees, Baughman cites a new $1.3 million, 30,000-square-foot shop that features advanced technology to make life easier for the company’s 14 mechanics.

“Having all of our mechanics under one roof with enough room to work has increased our efficiency and the addition of three vehicle lifts, made by Challenger Lifts, are true back-savers for the guys,” Baughman says.

The employee-focused culture also promotes low turnover, Baughman says, pointing out that he’s been with the company nearly 25 years.

“We have more than 120 employees who’ve been here for 10 years or longer,” he says.

To help ensure that the company hires people who’ll fit in well and buy into its core values, TLC has established a referral bonus program. If someone referred by an employee for a job actually gets hired and stays employed through the initial 90-day probationary period, the referring employee receives a $500 bonus. And if the new hire stays on board for a full year, the company awards the referring employee with another $500, Baughman says.   


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