Constructing Continuity

We recently celebrated two CMSWillowbrook employees who have been with us for 40 years – 10 times the national median employee tenure.

Senior Superintendent Allen Neal and Project Superintendent Tommy Holt started working at the company in 1978, just five years after I founded CMSWillowbrook. Over the last four decades, the pair went from learning the ropes to leading the team.

At our company’s annual meeting, we rewarded their dedication with vacations to the destinations of their choice. Tommy is set for a European cruise while Allen has yet to decide his bucket-list adventure.

CMSWillowbrook wouldn’t be where it is today without them, so we were excited to hear why Allen and Tommy chose to spend their careers with us.

Cary DeHart is the CEO at CMSWillowbrook

 
Tommy Holt and Allen Neal celebrate 40 years of service at CMSWillowbrook’s 2019 Annual Meeting.

Tommy Holt and Allen Neal celebrate 40 years of service at CMSWillowbrook’s 2019 Annual Meeting.

 


A Chance Encounter

Cary and I went to high school together in Chickasha, but it was a chance encounter with him that brought me to CMSWillowbrook.

Several years after graduation, we ran into each other in our home town. Cary had just bought a lumber yard for his growing construction management firm and needed to inventory the many buildings. I volunteered to help. When I was finished with that project, Cary kept me on to deliver materials and clean up job sites. I quickly transitioned to the millwork shop, where I honed my carpentry skills under the mentorship of Chick Griffin.

Seven years after starting at CMSWillowbrook, I was promoted to superintendent and oversaw my first job at Carnegie Middle School. From there, I took on bigger and more complicated jobs, working my way up to senior superintendent. Now, I get to teach others as they come up through the ranks. Mentoring is one of my favorite parts of my job because I remember being eager to learn something new.

Cary took a chance when he hired me and then gave me an opportunity to build a career. I have stayed so long because loyalty goes both ways in this company. I am dedicated to constructing the best product, and CMSWillowbrook is dedicated to developing employees and providing us with job security. I’ve always had steady work and the support of my team, and that is rare in this industry.

-Allen Neal, Senior Superintendent

Allen Neal

Allen Neal



The Summer Job That Never Ended

I came to work just a few months after Allen Neal. I was 17 at the time and was hired on as summer help. I ended up staying a little longer than originally expected … by about 39-and-a-half years.

My mentor back then was Jerry Rowell, and we worked together four years until he retired. I was 21 years old when I landed my first superintendent job at Grand Avenue School in Chickasha. I grew up in Chickasha, and I always enjoy working there and making the community even better.

My kids used to tease me that I built every building in town, because I would point and say, “I built that! And I built that one, too!” as we drove around.

That sense of pride and accomplishment is one of my favorite parts of what I do. When our team finishes a project, we can literally see the fruits of our labor.

Teamwork is definitely a key to our success, and a big part of the reason I would never work for another construction management firm. Cary’s hands-on approach helped transform me from a laborer into a highly skilled professional. I’ve been able to share my knowledge with others. I’ve seen a lot of our employees start as my workers and get promoted to management roles because the company focused on developing them, not just giving them work.

Many things have changed in the 40 years I’ve worked at CMSWillowbrook. We’re growing rapidly, and the next generation of DeHarts has successfully stepped into leadership roles. But some things never change: We are still building value with integrity and second-to-none quality.

-Tommy Holt, Project Superintendent

 
Tommy Holt

Tommy Holt

 
 

Bonus Content: Hear directly from Allen Neal and Tommy Holt on why they enjoy working with CMSWillowbrook.

 
 
Larisha Hunter