March 13, 2013

Cover Story

CEO of the Year

Effective leaders often credit their team members for successes and achiev...Read More

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CEO of the Year

By Heather Stewart

March 13, 2013

Cementation is a contracting company that designs and builds underground mines. It works with many of the largest mines in the region, including Kennecott Utah Copper and Barrick Gold. It is currently working on a significant and challenging expansion project in Arizona that involves sinking a deep, 28-foot-diameter shaft down to 7,000 feet—depths with rock temperatures up to 175 degrees.

“The thing about contracting that’s really unique is it’s really a team … because we compete against other companies much like ours to win work,” says Nadon.

Fostering an atmosphere of teamwork, respect and humor is important to Nadon, who says one thing he’s always loved about mining is the camaraderie. He describes his leadership philosophy as “MWA,” or management walking around. “Get out of your office and really get to know your people and really keep your pulse on the relationships and how people are doing and how people are feeling about their jobs,” he says.

Safety is a top priority at Cementation. Steve Leatherwood, director of finance for Cementation, says Nadon’s most significant accomplishment has been establishing a culture that values safety over profits. “Cementation prides ourselves in being a great place to work—not only for our office employees, but especially for our miners. We’re very concerned that our miners go home safely every day,” says Leatherwood.

In fact, Nadon once severed a client relationship when that company did not live up to Cementation’s safety standards.

“He’s made excellence a habit in the way that he works, the way that every single day he comes to work energetic, upbeat and positive,” says Leatherwood. “He has a way of demanding excellence by the way that he carries himself.”

Leatherwood adds that Nadon is skilled at gaining the trust of clients, business partners and employees. “When people sit down with Mike across the table and are negotiating something, they get a real sense of character from him.”

WAYNE SEARLE — President & CEO, SME Steel

In 2010, Wayne Searle stepped into the role of CEO for SME Steel—and he had some pretty big shoes to fill. The company’s co-founders, Craig and Jerry Moyes, were extremely respected by the employees, clients and vendors.

“For the first time since the beginning of the company there is someone in that seat who doesn’t have the last name Moyes, and that has been a challenging, daunting task that Wayne has done extremely well,” says Gordon Holladay, CFO for SME Steel.

Part of the challenge has been helping the company survive the Great Recession. The effects of that downturn were immediate and severe. Searle recalls a casino development project in Las Vegas that was unceremoniously cancelled. “It was about a $230, $240 million project and we’d worked up about half of it; we were right smack in the middle of it and all of a sudden it stopped,” he says.

The company had to figure how to deal with the financial fallout, store all the steel and—most importantly—keep the employees working.

“We all just got together and stayed very calm through the process. We met with the customer, the owner, and were able to work everything out,” says Searle. “We were paid promptly and treated well because we tried to work with our customer instead of against them.”

Another challenge was avoiding layoffs of key tradespeople during the lean times. Searle helped the organization become more efficient and cost effective—and employees were asked to take pay cuts, among other cost-reduction measures. “Now it’s time to start rewarding those people,” he says.

Over the years, Searle has created tremendous relationships throughout the industry, says Holladay. “Wayne has a great ability to go out to job sites with the contractor and the owner of the building … and talk in their language with engineers and architects and the real nitty-gritty construction people and represent the point of view of steel.”

Searle says his goal is for the company to become the first $1 billion steel company. While it’s not quite there yet, his tenure as CEO has ushered in a new era of growth for SME Steel. The company has experienced about 400 percent growth since 2010. It employs 1,200 people in Utah, Idaho, Arizona and Nevada.

SME has a global reach, with sales in Latin America, Asia and Europe. Recent high-profile projects include Disney Cars Land, City Creek Center, the San Francisco 49ers’ new football stadium and the Primary Children’s Medical Center expansion.

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