Wayne Searle: Local Values, Global Vision

Melanie Johnson

August 1, 2012

Over an 18 year period, Wayne Searle has worked in almost every department at SME Steel Contractors. From draftsman to COO and everything in between, Searle has been part of significant growth for the West Jordan-based company. Now as recently appointed CEO, Searle has big plans for SME Steel—and that means doing business on a global scale.

“The next big step for us is to become more international based,” Searle says.

Better positioning SME Steel on a global stage means pursuing mining projects throughout the world. Searle says the company is negotiating jobs in South America, Canada, Israel and Ireland, with plans in place to set up a satellite office in Chile. SME Steel is also collaborating with a general contracting firm in Germany to secure projects from Belfast to Jerusalem.

If all goes according to plan, it will boost revenue for SME Steel from $450 million to more than $1 billion.

With roughly 1,000 employees in the western United States, Searle takes a global approach to growing SME Steel while remaining true to the core values that have brought his company success. He says SME Steel has flourished by creating an environment that fosters open communication and encourages teamwork.

“I believe in the team concept,” Searle says. “The equipment is the same, the steel is the same—the only thing that differentiates you from your competition is the people.”

Patty Johnson, executive assistant and marketing director for SME Steel, says that Searle treats each employee like a real person and takes an active interest in their life. The whole company feels like a family, Johnson says, because Searle takes time to create that sort of atmosphere.

“He sees the big picture. He looks forward, yet he doesn’t forget the details,” Johnson says. “He takes the time to walk around to ensure everyone has the resources, tools and support they need.”

Searle takes special pride in helping to construct buildings that influence the lives of people in a positive way. He learned firsthand the difference SME Steel makes during his recent battle with kidney cancer.

The cancer diagnosis for Searle came in early May. He had surgery to remove the kidney at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray—a facility that SME Steel helped to build. “I was in the right hands with the right people,” Searle says. “The structure we helped build helped save my life.”

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