EZ Street Serves the Greater Good
BY Blaine Parker
About half the staff from EZ Street Asphalt, Miami, was in the Ozarks Oct. 25, volunteering at a training event for rural law enforcement officers. Vice President of Sales Tom Francione declared, “I’m in the zone. Our company culture excites me on a daily basis.”
For a global company known as a market leader in premium cold asphalt, this is not a normal day at EZ Street’s home office. The Missouri family farm belongs to EZ Street’s founders. They’ve developed this free day of Servant Leadership training for local first responders who require continuing training credits—and want something more.
Business Development Manager Brandie Wilson volunteered to run this show. She said, “It’s about being part of something bigger. Servant Leadership allows us to develop stronger relationships. This event is benefitting these first responders, who might not otherwise have the chance to hear Jim Hunter speak.”
Indeed, Jim Hunter is at the core of this effort. He’s one of the world’s prolific teachers of Servant Leadership. It proposes that the leader’s job is to serve, and asks, “Are the people growing?”
The theory is that the company grows through employee commitment and engagement. Fortune 500 companies that encourage Servant Leadership include Marriott, Starbucks, Home Depot, Nordstrom and Whole Foods.
EZ Street invited Hunter to speak to their team in 2003, and brought him back twice before ramping up in 2016. Now, EZ Street Asphalt is changing.
Wilson was candid about it. “We’ve always been a customer-focused company. But I admit that before Servant Leadership, there were people I didn’t want to deal with. That’s changed. I’m better at my job, better with my family, I have a better outlook. My friends. My personal life. I’ve changed.”
Still, why have Dag and Lars Seagren, EZ Street’s founding brothers, given over their Missouri farm to three dozen police officers and sheriffs’ deputies, flown in Hunter, and catered lunch for all? President Dag Seagren said, “We like to see our employees grow. And we want to share that same gift with the community here. This is a rural area, with a lot of the challenges that affect rural communities today. Few professions have community impact like law enforcement does. We want to give back. The important thing in life is what we can do to help others lead in their own lives.”
The investment in Servant Leadership is paying off. Francione—who attended the Ozarks event because he wanted to rise to the challenge—offered some insight. “No matter what your job title is, you lead. Our colleagues, customers, stakeholders, rely on our servant leadership. We are committed to the growth of others. Servant Leadership is about empathy, listening, awareness, being approachable, and community building, to name a few. Demonstrating to people that you, as a leader, are willing to be right there side by side with the people you lead.”
It’s also paying off for the bottom line. Francione shared: “How do we define the bottom line? Making more money, selling more tons, volume, happy employees, excited customers, great character, positive energy? If you put all of that into perspective, Servant Leadership has an impact on all of those. It gives us all a stake in the bottom line, and working toward that common good. If we focus on being a group of all leaders, and our culture of excellence, the bottom line will feel it as well.”