To help improve the flow and tracking of information Roberts Traffic Marking created the position of vice president of project management, staffed by Diane Salafia. The position handles all projects from award to completion, customer service, preparation of pay applications, and invoicing. In addition to signing contracts and coordinating projects on the administrative side, Salafia works with estimating so when field workers come in at the end of the day she can get accurate information from the crews.
Ready to stand on its own
Birchfield says that by creating positions to divide responsibilities, and by finding the right people to fill those positions, they have enhanced the value of the company because information, expertise, and operations are contained within the structure of the company and not solely within the individuals who work there.
"The never-ending circle of recruiting, hiring, training, and firing continues - until we now have a great core group of stripers and crew leaders who demonstrate our 'family' commitment and work ethic. This is where we are today," Birchfield says.
Bids and estimates now are handled by Star Lilly, who started at RTM as a receptionist/bid coordinator, researching new opportunities. Payroll and human resources is the realm of Debbie Kafka, who in addition to the complicated payroll handles owner/contractor controlled insurance programs, subcontractors, certificates of insurance, employee benefits, and certified payroll reporting. And a renewed approach to employees has encouraged people to stay and grow with the company. In fact one employee, Wade Hinds, a 10-year employee who the company found through a labor pool, has become an outstanding employee and "one of our most dependable, dedicated workers."
This restructuring has decentralized decision-making, broadened accountability, and freed up Birchfield. "Releasing control of the business to other people is scary, yet with the clear accountabilities in place, and with proper oversight, we are moving forward," Birchfield says. "We're moving literally from a mom-and-pop business to a corporation. That's what we want to do and need to do so I can have the freedom to grow the business and enjoy personal time like my parents never could."
Birchfield views her role as broader and less focused on day-to-day issues, which was the goal as RTM began its transformation.
"As we have grown, information - timely and accurate - is more critical, especially in our current economic environment where we must respond quickly to a multitude of issues including production and economic effects as they are happening to determine and identify opportunities as well as potential issues," Birchfield says. "With stronger financial expertise, the future can be directed more effectively and protected."
She says she hasn't always had the time to evaluate all the information, compare this year to last, and ask the tough questions, "Are we on track?" and "Where can we adjust to work smarter, not harder?"
"Within this corporate structure I will be able to evaluate these numbers more carefully in order to respond quickly to production issues and economic effects.
"By following policies and procedures with the same level of commitment as originally shown by family, RTM will stand on its own with dedication and structure supporting the foundation of success that has been built over the past 40 years."