As ATI Restoration has scaled to dozens of locations and 1000s of employees, they've retained their family emphasis by continuing to prioritize the well-being and growth of their employees. In this episode, we explore how they've done it and why it's so important to their continued success.
How do we maintain that family culture, our core values as we continue to grow and double and triple and quadruple our business? And that's got to be at our core. And we can't do it as a family. I can't be in 60 offices in one month, right? That's why we created our ATI Cares ambassadors, right? Our ATI Cares ambassadors. We have about two to four in every office. They're at the core, helping us spread the word of ATI Cares. How do we maintain that? How do we hear the voice of the employee? How do we make changes? We have employees from the field all the way up through management that have all of our cell phone numbers. They can call us at any time. We're very engaged ownership, we encourage the challenge. Just because we've been doing it for 20 years doesn't mean it's right. We want there's new technology, there's new ways of doing business. And I think that's what our employees find fascinating. As soon as they bring something up, we're willing to listen and change. And that's what's different between us and some of our competition, is we're a phone call away. We can make that change today. We can implement that change tomorrow.
Welcome to the Restoration. Playbook podcast by KnowHow. I'm Paul Silliman, and the goal of this podcast is to give you an insight into how the restoration industry's most innovative companies are building a world class workforce. One step at a time. We interview the biggest names in restoration and explore in depth how they're building team culture, developing their employees, and strengthening loyalty, all while increasing revenue. In today's episode, we're chatting with Jeff and Ryan Moore from ATI Restoration. 35 years ago, their father founded ATI. Today, Jeff, Ryan and the rest of the team have scaled their company to unprecedented heights. With over 2000 employees across 60 locations.
I sat down with Jeff and Ryan to investigate how they've made working with family work, how they enforce and saturate their values, and what their advice would be to growing restoration companies who want to keep family first. We're about to kick off this action packed episode with ATI Restorations, Jeff and Ryan Moore. But first, I have to tell you a little bit about KnowHow. Knowhow is a software tool for growing restoration companies who want to equip their staff with the information they need to succeed in their role. From tight, structured new employee onboarding to step by step guidance on how to use the equipment out in the field, knowhow ensures your workers do everything the right way every time. Plus, with over 600 restoration industry templates on everything from how to use an injector dry to which exactimate line items you should enter, you don't need to start from scratch to begin equipping your team. This podcast is all about how to invest in your team. If you're looking to onboard, train, and upscale your team, you have to check out KnowHow. All right. With that, let's kick things off with Jeff and Ryan Moore from ATI.
So, first off, welcome to the podcast. Jeff and Ryan, for those of our listeners who are unfamiliar, can you guys just give us a quick, like, what's your guys' origin story? Like, how did ATI come about?
So ATI has been in business since 1989. Was founded by our father, Gary Moore. Started with one van, three employees. Fast forward to 34 years later. You have Jeff, myself and our other brother, Scott Moore, who've been in the business. We started from the ground up, started in the warehouse and kind of worked our way up through the organization. We're now sitting at about 2000 employees in 60 locations across the country. Father is still in the business. He is the chairman. You have myself, who's overseeing the sales across the country. You have Jeff, who's overseeing our M&A team mergers and acquisitions. And then you've got our brother Scott, who is overseeing kind of our catastrophe large loss response team and operations throughout the country as well.
Awesome. Well, one thing we wanted to talk about was just the family aspect of API. We talk to a lot of companies that start off as family businesses, but few of them continue to emphasize the family part that you guys really do. How did that come about and how does that really kind of intertwine in you guys' culture?
So I think at the crux, the only one in the direct family that doesn't work in the business is mom. I do think Mom's kind of the patriarch in making sure that we are really close as a group. I'll be honest, I think anyone who works with family members, it has its trials and tribulations. But I'll be honest, we are exponentially closer. If it's not work, it's personal. But we are very actively engaged with each other and we really don't know anything different. I don't even remember the last time one of us had a fight with one another. It's just one of those things that we grow up in. We don't argue over work. I think as we've scaled the business and as we've gotten bigger and learned to make sure everyone has their own lanes, it was a lot harder early on, because if you're both over operations, everyone has a different opinion on how you can do something or how you could do a job, how you could estimate a job, how to entertain a client. So I think if you're a family in business, in restoration, the more you can segue and make sure you're all doing what you're really good at and you're not contradicting each other, it makes it a lot easier. But when you're stepping on each other's business, certainly there was times and years where it was more challenging because of that. But I think once you figure that out and you respect the family member, not only as a family member, but as an employee, and they're in a seat for the reason you have to trust their judgment if they're overseeing a certain department. And the second you don't, that's when you get all of the stories and the horror stories that everyone hears in terms of family businesses.
I think to follow that. The thing I pride ourselves most with our family is there is no ego within our own family. We're going to do whatever's best for the organization, whatever's best for the company, regardless of what our title is, what our responsibility is. We want to make sure we're making the right decision for our employees, our secondary family within the business. And I think we take that very seriously. Father started the company. We have a legacy to fulfill. If anyone's as passionate, nobody's more passionate than me and my brothers are right to continue this legacy for hopefully one day, one of our children want to continue working in the business like we do. In order to do that, we took training and education very seriously. We joined Cal State Fullerton Center for Family Business. We did the Kellogg School of Business on governing family businesses. So we've done everything that we possibly can to educate ourselves on how do we continually successfully transition the business from generation one to generation two and generation two to generation three. I think everybody knows success stories in family businesses are not very high, right? So it's something that we pride ourselves in. We don't want to let our father down. We don't want to let that legacy down. We want to continue to build upon what our father started.
No one that's amazing that you guys even took those steps to really drive that and have that education going forward. I personally came started at a restoration shop that was family and did not go well. I've been in a couple of meetings where it got a little feisty, but with all that time, is there a point you guys can remember where that effort to really create that family experience across all your staff kind of took place, especially while you guys were growing?
I think some of it, I think from the personal family perspective, it was maybe eight or ten years ago, we kind of started meeting on a quarterly basis. We hired an outside family advisor, and I mentioned the patriarch of the family's, mom, who's never been in the business, and her thing was, I want you guys to be as successful, and you guys do whatever you want in the business. I only have one requirement, and that's the fact that the second this business tears you guys apart, this is not of interest to the family, and that has allowed us to grow. But I think going back to what Ryan talked about, no egos, I think that goes through the whole organization. And it doesn't matter what your last name is, we will never continue to grow we will not be successful unless our employees have a voice. And it doesn't matter. I was just talking to one of my employees earlier. We've got an acquisition that we're closing in the next couple of weeks here, and we were debating on the term of a lease. And one of my employees is, well, Jeff, I think it should be two years. And I'm like, Well, I think it should be five years, because that's the right thing to do. But I'll give you some latitude, and you make the right decision. This is right up your alley. As the owner, you can't tell someone what to do. At the end of the day, he's managing that process on my behalf, and he was getting my opinion. I need employees at all levels to challenge the status quo. We don't know everything. We've never been bigger than what we are today. So every year, we hit a new threshold in the size of the business that we are. We need really smart, opinionated people that challenge status quo, challenge the moors, challenge the leadership, C suite. That's what makes us a better version of ourselves. We can't continue to do what we did three years ago.
No, that's great to hear, because on this podcast, we talk to a lot of business leaders. And growing your company, giving that kind of empowerment to your employees, it's not like it was 20 years ago, ten years ago, where it was just labor workers running out. You're building that company culture. You're building a family. Like, having people who have that freedom to challenge that, to find ways to grow, I think, is something we're hearing more and more of. And it's evident with you guys, especially the more you guys are growing and more you're scaling, how important is that kind of family, but also that empowerment of kind of growth with your employees.
Well, we talk about our core values, which is ATI Cares. Right. And our philosophy is, if you don't adapt, you die. So we can't continue to go by the status quo. If we continue to follow what dad started 34 years ago, we wouldn't be where we're at today. And I think that's evident in some of the talent that we brought in, not only within the industry, but outside of the industry. Yes. All we know is restoration. We've all grown up in the business. That's all we ever know. But bringing in business leaders outside of the industry to teach us business, how do we manage people? How do we keep our core values intact? We created ATI Cares about six years ago, and it was really in alignment. If you look at our family's core values versus the company's core values, they're very similar. I think that's our biggest focus right now when we talk about scaling the business. How do we maintain that family culture, our core values, as we continue to grow and double and triple and quadruple our business? And that's got to be at our core, and we can't do it as a family. I can't be in 60 offices in one month. Right. That's why we created our ATI Cares ambassadors. Right. Our ATI Cares ambassadors; we have about two to four in every office. They're at the core, helping us spread the word of ATI Cares. And how do we maintain that? How do we hear the voice of the employee? How do we make changes? We have employees from the field all the way up through management that have all of our cell phone numbers. They can call us at any time. We're a very engaged ownership. We encourage the challenge. Just because we've been doing it for 20 years doesn't mean it's right. We want there's new technology, there's new ways of doing business, and I think that's what our employees find fascinating. As soon as they bring something up, we're willing to listen and change. And that's what's different between us and some of our competition, is we're a phone call away. We can make that change today, we can implement that change tomorrow.
Wow, that's incredible to see. Especially those lines of communication. Because when you guys do get bigger and bigger, anyone who's worked in larger companies knows it's harder and harder to get a message upwards. It's definitely something in the restoration industry because it's not an easy industry. Let's be honest. These are long hours. These are most homeowners, worst day of their life. So being able to have that communication, but also knowing that, frankly, your owners have your back, like someone's there for you and listening is a huge thing driving forward. Yeah. One of the things I saw is when your values are crystal clear, the decision staff have to make become much easier. That's something I saw you guys put out there. Is there an example of any hard decisions or kind of ways you've had to navigate making sure those values are crystal clear?
I think just training. When we came up with ATI Cares, went out to every office, and we have to live every decision by ATI Cares. Whether it's a customer, it's doing the right thing with an employee. We get submissions every month from employees. It's incredible what some of the submissions we get, whether someone doing a great job at work. A couple of my favorite stories, one was one of our competitors was stranded on the side of the freeway, and someone submitted, like, an ATI Cares award. And not only did they help them fix their car, they took them back to their office, and it was their biggest competitor in the marketplace. And every decision we make has to be right thing always. What is the right thing to do? Whether it's a really tough thing to do, whether it's going to cost the company a lot of money. It's more important to do those things when no one's watching and no one's paying attention than when all eyes are on you. And it's making sure that all the employees understand what our values are. Because honestly, before we created it, no one knew what they were. And we spent a lot of time and money invested to make sure that everyone down the organization understands what our core values are.
I think a prime example of that we've gone through between last year and this year, we're making a huge investment in our ERP, and we're going through that right now. And right now at the top, we thought it was a great system that we had invested in. Then we started to talk about the field level, the management level, and they said, Guys, we can't roll this out. That was a couple of million dollar mistake that we made. And we said, absolutely, you're right. If it's not going to make a difference in our field and our manager's eyes, we need to absolutely stop it and we need to make the investment in what's right for the organization. Right? Just because we thought it was the right tool to do and at the right time, when we found out it wasn't going to make a significant impact within the organization from the field up, we stopped it immediately and brought their buy in, and we're completely reverting that. And it was a couple of million dollar mistake we made. But it's the right thing to do because we need to make that investment for our employees, not for our management team. No.
That's fantastic. Especially there's a lot of people out there who were bought or part of other organizations and you kind of get lost in the weeds. So hearing that you guys take that decision to make sure something's going to come across the line, to make sure it's going to help your organization, that’s mind blowing. That's fantastic to hear. Now, obviously you guys are growing. You're scaling fast. How much does that company culture that maybe is at a location prior to coming on board with you guys? Is that something you guys look for and someone that you may look to acquire or bring on board?
I think first and foremost is culture. I mean, at the end of the day, there's 15,000 restorers out there. There's lots of people that know how to do the job. But first and foremost, you've got to have a good rapport with the owner. How much is he? As you're talking to an owner, he or she, how engaged and concerned are they about their employees? Because there's owners I talk to that they're only concerned about dollars and cents. It's not a good fit. I've got others that spend 90% of the time about their employees. Like, how is this going to impact my employees? My number two, how is it going to impact the person I hired last week? How are you going to treat my employees? What are you going to do to the employees. Those are the people we're looking for. We're looking for how you answer those softball questions on how you treat your people. How are you talking about them? You're on the phone with me. No one else is hearing the conversation. And how are your reviews online? How are your Glassdoor rankings? So, again, all the things that you do in front of people and all the things you do behind of people.
Absolutely. And one of the things we found in our report we did with CNR magazine this past December on the state of the industry is a lot of people are struggling with finding employees, hiring good people. How do you see this family first approach? How does it affect your kind of turnaround, like being able to bring someone in and build that career knowing they have that support? This is somewhere that they want to grow and be with.
I think our employees, they're our number one asset, right? They're the heart and soul of our organization. So I think what's most important to us is education and training. How do we invest back into the employee? Which is why we created ATI University. With ATI University, we got over 100,000 hours invested last year alone that our employees are able to log in online and do training invested within themselves. We've also created career paths. How do you get from a technician to a supervisor, from a supervisor to a project manager to a project director? Those are amazing opportunities. That's part of our core values. When we look back at 2022 alone, we had 155 internal promotions. That's something that we pride ourselves in, and we're really proud of that. When we talk about bringing in a new acquisition, hey, maybe this new acquisition has three locations where you're coming into an organization that has 60, that's 60 other opportunities. If you want to relocate, if you want to move up within the organization, we want to invest in you. If we don't have the tools and the education, bring it to us. We are more than willing to do that. We want to know that you want to move up in the organization, and we will invest our time and our money in that employee. I would love to have a success story of promoting internally rather than going out and hiring from one of our competitors when we know they come up the ATI way, we have a much better success rate. The other thing that I think is probably the most interesting stat that I've seen from our HR department is 10% of our employees are back for a second time. It's a very competitive industry. I think it's been influx of capital. There's been big time recruiting and poaching from one competitor to another. And the grass isn't always greener, right? I think everybody sees that opportunity. I think it's an interesting stat that our employees have gone out and see what else is out there, and they've come back. And our employees, right now, they're our number one asset. They're our biggest recruiter. So we put incentivized programs together for referrals. They're going to be our number one asset. Their family, their friends, they're the number one recruiters that we have within the organization, and that's really been a big help for us as we continue to grow and expand throughout the country.
You don't see that very much. Restoration is one of those people think the grass is greener, or they're going to leave and go something else, or people don't realize that you can build a career in this industry. It's not just a launching point to your next job. So, yeah, that's awesome to hear a.
Couple of things I want to add in. I think it's all the other things you do as well besides opportunities, besides career building. At the end of the day, we all choose to come to work. We spend a lot of time with our work family, and so making sure people are happy they're engaged, providing opportunities for them, whether it's lunches, whether it's education, whether it's getting together. Like, I know a bunch of offices are doing, like, a team building event here in the next 30 to 45 days across the country, where they're going to baseball games together. We still do Christmas parties. My dad's founded the company on Cinco de Mayo, so every one of our 60 locations does a big party on Cinco de Mayo. I think it's all those little things that you do. It's the bonuses at the end of each quarter for all the employees. It's having the pay plans. It's all the things that you do. It's the acknowledgment that means so much more than a lot of things and what people really realize, and the more you can do to take care of your family members. I've got an example. I won't go into details, but recently here I'm in Arizona, and we had an employee that went through some bad times and not based off ownership, but the local office says, hey, we want to raise money because someone's going through a tough time and we want to send them to them and their kids and their grandkids to a resort. And so the office, on their own behalf again, because we are a family, they did reach out, and they told us what they were doing after they started doing it, but they ended up raising, like, $3,500 for this. Employee to go spend two or three nights at the Great Wolf Lodge, all expenses paid. Because a family member was going through a difficult time. And even though that family members, they're not a Moore, they're part of the ATI family, which is our family. And at the end of the day, you take care of your own. And it's amazing to see what our employees do again when no one's paying attention.
Absolutely. I mean, that's a perfect example, because especially with team culture, we hear about a lot. It's not just the person there, it's that whole family. That's part of it. Because, yes, they're the one going to working nine to five, but they're the ones going out on calls after hours. Those are the wives who are staying home or the husband staying home. It's being able to build that entire family culture, which that's a great example of that right there. So kind of wrapping up here. The last little section we have is kind of advice for maybe that smaller business owner or someone who's looking to grow and really wants to drive that. There's a lot of mom and pop restoration shops across the US. That have family at their origins. What would be your best advice for them as they seek to grow and help kind of retain that family emphasis?
I think, first of all, I don't know if I love the word mom and pop. I think there's a bunch of small, independent restorers of all sizes. The average restorer is doing $3 million a year, and that's factoring in the biggest players in the market. So your typical restore is doing one to $3 million a year. That's what built this amazing country that we live in. I think if someone's looking to scale, they've got to hire good people. I think the number one thing that's made us successful is good people. So I think at whatever position or wherever you're trying to grow, whether it's a new service line, doing business for a new segment, hire smarter people than yourself. Invest in those people industry training, soft skill training. They may have come up from the field. Maybe it's someone that used to work with before and invest in how to properly send an email, how to negotiate with an adjuster. There's a ton of industry resources. You have to invest in your business. You have to invest in your employees. You have to invest in yourself. There are resources like the RAA. I always have to do my pitch for RAA. If you really want to know what's going on in the industry, you've got to join trade associations. So if you want to know what best in class is, there are business coaches out there that have taken guys and gals doing a million dollars a year and have grown them up to $10 million. You need to have what is your ultimate end goal. Talk to other restorers, whether they're in your market or not. Find a mentor. If you need help through RAA. I'd be happy to find anyone a mentor, but I think it's really important to have someone in the industry that you look up to that can help guide you and grow as big or as small as you want to be. I don't think there's a certain size anyone can get to if they've got the hunger and the desire to grow.
Yeah, I would just double down on investing in yourself. We only know the company. We only know ATI were born and raised in this business. The one thing that we've done is investing in ourselves. I was part of Vistage. Jeff was part of YPO. I'm now part of YPO, which is Young President's Organization. Gary, our father, was part of the Cal State Fullerton peer affinity group with other family business owners. I think we're always trying to find out how do we better ourselves? Right. None of us are perfect. We need to hire people that are smarter than us. We need to hire people that are willing to challenge us, and we need to look outside of the industry as well as inside the industry. Right. What else are we missing? We need to hire to our weaknesses. Maybe we know restoration, but we don't know business. Maybe we know our family, but we don't know culture. How do we maintain that? We've hired somebody. We've hired a consultant to help us build out our culture. We can't do it on our own. We need to double down and invest in ourselves and bring in outside talent to help make not only ourselves better, but our organization better as well.
One thing that reminded me of, I think, a big turning point in ATI's history and trajectory the last ten years is dad was smart enough to bring in an outside board of advisors, not a formal board of directors. But I think Ryan, I, and Scott were probably a little skeptical at first on how is this going to help us? And dad went out and interviewed some people that were honestly, I think one of them was an insurance broker. One of them ran a masonry business. One had been a serial entrepreneur and had started a bunch of businesses. Another guy was a landscaper. And I'm thinking to myself, I'm like, how are these five or six independent people that don't know our industry? How are they going to challenge us and make us better? But it was incredible to get outside advice. I'm still in awe at how similar restoration is to landscaping services. If you look at the core, what does a landscaper do? They're managing guys and gals, working in the field, managing trucks and schedules and jobs. They're estimating jobs. They're doing routine jobs. It's no different than restoration. So when you really slice the onion back, we're really no different than a commercial and residential landscaper. And that owner or the executive brought so much value to us. But again, it's an investing in yourself. It's investing in the business. You can never lose sight of that. It's never too early to bring on outside advisors, whether they're paid, whether they're your next door neighbor, whether they're your aunt and uncle, who have been really smart and have a different caliber and a different perspective. Always challenge yourself to do more and do better.
Man, this has been. Fantastic. I mean, any restoration owner listening to this right now, there's just absolute golden nuggets in there. Because restoration isn't unique to business. It's a lot of the same type of thing. So how do you learn, diversify, find those different things? Man, that's fantastic. So kind of wrapping up people. Where can everybody find you social, things of that nature? Where can they connect with you?
Social, email, cell phone? Can email either one of us. Jeff.Moore@atirestoration.com and Ryan.Moore@atirestoration.com. You can find us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, our website. Feel free to reach out if anyone ever has any questions on how to scale, how to grow, how to manage family within a business. Either one of us would be more than happy to follow up with anyone individually. Perfect.
Thank you guys so much. This has been fantastic.
Jeff & Ryan Moore
Appreciate the time, appreciate it. Thank you.
There you have it, folks. Thanks again to Jeff and Ryan from ATI for sharing those incredible insights with us. And thank you again to the listener for checking out the Restoration Playbook podcast. If you like it, remember to share with your friends and give a good rating wherever you get your podcast. And remember, you can get access to my comprehensive day One Mitigate checklist for free by hitting tryknowhow.com/podcast1, that's tryknowhow.com/podcast1. Thanks for tuning in and we'll see you soon.