Success Stories

Durabuilt Innovation Focuses on People—Not Just in Process—to Fuel Rapid Growth Across the Organization

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Durabuilt has been in the window and door manufacturing business for around 30 years. This owner-driven company grew from its original 4-6 employees to approximately 400, spread across a 180,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing plant, as well as several sales operations in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan serving much of Western Canada.

They attribute their stellar growth to a vibrant culture within their business. “A can-do attitude—or we’ll try harder mandate—has been a part of our culture that we live and breathe, and engrain into all of our employees,” said Harry Sunner, President of Durabuilt. This attitude has helped to contribute to double-digit annual growth rates for the past 17 years for the company.

Durabuilt has worked to continually improve production processes to make a better product, achieving the Integrated Management Systems (IMS) certification, a set of internationally-recognized standards that encompass Quality, Environmental and Health & Safety along their journey. But the company realized process improvement would only go so far in attaining the lasting value that they wanted. “Today, our goal is to work smarter and not just harder.” - said Amar Randhawa - General Manager Durabuilt Windows and Doors.

Rajesh Bhola, Learning and Engagement Manager for Durabuilt defined what he feels it means to work smarter. “If you only change the process, it will not deliver the outcomes most companies are looking for,” he explained. “Skills enhancement on the people side needs to be part of that equation. As our business grew, we learned that our management style needed to evolve along with it. When you’re small, it’s easy as you can talk to employees directly. But when you become larger, you need best practices surrounding your people, as well as your process, in order to attract and maintain quality talent within an organization.”

But this type of improvement requires a level of commitment that can be difficult to align with the daily hurdles of running an actively growing business. “One of the biggest challenges for any learning or development department is participation,” said Bhola. “When senior managers are focusing on hitting the targets in front of them, there is less focus on skills development. You need to prove that employee training aligns to these targets and will provide a clear ROI to everyone involved.”

The Durabuilt Institute of Applied Learning (DIAL) makes the team as important as the process

Durabuilt made the decision at the highest levels that the company wanted to help the entire team develop their skills and help them grow in their individual roles. The CEO, President, General Manager and Operations Head decided together to have a separate learning and leadership development department that helps employees focus on these skills. The goal was to refine both tactical skills in specific job-roles and strategic skills focusing on communicationand leadership development that can benefit anyone in almost any role.

When Rajesh Bhola started with Durabuilt, his first goal was to build a brand around this new department to attract interest to the new training program. The brand, called Durabuilt Institute of Applied Learning (DIAL), has a foundational premise in that whatever you learn in the program, you should be able to apply that knowledge in the workplace.


The John Maxwell Company helps Durabuilt create a culture of incentivized learning

Rajesh Bhola decided to enlist the help of The John Maxwell Company to boost the effectiveness of the DIAL program after a recommendation from Durabuilt’s general manager. “Our GM attended all of John Maxwell’s personal lectures over the years and is a big supporter,” shared Bhola. “So it seemed natural to work with a company that expands on many of those same concepts.”

The John Maxwell Company helped Durabuilt to identify the gap between where managers at the company are and where they want to be. They worked together to analyze succession planning, and identify the skills gaps that needed to be overcome to ensure that one manager could take over in another area of the company if needed.

Durabuilt and The John Maxwell Company launched a year-long program to engage managers through 2 days of classroom instruction on concepts such as The 5 Levels of Leadership. That was followed with both group and individual coaching on each executive’s personal leadership and communication style, and how that style impacts the employees around them. The John Maxwell Company concepts were reinforced throughout the year through Lunch and Learn sessions.

Rajesh Bhola reinforced employee commitment to the training programs through a points-based award system that recognized achievement for both completing different levels of training, and in-turn, sharing that knowledge through training sessions with others.

The John Maxwell Company and DIAL make an impact

One year later, what are the results of these initiatives? Durabuilt has increased its number of internal trainers from 3 to 9. This is a strong indicator of the knowledge-share that’s taking place across the organization. Add to that the fact that while an employee received 4 man hours of training on average in 2015, it is estimated that total training will be expanded to an approximate 11-12 man hours in 2017.

Durabuilt has also won several awards including a Silver Award for Canada’s Safest Employers, a SAM Award for Best Product Innovation and a Gold Standard Best Managed Companies Award.

“The John Maxwell Company program is absolutely fantastic,” shared Bhola. “The biggest advantage is that it goes beyond those directly attending individual training sessions. The leadership that is instilled percolates down to everyone in the organization. Everyone who learns then, in turn, trains those around them so we’re all talking the same language.”

“We’ve had managers come back to us and request to continue the one-on-one coaching because they learned so much,” he continued. “And I’ve personally witnessed the improvements specific people have made.”

Future plans for Durabuilt and The John Maxwell Company include additional leadership development programs, such as The John Maxwell Company’s executive coaching programs where senior leadership from Durabuilt will meet with senior leadership from companies in other industries. “It’s good to get people from different industries, because you get a different perspective altogether,” said Bhola. “And new perspectives lead to the same type of innovation that continues to fuel our growth.”