Top Workplaces

Leaders share their secrets to becoming a Top Workplace

Good leaders build relationships and provide direction with confidence and focus, using their experience to lay a path for their teams to follow. They also inspire others and create an environment prime for success.

This year, leaders at Barefoot and Company Inc., True Homes LLC and Wingate University rose to the top based on employee responses in our Top Workplaces survey.

Here’s what they and their employees had to say:

Small company leadership winner David Barefoot of Barefoot and Company Inc. leads a specialty building supply company with 120 employees.

He said: “My two favorite quotes/visions are treat your employees better than your best customer, and you won’t have to worry about your best customer. When decisions, especially tough ones are needed to be made, you always do what is the right thing, and things will go right. It may not be the easiest or may cost a lot more, but the right thing is always the best decision.

The second is: “If we take care of the business we have, we’ll have a business to take care of. Quality is extremely important to us, and we do it right the first time. It’s a small world around Charlotte – everybody knows everyone – so it’s important to uphold your good reputation.”

Employees said:

  • “He honestly takes care of and cares about employees as if they are all family, especially those who have the best interest of the company in the forefront of their own personal work ethic.”
  • “Mr. Barefoot always speaks and lets you know you are appreciated! I truly believe that he cares about his employees.”

Midsize company leadership winners Mark Boyce and Dan Horner of True Homes LLC are executive partners at the residential construction company with 275 employees.

They said: The “thing that’s very real in our culture at True Homes is the ‘me, we, us’ dynamic – our brand is it’s all about you. It doesn’t say its about me, it says its about you. For the individual who’s the focus of the brand, they benefit from that focus,” Horner said.

“We understand the focus of every ‘me’ on the team and value their giftedness and talent … Every ‘me’ is stronger as a ‘we’ on a team.” And “with good strong teams, there’s a broader impact as part of a bigger team. ... Love is ‘other centric,’” Horner added. “If we remain focused on others, that focus comes back to benefit everyone eventually.”

Employees said:

  • “They took this leap of faith starting True Homes in the crash of the market. They never gave up on their vision, and their faith and their constant belief and persistence got them where they are today.”
  • “Good about instilling their level of confidence and compassion in all of us, making for a cohesive workplace environment for employees.”

Large company leadership winner T. Rhett Brown is president of private Wingate University, which has 552 employees.

He said: “I don’t have all the answers for what is best,” he said. “But I’m good at getting all those voices together to discuss it collaboratively. I know a good idea when I hear it.”

Brown believes in incremental change and is worried more about changing too fast than changing too little. “If I’m going to be criticized, it may be for being too ambitious rather than needing to be kicked in the pants. Our growth needs to be served by the resources required to deliver a quality education. Our programs cannot grow so quickly that they outpace our services.”

Employees said:

  • “Rhett has always been very kind to everyone and has interacted with all of us like we are all friends instead of coworkers.”
  • “The President understands how our university has been disconnected in previous years and has therefore initiated a one dog philosophy to break down barriers and silos.”