SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A major announcement Thursday night for a Sioux Falls company that began as a one-man shop and now has more than 80 employees.
“It started with just me, just one guy doing drywall.” said Greg Sands.
Sands says his company was founded on very humble beginnings.
“I came from a federal correction institution on drug charges, I was guilty,” said Sands.
He came to Sioux Falls right after prison and started to turn his life around after battling addiction for years.
“I went to the Glory House halfway house, I was scared, I was broke, I was lost,” Sands added.
Early on in his time in Sioux Falls, Greg started working for a few construction crews.
“I got a job from a guy who underpaid me, took advantage of where I was coming from,” he said.
It’s why he decided to start his own company in the early 90s.
“I was in the beginning driving around looking for houses that had plywood on them,” he added.
After doing smaller jobs on his own, he eventually secured his first commercial job.
“The first big job I got was the Washington Pavilion for a good guy who got me a good deal on the project,” he said.
Greg says he walked away from that job with a group of 20 solid employees that helped his new company take off.
After five years we kept doubling in size every year.
Greg and his wife Pam managed the company themselves for the first 10 years until the company expanded into new markets.
“We had Rapid City open, North Dakota open, we’re cruising along very good, and we have growth,” he said.
His largest growth was in the steel stud framing division that took off even more over the past couple of years when Sands Wall System started manufacturing its own steel studs.
“Now I’m not fighting the supply chain, I am the supply chain,” he said.
The continued growth and success made Greg the target of many offers to purchase Sands Wall Systems.
“Yep I could have, I get offers every month through M&A firms, have approached me for 10 years,” he said.
But as Greg looks to the future of the company he built from the ground up, he has another picture in mind.
“I want this company to go into perpetuity, I want to reward the employees I have that helped me build this company,” he said.
Employee wellbeing has been at the center of Greg’s mission for his company, something that stemmed from his own experience as an employee coming out of incarceration..
“In the beginning the things I did I knew were employees wanted, they wanted paid vacation, insurance benefits, boss that didn’t look down on them,” he added.
That mindset has helped Sands Wall Systems recruit and retain employees throughout its 30-year history.
“We have 95 percent employee retention in a really tough industry. We do a lot of things to make our employees happy here, now we’re getting ready to do a really big thing to make our employees happy here,” said Sands
Tonight Greg Sands and his wife announced to their 80 employees that they will soon be the full owners of Sands Wall Systems.
“10 years from today, I will own zero and my employees will own 100%,” he added.
Greg has spent the past two years working through this complicated financial maneuver to help pay back his employees for their role in building the company.
“We’ve just had great people around us for so long and its just the ultimate reward its going to change their lives,” said Sands.
As long as the company continues to grow, after the 10 year period, employees who stick with the company will receive their share of ownership when they retire.
“This isn’t hundreds of thousands of dollars or anything that I’m transferring, this is millions and millions of dollars that I’m transferring, and that’s only if the company stays in business,” he said
“This is everybody, the laborer sweeping floors, to the senior project manager doing a very intense take off for a hospital. It’s everyone, it affects us all, that’s what makes it so special, everyone gets a piece,” Sands Wall Systems President of Operations Jared Swenson said.
The new leaders of Sands Wall Systems have been with the company nearly 20 years and say this new employee ownership program is only going to lead to even more future success for the company.
“We all have stock in the game literally, so I think it should bring a whole other level of excitement to the company and should help employee moral and retention, and retention should ultimately help our customers because now we have more continuity and stability,” Sands Wall Systems President Ryan Rademacher said.
It’s a way for Greg to continue serving his employees even after he retires and to ensure his company keeps growing and supporting the Sioux Falls community,” Rademacher added.
It’s written into the DNA of the company now that it’s mandated that x amount of dollars are donated to the community every year to feed people, to help with mental health and help with addiction. That’s going to keep going to perpetuity,” Sands said.
The ESOB was finalized on Friday but Greg will continue to stay on as Chairman and CEO for the next 10 years of the company.
He says this change won’t impact how they serve customers or how employees are compensated–it will just give those long-time employees a big financial boost when it’s their turn to retire.